#92: Participate in a Holdfast Dining Event

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

This has been on Becky’s list for a looooong time. Let me tell you the story.

There are two chefs, Will and Joel. They’ve been cooking for a while, and are quite good at it. They make dinner three nights a week, in a borrowed kitchen. Tickets go on sale once every month, and generally sell out in 15 minutes. This isn’t like any restaurant you or we or anyone we know has ever been to.

This is the menu for our dinner. Unlike many fancy restaurants, they don’t give you the whole recipe, just the main ingredients. And yes, there really are ten courses.

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Here’s a view of our “table,” which again is very different from other fancy restaurants. Usually you never see, hear, or talk to the cooks, but this is more like being at home with these guys – you watch them cook, commiserate over the food, and chat amiably while they pour the wine.

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Normally we try very hard not to be those people, and keep our phones and cameras tucked politely away during dinner. But the chefs themselves encouraged photography and live-tweeting, so we can show you all the things that we put inside ourselves and still dream about.

That’s a giant, paper-thin slice of radish, with a perfect scallop tucked underneath.

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A crab cake with tiny apple and celery-root flowers.

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Razor clams, with parsnip “fries,” puree, and crackery-thin on top.

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Perfect black cod. One woman nearly fainted upon tasting the exquisite broth.

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That’s an egg yolk that’s been poached in butter for two hours, with three kinds of mushrooms, sunchokes two ways, and shavings of amazing ham.

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Our second meat course: pork cooked sous vide, then finished on a hickory fire. On the side are brussels sprouts and romanescu.

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Most of the menu changes every week, but this has been a staple since dinner #1: a cornbread madeleine soaked in melted lardo, toped with honeycomb and ample fresh-shaved parmesan. Salty, sweet, porky.

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This one is impossible to describe. It was like honey ice cream that evaporated in your mouth.

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Goat’s milk panacotta, with granola and squash.

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Perfect coffee and “candies.” The little white spheres exploded in your mouth with some kind of delicious liquid.

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The thing that struck us the most was the utter lack of pretension. The food was extraordinary, but all the ceremony and pomp and swagger that usually surrounds such a feast has been stripped away, letting you truly revel in the meal, and share your delight directly with those responsible. And it’s not just an act, none of this friendliness is hipstery or ironic; they really do seem to be this warm and approachable.

We’re not doing this justice at all, but we’re pretty sure no food writer could. We’re going back.

2 thoughts on “#92: Participate in a Holdfast Dining Event

  1. Pingback: #2: Dine at a Portland “Restaurant of the Year” – Nomad | Band of Charac­ters

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