Saturday, July 12, 2014

Trenchermen - Dinner

There are several restaurants that I have gone to for brunch and enjoyed that also apparently serve a very good dinner.  Some of the places, in fact, are better known for dinner than their brunch.  Trenchermen, where I went for brunch last year was actually open for dinner for about 6 months before they started serving their brunch.  Having said that, I went their for brunch first and just recently went for dinner.  I mentioned then, that they seemed to really have a handle on savory and have a nice selection of cocktails.  This is true for dinner as it was for brunch.  On the day that I went, they offer a beer and burger special and the place was full with people having that.  While it does sound interesting in theory and the value is very good, the burger that they were offering really didn't do it for me.  I may have to return sometime for the beer and burger special but I was interested in the main menu.  Trenchermen offers a prix fixe where you can order two appetizers, an entree, and dessert which are your choices from the main menu so that's what I did.  While I was deciding on my meal, I started with a cocktail called Alliance Tale.  It was a poor pun and I couldn't figure out any connection to the cocktail, but it was good.  It had Gin, Amaro, Allspice, and Lemon.  It was bittersweet and spicy with a tart finish and actually kind of reminded me of dessert.  It did not, however, make it to my dessert, so I couldn't pair it, but I was not disappointed by that fact.
My dinner started with Octopus which was served with Posole Broth, Masa Balls, Marrow Beans, and Crushed Corn.  This was interesting and quite a surprise.  Posole typically uses hominy and pork.  The corn was there, not exactly as hominy, but similar to corn nuts.  THe pork was replaced with octopus which was pretty different as well.  The octopus was served as small tentacles and seemed to be dried because they were actually pretty crunchy.  They were flavorful and texturally, they reminded me of chow mein noodles.  The masa balls were big, thick, and dense, and actually reminded me texturally of thick tentacles.  The marrow beans were well cooked and added a savory flavor to the broth which was nice and spicy.  This was a small dish (as it was an appetizer), but I would have been happy to eat much more of this.
For my second appetizer, I went with a dish that to me, felt much more like an appetizer.  It was called Tortellini en Brodo and contained Chorizo 'Nduja (a spreadable Italian sausage using pork shoulder, belly, jowls, tripe, and Calabrian peppers), Apricot Chutney, Fennel, Saffron, and Mint.  It was sweet, spicy, and savory, with a minty finish and I really liked it. 
My entree was more meat and was very savory and earthy.  It consisted of a "Sheboygan" Porchetta (a boneless pork roast wrapped in pork skin and stuffed with bratwurst), Mustard Gnocchi, Beer Onions, and Hakuri Turnips.  The gnocchi was very tender as gnocchi is supposed to be.  It was actually about the same size and shape as the turnips although very different in taste and texture.  The turnips being more dense and crunchy with an earthy sweet taste and the gnocchi tender with a slightly sour mustard flavor which paired with the mustard seeds on the porchetta.  The onions were well cooked and tender with a sweet and malty flavor and a slight onion finish.  The porchetta was tender and meaty with a sweet flavor that matched with everything and topped with mustard seeds to pair with the gnocchi.  While it had a lot of sweet, it also presented many other flavors and a wealth of textures and it was a bit of an adventure (in a good way) to eat.
The savory side of the menu was full of some nicely complex dishes full of different textures and flavors, the dessert continued that theme with a Matcha Semifreddo (literally, half cold, a frozen dessert combining two parts ice cream or gelato and one part whipped cream) with Bee Pollen Brittle, Sesame Sauce, Strawberry Sorbet and Fresh Strawberries.  It was sweet, a little tart from the strawberries, a little bitter from the sesame sauce and the Matcha (tea) and very enjoyable to eat. 

I really enjoyed dinner here.  The food was hearty, complex, and full of surprises.  The service was very good even as busy as the restaurant was and they were happy to answer questions.  I will definitely return because there is more on the menu to try.

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