By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Then there are the crab cakes, the bane of contemporary dining. Most times, crab cakes seem bred from Underwood deviled spreads and Shake 'n Bake. Hibiscus crab cakes are fantastically minimalist; a blend of backfin lump for texture and Dungeness for creamy sweetness. The cakes are loose and messy, with only chunks and shavings of meat to bind them into shape. The cake part comes from a bronzed coating of Panko bread crumbs blended with crushed Ritz crackers.
Yet a couple of dishes leave the head ripe for a scratch. The much prattled about tuna & foie is one. I've always believed that foie gras--like fine caviar--should be left the hell alone, especially this foie gras. It's flash-seared, leaving a stiff charred crust on the outside sheltering a creamy lushness on the inside. The lobe is brushed with hibiscus/fruit tea-infused honey blended with soy. This creates a subtle floral breeze coiled with a delicate fruity mist, a more appropriate treatment than the extracted and distractingly dense fruit reductions usually paired with foie gras. With foie gras this delicious, why bother with anything but a few greens and a wedge of passion fruit? Not that the coarse-chopped tuna tartare blended with lime juice, soy and sriracha (chile paste) mayo isn't stellar. It is. Yet it's difficult to see how the two relate. These are two completely different shades of richness that talk over each other when forced to converse. The sum is less than its parts--much less.
There are inconsistencies as well. On one visit the osso bucco--brilliantly paired with a blue cheese polenta that stabs with a searing tang--was dry and sticky. On another, the meat was rich and moist. Yet the best part of this dish is the topping: a split shank bone with the exposed marrow smeared with a foie gras gremolata. Skip the veal and just serve a bowl of bones for God's sake. Likewise, the spicy lobster cocktail, with healthy claw chunks soaked in lime, tangerine and OJ and paired with amazing Canton tomatoes and avocado, had barely a peep of citrus. On a second visit, the acids were pumped up, and the dish hummed.
Long-bone pork chop isn't slapping pink. My dining companion even pronounced it overcooked. But it's still an impressive slab with a tender sternness and a cured intensity as chile stabs duke it out with dry rub sweetness. "Pork is a love," Badovinus says. "I'm so down with the hog it's not even funny. I think I ingest pork six different ways seven different days." He says this after admitting he pan-sears fresh-caught salmon in bacon grease. Someone cut his Han Solo hair before he grows Hasidic curls. 2827 N. Henderson Ave., 214-827-2927. Open Monday-Saturday 5-11 p.m. $$$$