Chef/co-owner Landon Schoenefeld has all kinds of fun with classic Americana.
After a single bite of chef Landon Schoenefeld's insanely fatty -- and insanely delicious -- mortadella, one of five glorious entries on his charcuterie platter, I probably should have programmed my cardiologist's number into my cell phone, just as a precaution. That charcuterie! Jalapeño- and tequila-kissed head cheese. The creamiest chicken liver pâté imaginable, with a hint of Madeira. A rustic ham-chicken terrine topped with snappy, cinnamon-laced pickled watermelon. Each element radiated an impressive amount of legwork and imagination, and served as a precursor for the technical fireworks that were headed our way. And, although we didn't realize it at the time, they signaled Schoenefeld's passionate love affair with rich foods. It's more than possible to order lighter dishes before going in for one of the cholesterol-killing courses. Case in point: A colorful Crenshaw melon soup, finished with berries and radicchio, was as refreshing as a jump in the lake, and, true to Schoenefeld's cerebral cooking style, each spoonful yielded nuanced hints of salt and heat. The vast majority of the menu finds Schoenefeld twisting a familiar dish, each seemingly culled from a retro church cookbook or a vintage food magazine. The danger in this kind of cooking is the temptation to veer into kitsch, or parody, or mad-scientist territory, or arrogant self-aggrandizement, all at the expense of creating delicious food. The kitchen's namesake dish turns meat and potatoes on its ear, marinating, braising and then basting short ribs in various red wine reductions until they take on a luxe, lacquered sheen, then pairing them with ultra-creamy mashed potato croquettes and a modern version of green bean casserole. It's marvelous, a shining example of Schoenefeld's fascination with presenting competing yet complementary textures. HauteDish-ers haven't quite figured out where their business falls on the restaurant-bar continuum. Perhaps a keener attention to detail might push the needle in the right direction.
119 Washington Av. N
Bar 4pm-close; dinner 5pm-close; Brunch Sat & sun 10am-2pm
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