After the experience, I would term Table No. 1 a “pop-up restaurant” rather than a “supper club,” which is usually hosted in a home with mismatched plates and chairs, the food prepared by amateur chefs so the whole vibe is very casual, family style and home-cooked.
When we arrived our hostess Judy, of the Brown & Jackson Design Consultancy, greeted us with a clipboard and led us downstairs to our assigned seats at a long formal table in the basement transformed into a chic private dining room, surrounded by dark curtains highlighting the tablescape, which looked like it was right out of a home design magazine.
That night Chef Mary-Frances Heck of Culinary Institute of America, Savuer & Bon Appetit would be preparing our dinner.
The menu, titled Amber, was vague still. We began with snacks of homemade potato chips and popcorn with duck fat. Both were tasty, but the duckfat didn’t do anything flavor-wise for the popcorn.
The first course said “Fish n’ Chips.” What arrived was a gorgeously plated tuna tartare paired with Ithaca Ground Break, a “hoppy saison.”
I see: they are putting an upscale spin on bar food favorites. Call it fish and chips and serve me tuna tartare any day!
My eyes popped out of my head when I saw “Arancini & Popper” on the menu! The rice ball is the national dish of my Sicilian ancestors and I take great pride in it’s traditional preparation, but the chef stuffed it with kimchi and served it beside a fried shishito-pepper with a soy dipping sauce. Rocco (my dad) would scorn the panko bread crumbs but he would probably like it. There were some questions about how to handle the balls. “Use your hands!” The rice ball was creamy and perfectly fried and served with Lightning Electrostatic, a strong “spritzey, appley,” beer, which went well with the fried food. Only problem was there was just one. I eat rice balls by the dozens and this one would be no exception!
Next up: a “Croquette.” This wasn’t your regular potato croquette from the deli; it was filled with black forest ham and gruyere and served with pea shoot salad, which was refreshing with course after course of fried. (Not complaining.) It was served with a Local Option Dampfbier.
The “Buffalo Wing” was up, but it wasn’t chicken, it was a crispy buffalo style pork belly with pickled carrots, celery leaf salad and bleu cheese crumble. It was flavor heaven. It was paired with the same beer as the croquette, which was good because my area was getting crowded with wine glasses of unfinished beer. It seemed like a never ending supply! (Not complaining.)
I was really excited about what the “Dirty Water Dog” would be. I love me some hot dogs, all the time! Plated was four types of Smoked Polish Kielbasa with Kale Sauerkraut, Parslied Potatoes, Bloomed Mustard, and Rye Crumbs. I guess we are spoiled in Little Poland, because this was just as good as the kielbasa we get around here and I couldn’t differentiate between the four types, but they were damn tasty. The mustard was nice and spicy and I loved the new take on kale. The dish was paired with a big Carnegie Porter, with “notes of toffee,” perfect for cured meat. I enjoyed this pairing the best. Sweet and spicy.
Next to last was a “Cheese Plate,” which was just that, no surprises, with an assortment of raw sheep’s milk cheese, my favorite animal for cheese, along with Gaverhopke Extra, from Belgium.
The dessert said “Ice Cream,” not usually my dessert of choice, but get this: it was a hot fudge sundae with frozen foie gras torchon and corn nuts! I think this is the first time in the history of man that corn nuts came this close to foie gras and I am very happy they did. The duck liver was a mildly savory smooth texture in the ice cream and dare I say it resembled cookie dough. The bar staple, salty corn nuts were a hit. The final beer, A Le Coq Imperial Extra Double Stout, from England. (I don’t know how the foie gras felt about that but it was the perfect dessert beer with ice cream.
It was a delicious night filled with surprises, throw backs to old bar snacks, revamped and paired with delicious beer. I was waiting for a Meat Pie, the bar snack served up at the Diamond, but maybe next time. I look forward to more Pop-Up Restaurants by Table No. 1.