labellementeuse: dairine callahan with her laptop from an old cover of High Wizardry (yw geek chic(k))
[personal profile] labellementeuse
So [personal profile] tamarillow wrote up last year's Wellington on a Plate and this inspired me to do the same thing for this year! I'm going to try to go weekend by weekend and here's a post for this last weekend. At some point in the near future I might do a life stuff update too?! Anyway. Click on the links in posts below for menus and [ profile] arysteia's food photos.

Friday: Foxglove

On Friday we had a later dinner booked at Foxgloveso we started out at One Red Dog where we had fairly ordinary cocktails (the mojito was fine, the rosebud EXTREMELY sweet. I still liked it but you would really need a taste for sugar. Neither of them were in danger of overpouring). Then we toddled off to Foxglove, slightly soused.

I have to say that easily my favourite thing about this was the cocktail. One of WOAP's innovations this year is doing a cocktail + tapas thing, and Foxglove's one was a truly tasty deconstructed gin hot toddy and tuna tartare (there was some dressing and I think watercress underneath but the tuna starred). The hot toddy came with a cube of saltwater jelly and lots of lemon zest plus two little jugs, one of hot water and one of gin. You poured the hot water over the jelly to melt it and then dumped in the gin. Gosh this was very tasty, and I'm not a big gin fan in any way. It foregrounded the gin without being overpowering. And the tuna was just gorgeous as well, an ever-so-thin layer of beautiful crispness and then, you know: tuna. Raw tuna's so good.

The starters were little sliders and I went out on a limb and had the crab, which I had never had before, with bloody mary mayonnaise. Turns out I like crab. It was delicious, and so was the main, a pulled lamb burger with slightly soggy but very well-seasoned chips. The bread was tender and slightly sweet and delicious and they were both deliciously moist with lots going on. I did find the lamb my least favourite part - I think I'd just been expecting a classic minced lamb burger. The choux pastry "burger" was fun although obvious in its conceit. Really, it was just a giant and glorified ice cream puff (which is fine because I love those). I think the pear was my favourite bit. The affogato looked like fun with its chocolate spoon, though :) In all cases the alternative dish (the beef sliders and the halloumi burger) was heartily well-reviewed by its subscribers.


Mishmosh ticked us off to start by refusing to let us order all three courses, insisting we pick two. We've been doing extensive Dine Wellington dining for 3 years now and I think this is the first place ever to do this and I have to say it annoyed me. They said that they had an agreement with WOAP and if they didn't do it this way they would run out of food or not get the balance right, which I think is frankly silly and kind of doesn't make sense? So that bugged me. [personal profile] tamarillow and I decided to get around this by one of us ordering a starter and one of us ordering a dessert, and that actually worked pretty well considering the portions were very generous. We had the hot dog because I love hot dogs - unfortunately there isn't a photo of this. I liked it and the sausage was very tasty - beefy and delicious. And the onions were perfectly done in my opinion - not too sweet (I like a v sweet caramelised onion sometimes, but not with a beef sausage - they were allowed to stay a bit sharp and I really liked that). Still, I will admit to a little envy over the oyster sliders, which also looked v tasty and a bit more tender than the hot dog.

Next up was burgers - for some reason it was a very burger-heavy weekend. I had the beef burger, which was very nice indeed (again, great bread) except that the patty was just hugely, dreadfully dull and underseasoned. The sauces were good, the other fillings were good, the cheese was nice, and the meat was certainly generous ... but it was not very interestingly flavoured and honestly was just crying out for some salt and pepper. Also, it could have been more rare for my tastes, but I know that's not what everyone likes in a burger. We had a similar review from the fish burger - perfectly cooked snapper and crayfish, great tapenade, but it needed, said our expert reviewers, some tartare sauce or something (like the one that had been on the oyster sliders) to just round it out and moisten it up. Kind of a shame since the fixes are so easy.

Finally, we had the PB&J gelato with trimmings. The gelato was nice of course but the caramel popcorn was the standout here. Really, really delicious. Waffle ladyfingers were very nice too :)

I would have to say with Mishmosh that it was really good value for money at $25 for two courses and a drink. If I went again I'd get the oyster sliders and the beef and not be embarrassed to flip open the burger and put some salt and pepper on the patty. Also, just a warning that you are very likely to be seated on tall backless stools.

Sunday: El Matador

El Matador has been great whenever I've been there so I had pretty high expectations. I opened up with the bavette with chimichurri which was, first off, HUGE. the picture doesn't do it justice. This was a very large steak, basically. It dripped juices and chimichurri and was delicious.

It was followed by pork loin with apple sauce, crumbed fried cauliflower and walnut and lentil salad. Again, this was HUGE - like, so big I didn't finish, and let me tell you: I can eat. I took some home in a doggy bag and had it for lunch today and I was very happy I did, since I otherwise risked a trip to Rome. The pork was really lovely - beautifully seasoned with chili, tender as anything. I don't much like big pieces of pork generally because they are usually dry, but this is the second year in a row it's been great at El Matador - obviously they know how to do the thing. The cauliflower was delicious and so was the walnut and lentil salad, especially with the chili apple from the pork mixed in. I have to say that the salad by itself could have been a meal. Protein density: VERY HIGH.

I had the panqueques for dessert - these were basically crepes with dulce de leche sauce and ice cream with a praline topping. I'd had them last year too and they were yum then and yum this year. I will just add a tip: definitely go to El Matador at lunch and order dessert separately. Their WOAP 2 courses is $35, dinner for 3 courses is $55, but the desserts - and the panqueques at least are on their regular menu - are only $10 or $11. So I got 3 courses at lunch for $46 as opposed to $55. Bit of dodgy accounting there, especially as there is no way in hell that servings could be larger at dinner or anything.

Overall I found this meal (huge and) lovely. Unfortunately K and C, who had the vege burger, found it very dry and difficult to get through, which I think is a huge shame because they've done good vege burgers there before.

Little Beer Quarter

We went to LBQ last year and had one of those bad-experiences-through-no-fault-of-the-restaurant, so I wanted to go again and give it a make-up exam, so to speak. Last year we'd gone on a busy Friday full of the post-work crowd. They weren't totally ready to do food and it was packed to the gills, so we were all boiling hot. Then the starter was enormous and bread-heavy. Although its components were delicious - I especially remember the deep-fried gherkin - we all ate so much that we struggled through the sloppy joe. Generally we were crowded and hot and slightly nauseous and so even the food was good we weren't that happy. (I do remember really liking the banana split at the end, though!)

Anyway, we were much happier this year - although we did end up on tall backless stools again, sigh. (I guess at least LBQ and Mishmosh have an excuse for this - they are generally bars, not restaurants.) We were in a far less crowded corner and I thought the serving sizes were rather better judged. I had the beef and beetroot cured salmon gravlax with guac and popped capers.

Sidebar: I LOVE popped capers. Popped capers rule the world. The best light brunch in Upper Cuba is a salmon and cream cheese bagel with popped capers from Fidels. So, so great.

Anyway this was a delicious starter (and attractively plated - actually the presentation here was great, probably the best all weekend, which is sort of wild for a place that is, you know, mostly a craft beer bar that does bar snacks). You could really taste the beer in the cure, but not in an intrusive way, just in a tasty and interesting way. The pumpernickel bread was a nice combo, the guacamole was lovely - this all just went together really beautifully, both on the plate and in my mouth.

I had the Lamb Wellington, obviously a spin on Beef Wellington, for my main - chiefly because I've wanted to try Beef Wellington since they made it on Great British Bake Off a few seasons ago. (I like my photo better than V's photo of C's plate but if you're not twitter friends with me you may not be able to see it.) This was just beautiful. The lamb was so beautifully cooked and just had this incredible lamby lamb lamb lamb purity about it. My god it was good. The mushroom duxelle around it was delicious too, which makes it the second mushroom duxelle I've eaten this year and found incredibly tasty, so this year's plan to make myself like mushrooms has at least reached a tender beginning. The beans were perfectly (i.e. barely) cooked and the poached tamarillo was an amazing accompaniment that I would never have come up with - just set everything off perfectly.

One sour note: the pastry was pretty well undercooked everywhere except the very top and in some bits basically uncooked. But who cares, you're not in it for the pastry, if that's the trade-off for the perfectly-cooked lamb chunk I'll take it.

I also tried the gnocchi in bloody mary sauce which I have to say was delicious, with a real kick to it. Other people at the table felt there were too many onions, though.

Dessert was stout & chocolate pots with orange biscotti. These were a bit of a letdown because they had this very weird aftertaste/texture that was basically heavily cornfloury. I still liked them, especially with the biscotti, and thought the flavour was great, but other people weren't big fans of the texture or consistency - V described it as basically like chocolate pudding you make from a packet (I thought it had a subtler flavour than that :P) Anyway, that's a bit of a shame, but even so for me it was a good accompaniment to the mains - I like to finish off with something sweet. I would say this was my favourite meal so far.

Next weekend: the Epic Weekend of [ profile] stickmarionette's visit, with Fratelli, Cafe Polo, Coco at the Roxy, Duke Carvell's, Ti Kouka and Basque. We might die.

Date: 2015-08-17 10:21 am (UTC)
hazel: (behaving ourselves for the ladies)
From: [personal profile] hazel
This is such a great review of what has been a pretty great Fat August 2015 so far - I'm so envious of El Mat, because that sounds amazeballs, and angry that it seems to be my nemesis. (I did get to eat the leftover half of C's LBQ Lamb Wellington though and agree on all points - tasty tasty delicious.)

Date: 2015-08-17 10:21 am (UTC)
shihadchick: text: "makes awesome injoke that references eight different fandoms, three different countries and also curling" (Default)
From: [personal profile] shihadchick
I am enjoying adjacent-to-#fataugust fandom quite a lot :D also I forget if I said on twitter, but the tuna and deconstructed coacktail esp looked SO GOOD and I have envy.

Date: 2015-08-17 10:37 am (UTC)
tamarillow: picture of owl in coffee beans and cups, text 'night owls run on coffee' (nightowl)
From: [personal profile] tamarillow
this is a really great post, and our team up at Mishmosh was a great idea. With the large portions 3 courses might have been a bit much. But yeah the starters and dessert there were much better than the burger.

Date: 2015-08-18 02:05 am (UTC)
jamethiel: A common kingfisher sits on a branch with a background of green foliage. (Default)
From: [personal profile] jamethiel
Lamb/Beef Wellington is dreadfully difficult. You need to cook it so the meat is juuuust slightly undercooked, while watching the top like a hawk (I generally wrap mine in foil after about 10 minutes) and then turn it and crank up the heat to try and slightly crisp off the bottom pastry.

And apparently you're meant to know how the meat is done psychically, cause you can't see it. I find it's something only to be attempted if you are psychic.


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