This dinner was all about pecans and Sweetwater beer pairings with each course.
The night started with a tasting of Sweetwater staple 420. It goes down easy.
Amuse: a free range chicken nacho
Tender chicken with pecan and jalapeno slaw and creamy vinaigrette. Very well flavored! Exciting my palate as was intended. Perfect contrast of a light crisp corn chip and silky chicken and dressing. Nice crunch of pecans and raw onion for added contrast. The heat triggered my spicy hiccup reflex but that lasted all of 60 seconds and I was ready for the appetizer. I’d love to see this featured in a bar menu size portion. I could have easily eaten a dozen with some beer or a cocktail.
Appetizer- Fudge Farms pork pate
The chef soaked the pork liver to get out all the heavy metals taste from the organ before refining it thru the gauntlet of tricks to turn it into a well seasoned smooth concoction. The top was kissed with sturgeon caviar. Deliciously complimented with Pecan marmalade. This garnish was one of my favorite things of the night. I thought I tasted a very fine mince of shallot in it and absolutely it added depth and brightness. Never underestimate the power of well placed raw onion and garlic. It’s beautiful in the right applications and this is one of those. The pate itself reminded me of Braunschweiger, a pork liver sausage but elevated. I noticed my whole table ate up very bit of it. Additionally Wakefield housemade some bread and butter pickles. Slightly soggy but I found the brine flavor perfect. The bar made a shot out of that brine with some vodka and it really was surprisingly delicious. The creativity here had me feeling fire inside.
Sidenote, the crank tank rye’d ale with this is incredible. Wonderful citrus notes that really stood out when paired with this course.
Second course -Pecan Smoked Scottish Salmon
Wakefield house smokes this course as he did with last months peach focused menu. The man has some serious game with a smoker. It’s never too heavy and flavored well. Upon the plates coming to the table the deliciously heady smoke scent permeated the air around me. It absolutely set a tone and made me want to eat. It was perched atop nicely steamed broccolini and a thick single Johnny cake studded with pecans and bacon.
The salmon had nice texture and flavor. The Johnny cake didn’t have a lot of flavor and was on the dry side but it’s a nice concept. The delicious pecan lemon aioli helped bring all the flavors together. I’d like to see it reattempted with two thinner more tender Johnny cakes and definitely more bacon action.
IPA is a rough pairing here (IPA is hard on food in general)
Third course - Grilled Sonoma county duck breast
This dish featured my favorite taste of the meal. The duck breast was laid over the best savory bread pudding I’ve ever tasted. Chock full of wild mushrooms and pecans and baked for a crusty top and tender bottom. I want this on my Thanksgiving table and maybe even appearing once a week on my dinner plate during the fall and winter season. Savory bread puddings are a tightrope that can go off on the overly salted side or under flavored mass of glue. This had no fault on either side. Duck breast is hard to pull off for a crowd like this (over 30 people) but it was not overcooked, still had some moist pink flesh displayed in the fanning presentation. It could have had a better render on the skin but I still ate every bite of it and I was already borderline full. The pecan gremolata had a bright taste of lime when it hit my mouth. Nice dish.
Dessert Georgia Pecan waffle
This was all over the place. The waffle I am still undecided on. It had some nice weight to it and seemed to have multigrain vs all white flour base. Dense and cakey. Pecan brittle was a garnish. Hard to eat. It felt crisp but spongy in texture. I ate it all because I don’t mind any of that but my table was all complaining. Can’t please everyone all the time. High Road ice cream made another appearance here (I had it at Double Zero too) in the form of Fire Roasted Pecan ice cream.
Still feeling impressed with the creativity coming out of this kitchen. Looking forward to Oktoberfest. They are taking a break in September.