Thursday, September 22, 2011

ink. || Opening Night

There has been quite a lot of anticipation built up surrounding Michael Voltaggio's first solo venture as a chef & I'm happy to say that the hype was well worth the wait.  After dealing with the insane reservation frenzy, I was able to score a four-top for opening night at ink. & of course decided to share my rezzy with my Cloak & Dinner family. 

I must make a small annotation to this meal... having gorged myself at the Test Kitchen Reunion only days before, & still traumatized from the overwhelming amount of food caused by ordering the whole menu at LudoBites007, we opted to pick & choose a selected menu knowing full well that we'll be back in the very near future (after all it's within rock throwing distance of my house.)

That said, if you'd like a rundown of EVERY ITEM ON THE MENU, I will gladly send you to two of my food/eating/photographing/blogging heroes || EpicuRyan and KevinEats who not only ordered every morsel of food, but tried every one of DevDiggy's cocktails as well!

So here goes...
hamachi green apple, aged soy, ginger ice (16)
gorgeous presentation!  these arrived at the table amid a cloud of smoke & what was revealed was incredible. like something out of dr. seuss's imagination i could easily see a lorax hiding in between the rolls of green apple.

dungeness crab toast, tarragon mayo, celery, house made hot sauce (16)
this was a very unique combination of flavors, a mild siraccha with a light tarragon, and who can resist a crunchy cigar filled with luxurious crab?  i'd say on the scale of inventive, i've had the core of this dish many times, but the stand-out flavors easily came from the dots of sauce.

corned beef appenzeller churro, red onion, pastrami syrup (14)
whaaaat? what was this?  heaven?  yes. i think it was. red onion rose petals? gorgeous.  textured churro? why not.  pastrami sauce? pour it all over me please.  my only point of confusion, the "snow" topping the dish was certainly NOT coconut shavings. so a mouthful gave me quite a bit of a surprise.

sea bass egg yolk, caper, romanesco, black olive oil (22)
sorry for all the length-wise photos. without a decent flash, this was the only way i could use the wee-bit-o-light from the kitchen to capture the food.  considering we had to convince isaac time & time again that this was in fact sea bass and not a mouthwatering piece of steak speaks simply to the texture & the flavor created in the cooking. 

octopus buttered popcorn, piquillo pepper, spinach (16)
this was probably my most anticipated dish of the night & again, like the rest of the evening, it did not disappoint.  after having eating live octopus, i was more than thrilled that this came out cooked & still. i could honestly have eaten the buttered popcorn with a spoon & called it a night. 

spaghetti giant squid, squash, hazelnut-ink pesto, piment d'espilette (14)
can we agree to put the spaghetti in air quotes? made from squid, they still resembled & even texturally felt like a light & perfectly cooked bowl of pasta.  plus the pesto was the perfect compliment to the slightly sweet and chewy "spaghetti."

iberian pork chantrelle mushrooms, mushroom chicharron, hazelnut "beans" (22)
chicharron yes please. it was funny, in discussing with my co-chef how we'd like to plate certain dishes for our up-coming cloak & dinner, i was trying to explain exactly how this was plated with a lot of hand gesturing & body motions.  thank god voltaggio did it for me. there was a collective, ahh, i get it, once this dish came to our table.

veal cheek red curry, coconut rice, nante carrots baked in salk (17)
 who knew veal could taste like this?  or cut like a stick of melted butter?  i certainly didn't.  this was the n-th degree of perfection & the crunchy rice, the sweet & smoky curry, and the (lemongrass?) carrots all balanced out for a delightful dish.

beef short rib heart of palm, smoked marrow toast, gremolata, ras el hanout (25)
and finally the last savory course of the evening. i do have to say after the veal, this was a slight bit of a let-down, but that could also be my total aversion to bone marrow. (and before you ask, i've tried it maybe 6 different ways now and i still loath it each and every time.)  the meat was tender, the hearts of palm well flavored & the toast added a nice bite of crunch, but the veal was the clear winner in the protein category.

rum lime, house falernum (10)

bourbon antica, fernet jelnick, allspice dram (13)

mezcal lemon, ginger, clover honey, angostura bitters (12)

scotch lemon, apple cider, egg white, cinnamon (13)
oh barkeep, could you please comment on these cocktails below?  thanks!

goat cheese ash, concord grape, arugula (10)
having no idea what to expect, this far exceeded any of my wildest imaginations.  a log of creamy goat cheese was offset by arugula cake (YES i said arugula CAKE.) and a sweet & sour grape ice cream that was very reminiscent of @loveonthego's childhood. being of the not super sweet category, this was a perfect dessert combination for moi.

apple creme caramel, burnt wood ice cream, walnut (8)
and finally our last course of the evening, a lightly sweet & happy combination of smoky ice cream, sharp apple, sweet sauce & crunchy crumbles.

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