Mystery Review – How to Eat in Your Favorite Chef’s Dining Room

Location: Once named Petapawag

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Yes, I have a dirty habit of secretively clinging to some of my more exclusive dining experiences while simultaneously bragging about them here on the blog. But hey, we all have our foibles.

Plus, there’s always Google if you are inspired enough to track down the source of a mystery review. Or, you can unabashedly support my ego by pleading for the answer via the bird or the lower-case f.

Like the last mystery review, this one was inspired by a restaurant that combined exclusivity, farm-to-table cooking, and culinary intimacy.

We hopped in a car and drove on three or four highways. We passed by the relatively unmarked locale in the dark a few times before reaching our final destination.

The time: 6:45. We were told to arrive promptly. Dinner is served only on Friday and Saturday nights.

The menu: Shown below. They had me at “duck cracklings”

The scene: There are many reasons why this town founded by the great John Tinker was worth visiting for a three-hour dining experience at said mystery establishment. Here are a few:

  • Seasonally-inspired, farm-to-table cooking in an environment where the chef personally introduces each course and answers questions about their approach
  • Six courses of exquisitely-executed food for $60. A steal for the quality you receive here.
  • A rare BYOB establishment. We sported a 2005 Premier Cru Bourgogne from Domaine Michel Gay et Fils for the occasion.
  • Small capacity, communal-dining format housed in a refurbished carriage house on the grounds of a farmstead.
  • The place is run by a family powered by a passion for sharing good foodstuffs.

The food: Painstakingly prepared, creatively concocted – unique dishes with a nod to tradition. Duck smoked to succulent perfection. Apples reduced over the course of several hours to caramel. Parsnip and pear married into a rich and creamy soup. Careful thought applied to create a quintessential late Fall meal. Others we spoke with throughout the evening had been here five, six, seven times and said the cooking never falls short of spectacular. Observe:

Parsnip & Pear Soup

 

Poached Pear & Mache Salad

 

Fenugreek-Smoked Duck

 

Pumpkin Panna Cotta, Apple Caramel, Haute Fig Newton

The people: Unlike other eateries, our mystery locale will seat you at a large table with other hungry food lovers. Yes, there will be an expectation of that thing called “socializing” in which you will meet other human beings and communicate verbally. You can also bring a larger crowd and occupy one of two tables that seat six to eight individuals to solely exchange words with your own circle.

We loved the communal slant on everything though. Got a chance to meet the owners, our chef for the evening (a seasoned vet with several restaurants under his belt), a group of musicians, and a fellow blogger who writes an approachable, personal, and funny healthy living blog that can be found at sweatygirl.net. Our table mates laughed at our jokes, shared in our food joys, and overlooked our curious weird-nesses. For that we love them. The shared dining experience confirmed my believe that good cuisine is only enhanced by good chummeryTM

Excellent food, BYOB, reasonable price, intimate setting, awesome chef, farm-to-table, creative technique, social interaction – you understand my desire to keep this one under relative lock and key, right?