The Adventures Of Food Boy, Gustatory Girl, And The Vittle Twins
*pant, pant, pant*
I’m still tired from eating.
I mean, Sweet Jiminy Christ. Sixteen courses of food? Mind you — we’re talking tiny courses. Tapas courses. Even still. It’s damn near a four-hour process, this thing.
In case you missed it, the wife and I, plus two good friends of ours, went out to Honey Restaurant in Doylestown and partook in their so-called “Surrender Menu,” called so because on the one hand you surrender to the chef’s wishes (omakase!), and on the other hand you may at some point decide to “tap out” before the end of the meal and throw up the white flag.
Very cute place. Some booths have curtains on them so that you’re encased in something that feels like, I dunno, a caravan across the desert. We, however, were not in such a gauzily-cloaked booth.
Anyway. First thing’s first: you choose nothing in that tasting menu. Some tasting menus, you get a little choice: “Would you rather the lamb, or a punch to the nuts?”
Here, not so much. Our only choice was in our cocktails. Which are themselves inventive (for instance, the Alma Calma: Maker’s Mark, ginger brandy, elderflower essence, and fresh lime juice). (And for the record, I’m pretty sure they just made up “elderflower.” I’ve read the Monster Manual. You can’t juke me. It’s there on the encounter tables.)
So, the dishes as they came out are as follows (they gave us a list after we had finished):
Truffled Spring Onion Bisque
(black garlic and gruyere crouton, chive blossom)
Verdict: That crouton is the best crouton you’ll ever think of eating. Also: chive blossoms are good, but strong. A horse kick to your tongue testicles. Good stuff. A strong start both in quality and intensity of taste.
Grilled Cheese w/Tomato
(petit grilled meadow creek Grayson cheese, peppered tomato marmalade, red mustard sprouts)
Verdict: Too small. Not a comment on their food, but a comment on the quality. It could be the size of a basketball, and still be too small. That marmalade was great. The sprouts: pretty, but lost in the dish, but so what?
(minced raw American Wagyu beef, quail yolk, smoked sea salt potato chips, truffled Parmesan cream, micro bull’s blood)
Verdict: One of the best dishes of the night. Raw beef, if done right, is sublime. This was buttery and salty and fired on all cylinders.
(cornmeal-crused Kumamoto oysters on toasted baguette with baby tomato, pickled shallots, arugula sprouts and saffron-chile aioli)
Verdict: Oysters comprise one of those things I’d never eaten before. Very good, and I’d try oysters again, though one of our companions was not a seafood fan and found the taste a bit funky. I can dig that; the oyster leaves you with a very briny finish, a lingering sea-soaked taste. But dang, that baby tomato. Mmm. Slowly but surely I get over my tomato rage. (Though, you know, after thinking about it, I wonder if some of the aftertaste is complicated by the arugula. Arugula is spicy and… well, an almost gamy-tasting green. It has to be notes of like, lamb or goat cheese whenever I eat it.)
Shellfish-Stuffed Squash Blossom
(Maine lobster, rock shrimp, Maryland crab, chilled curry-cauliflower bisque, cucumber-jalapeno relish)
Verdict: Never had lobster straight-up. Had a lobster bisque. This was good, but not my favorite of the night. The three shellfishies shoveled together make for a somewhat blurry taste experience (or, if you prefer, tastestravaganza). The sauce was very good though. Overall, maybe my least favorite, though that’s like saying, “I prefer a million dollars to a hundred dollars.” It’s all still money, yo.
Rock Shrimp “Cocktail”
(creamy rock shrimp tempura with sour apple, peanuts, avocado salsa, wasabi caviar)
Verdict: This is going to sound fucked up, but c’mon, look whose blog you’re reading. You know what this reminded me of? Seafood pop rocks. It’s like — shrimp! Wasabi! Sour apple! Crunchy peanuts! Pow pow pow! Mouthsplosion! Taste bud detonation! Oh my stars, isn’t this what killed Mikey the Life Cereal kid? Oh noes! Ahem. Delicious. Really stupidly delicious.
Yellowfin Tuna Ceviche
(ruby grapefruit, breakfast radish, red shiso, grilled green tea noodles)
Verdict: Not exactly how I expect my ceviche (not in a glass but on a long plate over a brick of noodles), but who gives a rat’s right nut? A tasty, straight-up dish. It’s funny how much I love raw tuna, and how little I enjoy cooked tuna. Soon as you put flame to it, it tastes like, well, tuna. But before the fire, you get the crisp taste of the ocean, of the water, of the salt and all that. Raw cold fish has the same properties as cucumber. Very refreshing dish. The tea noodles were cool, too. I’ve no idea what a “breakfast radish” is. I think they’re just making it up to fuck with me. Huzzah, solipsistic worldview!
Sesame-Crusted Soft Shell Crab
(chilled buckwheat noodles, Mousseron mushrooms, cashews, chile-spiked Ponzu, white miso emulsion)
Verdict: Another winner winner chicken (of the sea) dinner. Also another food I’ve never eaten: soft-shell crab. I was always a bit alarmed: “I’m supposed to just eat the… whole thing? Like? All the crunchy bits? Won’t those crunchy bits perforate my trachea?” But no. It’s almost like crispy chicken skin. Consider me a fan. This also had notes of carnival food, and I mean that in a good way — deed-fried comfort is what I’m saying.
Hot Stone Beef and Rice
(Painted Hills Farm strip steak sashimi, English peas, royal trumpets, fried duck egg, micro bok choy)
Verdict: A take on the Korean Bi Bim Bop. Not much to say here except: woo! Tasty. Mix it all together, eat with happy face.
Whiskey-Braised Lamb Collar
(creamy lemon grits, mint julep sauce, fried shallots, lamb collar)
Verdict: Best lamb dish I’ve ever eaten. Lamb always has that slightly-challenging “off” taste — and this had that, but in a buttery, warm, satisfying way. The lamb collar, as I understand it, comes from around the head. Not a common cut, but this was braised low and slow in whiskey. Just like me. Just like me. Seriously, though, off-the-charts good.
(fried veal sweetbreads, honey-chipotle BBQ sauce, Rogue River blue cheese, celery salad)
Verdict: The sweetbreads were good. Solid. I’ve had them once before, and the taste is in no way challenging, though the texture is different than straight-up meat. This was breaded and fried in a way that, frankly, made it resemble a hunk of General Tso’s chicken. Good, though not off-the-charts.
(housemade suckling pig “scrapple,” fried quail eggs, picked veggie slaw, kimchi mayo)
Verdict: I just came in my pants. Again. I think about this dish and — oh! There it is again. Shellacked undies. If I keep thinking about it — oh! oh. Dang. Yep. Shooting blanks, now. Just dust. Ahem. Listen, this is the best thing I ate all night. I am fucking batshit for this dish. Suckling pig? Suckling pig! “Scrapple” is of course a misnomer and might put people off, but it’s really pulled suckling pig pork lumped together and fried. Fatty, salty, satisfying on so many levels. I want this. I want this all the time. In my mouth. In my pants. Shut up.
Pan-Roasted Diver Scallops
(lo mein noodles, green onions, sweet-and-sour cucumber, Chinese wild boar bolognese)
Verdict: Good, but believe it or not, the scallops were a hair overdone. Scallops are so sensitive to cooking, and I suspect that these were cooked right but then, when placed on top of hot food, maybe cooked further through? I dunno. Good. Solid. And the wild boar sauce was killer.
(with extra-virgin olive oil and mint)
Verdict: A nice palate cleanser. Strong-tasting, but for me, in the best way.
American Artisan Cheese Plate
(port-fig jam, honey roasted walnuts, Bosc pear, Buckingham Valley honey — cheese was gouda, Roquefort, goat’s cheese)
Verdict: The Roquefort was a slap in the mouth. A good — nay, great — slap in the mouth, but still. A very stinky cheese. Like, underarm, under-nuts, underfoot. And yet, still awesome. A really sublime cheese. The goat cheese was made less goaty by the fig jam, and oddly, for me the most challenging cheese was the gouda. I’m a big big big gouda fan, and this was actually a little strong. Not sure why. Still tasty, though.
(Jameson Whiskey bread pudding, sour cherries, Guinness ice cream, Bailey’s Irish cream glaze)
Verdict: I mean, come on. You name something “booze for dessert,” and I’m there. No messing around. Guinness ice cream is also the best idea for ice cream ever.
Callebaut Chocolate Bread Cake
(marcona almond puree, red wine-raspberry ice cream, warm chocolate caramel sauce, almond praline)
Verdict: Very good, but a little overmuch in the dessert department. Chocolate cake was good, though a hair dry — but mixed with the praline and the ice cream and the sauce in one bite, really ooh-la-la good.