Chef Shoemaker comes out of the kitchen to talk us through his first dish. He has a great smile. He avoids the traditional toque and chef's whites. Appealing and friendly, he wears a baseball cap and a brown apron. His first presentation is visually stunning.
The Edible Cocktail is a Meyer lemon icy-foam gin martini sharing a block of charred wood with two Asian spoons. We raise our glasses to salute the chef and each other. The cocktail is delicious and fun like eating a best-ever lemony snow cone. Then we feast on the spoons, enjoying the mix of textures, temperatures and flavors. Sweet, frozen, crunchy, spicy and acidic sensations roll around in our mouths. The evening begins with a “wow”.
The foie gras is exactly what I want from a fine dining chef. He should have a mastery of technique. Display flawless execution. Present artful platings. Cook with inventive parings of textures. From the beginning to the end, Shoemaker delivers in all those ways.
Talking about the meal, everyone has their favorite dish. Mine is the pork belly. A fat triangle of pork skin is fried to airy crispness. Which contrasts perfectly with the fork-tender, apple cider poached pork belly served with a sunny-side up quail egg, the yolk still runny, and pureed sweet potato flavored with maple syrup and bourbon. As we eat, all conversation ends. We're all too busy savoring each bite to talk. I am careful to maximize the deliciousness of the dish. I swab bits of pork belly into the richly sweet sweet potato, being sure to add a bit of egg yolk and maple syrup.