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Monday, April 22, 2013

Gwynnett St. (5 of 12)

On Friday night, we dined at Gwynnett St. for the first time. Everything about the restaurant is wonderful. We could see a lot of trial and error went into each dish. There were strange and wonderful combinations that I loved. There were others that the wife loved. For all that trial and error, I'd expect to pay significantly. And pay significantly we did ($170 - all-in - for 2 with one cocktail each).

I had it in my head that this was as remote as Roberta's and it clearly isn't. It's right off of Grand. We noticed (reservation at 7 on Friday) we were amongst the youngest diners there. And we're old!

Onto the food and drink.

Cocktails
1) "Same, Same, But Different" - Perfect for the wife; more sweet than bitter but not overly sweet. The cocktail (served in a beautiful coupe) was also a great shade of green and highly aromatic.
2) "Crow's Nest" - Kind of reminiscent of  a lot of cocktails (Old Fashioned and Sazerac) but with the aged rum there was a caramel/wood flavor. Two thoughts: (a) this is delicious and (b) I have a long way to go before I'm making drinks this original and this good.

Dinner
(note: I was starving.)
We started with "Whiskey Bread" which was the most amateur and uninteresting dish. If you've ever made irish soda bread, you can make this at home. But, it came with this tremendous butter. We eat some awesome butter at home but this was something entirely different. The butter was salty, grassy, creamy and even slightly sweet.

We ordered two appetizers: the stinging nettle soup and the chicken liver (fine mousse consistency). The soup was really average. In the end it tasted like a broth with finely pureed any-green. The chicken liver was the opposite. The tiny pieces were so complex and delicious, redolent of chicken, animal fat and then a lot of other tastes. We could order it four times over and be happy and full (and broke!).

We ordered an entrĂ©e to share as a middle course. Tofu. Tofu? This is homemade from cashews served with cauliflower and black garlic. Tremendous. If you go, you'll think about not ordering this and that would be a critical mistake.

Our entrees were dorade with wheatberries and pork with parsnip. Both were lovely, I think the dorade was a bit more enjoyable than the pork, but maybe I just like fish more. The wheatberries seemed like there were steamed, deep-fried, and pan-fried, all at once. I liked them even more than the fish.

Two appetizers and three entrees. We were full but had no problem going for a bit of a walk. But I'll think about that butter and chicken liver for a long time beyond today.

Yopparai (4 of 12)

Last month we ate at Yopparai with my cousin and her husband. Yopparai is a self-proclaimed "sake bar and restaurant." It is a hard place to describe accurately. There are numerous sakes. The staff is well-versed, helpful and willing to talk sake. There's some sushi (we didn't order any). There are numerous cooked dishes (we ordered a lot).

First and foremost the service is great. We never felt rushed or obligated to order more. The food was fantastic. We ordered the homemade tofu. It was nice, but not as lovely as the tofu at Hibino.

We ordered a series of onigiri that were grilled. They were lovely.

Then we had simmered dishes that came bubbling in clay pots. Those were fantastic. I can't think of a single dish we didn't enjoy. A month later, the Jidori Tamago Toji was the most memorable dish.

There's a timely and more eloquent description at the New York Times.