Restaurant reviews are something that went out the window a looong time ago around here. I posted a few at the beginning and then realized that I strongly disliked writing reviews. I just wanted to enjoy my meal, not sweat the poor lighting for photos and hour long write up upon my return home. Non merci.
You can read my full BHF'11 recap on Simple Bites -I had a marvelous time- but over here we're going to talk about dinner.
Empire State South. A Canadian chef's modern take on Southern food, served up in style, with plenty of love.
ESS proudly considers itself a farm-to-table restaurant, which reminded me a lot of our own Toque! and the scads of in-house charcuterie bordered on Au Pied du Cochon's style.
Needless to say, I felt quite at home at Empire State South.
My dining companions? Eight fabulous rock-star food bloggers. You just may recognize a few names here: Alice & her husband Rob, Sandy, Carrie, Amanda, Tara, Jenny, Lori, Shaina.
Along with Danny and I, we invaded the small-ish Empire State South and proceeded to ordered half the menu.
Thanks to Amanda, I've got food photos from the meal. I was too busy gabbing with the girls to work the camera and was happy to hand it over to the competent Amanda.
Amanda's first oyster! This ain't no New York cupcake - The girl is fearless.
Soft Poached Farm Egg anson mills grits, maitake, baby celery.
Strawberry Gazpacho, pickled shrimp, asparagus, marcona almonds.
Ramp Orecchiette, carrot puree, carrots, english peas, squash and benne.
Roasted Grouper, pea broth, young zucchini.
There are no photos of desserts to speak of, save this one, snapped with my iPhone.
We ordered eight plates, but they disappeared so fast. I was sitting next to Amanda and I don't know anyone who loves sweets more that that girl!
I knew that if I wanted a fighting chance at tasting dessert, I had to put the camera down. And so I did.
- Coconut Cream Pie, almond brittle,
- Fried strawberry pie, pickled strawberry, buttermilk ice cream
- Coke soft serve ice cream, peanut funnel cake (pictured above)
- Grasshopper Terrine, candied chocolate mint
Consensus? We loved Empire State South. The entire evening was surreal. Fantastic food. Brilliant company. Inspiring conversation. I think it lasted about three hours, and is definitely going in the books as one of my most memorable dining experiences.