A beast that Chef Steve Marques took on recently. Formerly of Tasting Room Uptown, Steve is now executive chef of Coal Vines in Sugarland, and presented tasting adventure for sans alcohol, by drawing upon his unexercised repertoire of home made sodas and phosphates.
The meal started with an amuse bouche, pairing of in season oysters with home made ginger ale. This pairing was sheer genius. The minerality of the oysters popped with the spicy zing of the ginger ale. There was a clear story in this bite, with layers of texture and flavor that flowed with the bite and the sip.
|Gulf oysters, saffron mignonette, celery leaves. A bit large for an amuse bouche, but we weren't complaining.
|House made ginger ale.
|Celery, olive, goat cheese salad.
|Salmon, thyme, bay, Meyer lemon cooked en papillote.
|Meyer lemon phosphate
|Pheasant stuffed with pistachios, Japanese sweet potato puree, cranberry relish.
|Cranberry birch beer
|Dinner was capped by the "best chocolate ice cream in the world", redolent with thyme, salt, dried cherries and pistachios, accompanied by a salted caramel ice cream with candied cashews.
Steve has some great ideas in the works for the sodas (the ginger ale is definitely a keeper, even if it is served alone); and he conquered the rare beast. Convention relegates nonalcoholic pairings as kid stuff, but I was fortunate enough to witness (and taste) one that is fun, sophisticated and mature.