Monday, April 11, 2016

Analogue - Pho Q

I have been to Analogue a few times and like what they do.  They are a low key cocktail bar that serves some really good Cajun food, so when it was announced that they would host a pop up called Pho Q (careful about how you pronounce that), a dinner combining Vietnamese and Barbecue, I quickly signed up.  Now, on the surface, Vietnamese and Barbecue in a Cajun restaurant may not make a lot of sense, but if you look at it geographically, it might make more sense.  There is a large Vietnamese population in southern Louisiana and one of the regional barbecue styles is from Texas which is just west.  People that eat these different styles of cuisine actually live fairly close to one another in southern Louisiana.  The dinner featured four courses, but drinks were extra.  For this dinner, they did come up with a couple of cocktails.  You didn't have to stick to these cocktails though.  You could order a beer or something of of their regular cocktail list, but I decided to stick with the theme and ordered the Smokin' Indo, a cocktail consisting of Laphroaig Scotch, Indonesian Rum, Spiced Vermouth, and what they referred to as Blood Orange Bitters, which was specifically China China, a French bitter orange flavored liqueur.  As one might guess from the name and from the fact that it contained Laphroaig Scotch, it was pretty smoky.  It wasn't all smoke, the rum provided something of a vanilla flavor and the China China added a bitter orange flavor.  It is not my typical go-to cocktail flavor profile, but it wasn't bad.
The first course of the meal was listed as an App Sampler and was served on a metal serving tray as barbecue might be.  The sampler contained three things (or four if you count the pickled vegetables).  It started with a Smoked Gulf Shrimp Spring Roll with a Peanut BBQ Sauce, continued with a Crispy Smoked Chicken Wing with Scallions, Garlic, and Noc Cham (Fish Sauce), and finished with a Hoisin Glazed Pork Rib with Black Vinegar and Thai Chilies.  The pickled vegetables included Carrots, Cucumbers, and Red Onions.  Everything on this tray was very good.  The spring roll was light.  The shrimp were tender and had a nice smoky flavor to them.  The peanut BBQ sauce was very good and went well with the spring roll.  It had a nice spicy peanut flavor that complemented the flavor of the spring roll.  It was not, however, necessary to make the spring roll to taste good, it was good by itself.  The chicken wing was also very good.  It had a crunchy and smoky flavor and the chicken was cooked perfectly.  I could have probably eaten about 10 of these and been happy.  The same could have been said for the rib.  As it was just a sample, I only had one bone, but it was very good.  The meat was tender with bitter, sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors.
The next course very definitely had a Vietnamese name, but it was basically a meat salad.  It was also pretty big.  It was called Goi Bo Thit Heo and had Pulled Pork and Brisket with Bean Sprouts, Cabbage, Mint, and Cilantro, and was served with a Shrimp Chip on either side.  It was both meaty and crisp with a variety of flavors and the chip made a good delivery system to the mouth.  I used chop sticksto put a pile of meat and greens on the chip and took a bite of the chip.  There was more salad than there were chips, but it was very good even without the chips.

The namesake dish was the last savory dish.  It was served in a large bowl and was served with a large plate of fresh greens, which included Mint, Cilantro, Bean Sprouts, Lime and Hot Peppers which were to be added at the diner's discretion.  The pho contained Brisket, Eye of Round, Beef Tendon, a Lil' Smokie, and Smoked Stock and Nutmeg.  I didn't add all of the greens to my pho but I did add enough to add some crispness and fresh flavor.  I liked everything about the pho except the Lil' Smokie.  The brisket and eye of round were very tender and flavorful, the tendon had a nice chew to it, and the broth had a nice smoky and meaty flavor.  The Lil' Smokie was a small smoky link which would have been fine except that it was unexpectedly also very spicy.  I might have liked it more if I had expected the hit of heat, but it was a surprise.

The dessert was interesting.  Called a Cafe' Sue Da.  It was a scoop of Condensed Milk Ice Cream sprinkled with Chicory Coffee and Peanuts and served on a slice of Texas Toast.  I will say that I really liked the condensed Milk ice cream.  It was rich, creamy, and sweet, and the peanuts and chicory added some bitterness and nuttiness which went well with the ice cream, but I didn't understand the point of the Texas Toast as it was just a thick piece of bread.

While Vietnamese food and Barbecue aren't commonly put together, the combination did work well.  I really enjoyed my experience and will definitely return for a regular dinner if not for a special meal.   

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