Follow by Email

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Paowalla

Last week, Chef and I got out for a mid-week meal at Paowalla. (You may remember Chef from here.) Paowalla is the latest and hopefully long-term committed place for Chef Floyd Cardoz (disclosure: I cooked for Chef Cardoz for 5 months in 2002 as an unpaid externship.). First, Paowalla is not Tabla. The experience here is much more akin to Delaware and Hudson than the big Danny Meyer establishments of yesteryear. Paowalla has the tightly fitted tables in a low-ceiling dining room full of windows looking out onto Sullivan Street. Chef and I struggled to recall the restaurant that occupied this space prior. We settled on it being a semi-generic Italian restaurant from a generation or two ago.

Overall, I really enjoyed the food at Paowalla. I look for restaurants to inspire me to make better food at home and prepare dishes I won't attempt myself (e.g., mole poblano, vindaloo, Beijing duck). What did we have:

Chutneys

  • Tomato Kalonji
  • Spiciy Chili
  • Mint Cilantro

The tomato kalonji easily stood out as the most interesting and enjoyable. I think the tomatoes were late summer heirloom tomatoes that the kitchen broiled and then made into a chutney, finally canning it for use throughout the year. Bright. Flavorful. Summer.

Breads

  • Sourdough Naan
  • Garlic Naan
  • Tingmo

The two naan were fine. Better than a takeout shop, maybe similar to the ones I make at home (via Meera Sodha's recipe). The tingmo was a revelation. I had never had or even heard of tingmo prior. This was fantastic. It was similar to a Chinese man-tao but wrapped up with a flavor paste layered throughout. I felt sad when we finished the tingmo.

Small Plates

  • Shishito Pakoras
  • Burrata
  • Boodie's chicken liver

The burrata was outstanding and completely unexpected. You have a dish like this and remember the transportive qualities of inventive food with flawless execution. There were moments eating this dish (with the tingmo) that I must have been nodding as Chef spoke, but I wasn't listening at all. I thought the pakoras were disappointing because they felt room temperature or cool by the time we ate them. Pakoras - to be great - sort of need to be their own course.

Large Plates

Baby pig vindaloo was complex and interesting. For me, it was a little too cheffy. The pig was a perfectly braised massive cube of pork belly that had the skin crisped to order and came in the vindaloo. Anyhow that ever orders out for vindaloo needs to come to Paowalla and try it. You get the vinegar, heat, caramel notes from stewed tomatoes. There are a lot of flavors going on.

Desserts

(Note: I did NOT want dessert but Chef did and that made all the difference) Saffron Yogurt Srikand. I grew up with srikand served at parties and weddings. Universally it was terrible. This was something wholly different. The yogurt was strained thoroughly. And it was good yogurt! I feel like the pastry team may have added gelatin or a potato starch slurry to give it just enough panna cotta giggle to make these amazing fried sweet noodles stand up.

We had a delicious inspiring meal in a lovely setting with satisfactory service. 

No comments: