Saturday, July 18, 2015

GT Fish & Oyster Collaboration Dinner

I had been to GT Fish and Oyster before and really liked it.  When I saw that they were going to be doing a collaboration dinner with a chef from El Ideas, I jumped at the chance to go because, while I have not been there, I have met the executive chef, and I like the idea of the restaurant, to turn fine dining on it's head.  It's irreverent and experimental and lets diners ask questions.  I was interested to see where a very good seafood restaurant and an experimental restaurant would meet.  The dinner was held in the Whale Room, a private dining room in the basement of the restaurant.  On the wall was a silhouette painting of a sperm whale and the quote, "The biggest fish is the one that is almost caught."  It had a large communal table with an anchor on it and marked place settings, letting individual diners know where they would be sitting.  With the place settings were our menu cards giving the diners an idea of what we would be having for dinner.  There were also a series of numbers listed after each course.  The numbers were a bit of a puzzle.  Also on the table were several large and thick cookbooks (all the same) that looked to be cooking textbooks.  I guessed that the numbers had something to do with the cookbooks and were something like the recipe number in the book.  I also noted that the menu was much less seafood heavy than I would have expected from a seafood restaurant (not a complaint, simply an observation).
The numbers were explained as the Amuse Bouche was served and the chefs came out to introduce themselves.  The numbers were based on the page on which the recipe each course was based on was to be found.  As I noted very quickly, while the base of each recipe could be seen, the finished courses were very creative and some varied widely from where they started.  The Amuse (which was not listed on the menu as is common with an amuse bouche) was based on Oysters Rockefeller although it was raw (as opposed to broiled) and was served in a dish instead of on the half-shell.  It was served with Spinach and Panko and very flavorful.  Admittedly, it might have been a little much for someone that doesn't care for raw oysters, but I like them and I liked this.
The first official course was essentially a vegetable tasting and it actually reminded me of something that you might see at Moto.  There were three parts to this course.  On the left was a Mushroom Sauce served with a Manchego Cheese Chip.  To the right was a Fried Carrot with a Maple Creme (that kind of reminded me of marshmallow creme).  The center recipe started as Broccoli Almondine.  It used broccoli florets and blanched almonds, but was finished with a White Broccoli Soup (not shown).  There were a variety of flavors and textures in small bites and it was a great stage setter for the rest of the meal.
In a normal multi-course progression, courses progress from Amuse Bouche to vegetable/appetizer to seafood, red meat, and dessert.  The meal progressed in a standard manner with us next presented with the seafood course.  The recipes used were Roast Squid and Romesco Sauce (a Spanish red sauce based on nuts and red peppers).  What we were served was a 17 Hour Slow Roasted Octopus served with Cous Cous, Potatoes, and a very good Romesco Sauce.  Much seafood is very easy to overcook and as such ends up at least a little rubbery.  This octopus had no rubberiness to spek of.  It was meaty and very tender and went very well with the cous cous, potatoes, and Romesco.  It really reminded me of Moroccan cuisine and I really enjoyed it.

Our first meat course was served communally and was called Pork Belly and Black Rice.  When Giuseppe Tentori was the Executive Chef of Boka, there was a dish on the menu that consisted of Pork Belly and Black Rice which I had and really liked and thought I might have had a little familiarity with the dish.  While the flavors were similar, the presentations were definitely not.  The Pork Belly was served as a cut, but it had been cooked for 36 hours and was incredibly tender and flavorful.  It was served with Greek Yogurt and another sauce with Asian spices.  The Black Rice was served in Arancini form (fried Risotto Balls) with a crunchy exterior and very tender interior.  Admittedly, they didn't look exceptionally appetizing, but they did taste good.
Our final savory course was based on Chicken Cordon Bleu which is a dish that I really like.  What we were served was Veal Cordon Bleu  veal rolled around a Dried Ham similar to Prosciutto, Panko, and Swiss Cheese.  It was served (also communally) with Spinach, Garlic Scape (the stem on which the blossoms grow), and a Blue Cheese Sauce (hence the Cordon Bleu and not Cordon Swiss).  While this was a twist on a favorite, they substituted in things that I really like, and they did them really well.  It hit all the right notes with flavor and tenderness and it felt very much like a much practiced dish (vice an experiment).
Our dessert was listed as Creme Brulee which was what one of the recipes was listed as.  There was also a Linzer Torte recipe listed so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect even if I was hoping for Creme Brulee.  What we were presented with had many elements of creme brulee, but added some other things and was very much a very flavorful win.  The dish consisted of Creme Anglaise, a Brulee Crisp, Strawberries, Coffee-Infused Tapioca Beads, and a Coffee Crisp.  The coffee went well with the Creme Anglaise and it was like eating a cup of sweetened coffee with strawberries.
The Linzer Torte came with their equivalent to the after dinner Petit Four or Mint.  We were given a package of whale shaped Linzer Torte cookies to take home with us.  They were crisp, sweet, and filled with Raspberry Jam and made for a great finish to a very good dinner.  GT Fish and Oyster does collaboration dinners occasionally and after this win, I will have to seriously consider returning.


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