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Chris Hennes

Bulrush (STL)

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We've already discussed Bulrush quite a bit here, of course:

 

And they've received some high accolades from the media:

 

I had the chance to revisit Bulrush this weekend to see what Rob was doing with his winter menu (it's December 2019 as I write this). Obviously I'm hopelessly biased, so this isn't really a review, just some comments on that experience. It's also a place for us to continue to post reports as more of us get to visit this St. Louis gem created by one of our own.

 

No photos this time, so descriptions will have to do...

 

Course 1: Purple hull peas, Fioriani cornbread, Sorghum custard, New season sorghum

Served as a small cube of cornbread atop the custard, topped with the peas, at room temperature. Great cornbread and perfect peas, this was a great start.

 

Course 2: Winter squash, Ricotta mousse, Pepitas, Onion ash

I love pumpkin seeds, which added a great textural element to this dish, served as a ring of squash surrounding the mouse. I believe it was an acorn squash the night we were there.

 

Course 3: Autumn olive foam, Lactose-caramelized pumpkin, Pumpkin caramel, Cocoa crisp

Rob introduced this one as "last night's turd," which got some nervous laughs from our fellow diners. Apparently the dish had not worked on the previous day, so they had reworked it and were giving a revised version another go. It is presented as a cocoa crisp covering...something. You never do get to really see what's under there, and while most of the bites were good, if nondescript, a couple times I got huge pops of coriander, which tends to take over. So maybe some more work on this one...

 

Course 4: Turkey mousseline, Cornbread crumb, Soured corn puree, Fermented hot sauce

The ingredient list pretty much sums this one up: the mousseline was excellent, and the sour corn puree and homemade hot sauce were excellent accompaniments. Maybe the best dish of the night.

 

Course 5: Roasted celery root, Saguaro apples, Pumpkin aguachile, Oxtail, Bok choy

I love celery root, so of course I liked this one. I also thought that the complex combination of richness and acidity worked very well. I don't remember the bok choy at all, however!

 

Course 6: Pork cheek, Grilled carrots, Whey-braised turnips, Turnip top emulsion, Apple demi-glace

A much smaller "meat course" than last time, which I appreciated. I thought the turnips were a bit too salty, however, and the turnip top emulsion was sort of bland. Nice ideas, but this didn't come together for me.

 

Intermezzo: Maple pawpaw amazake

The only course with eating instructions, and judging from the coughing down the counter I'd guess even more instructions were probably needed! It's a liquid-filled sphere, which I think caught some of our dining companions off guard.

 

Course 7: "Bolero" carrot cake, acorn miso rye butterscotch, Roasted pumpkin, Malted milk crumb, Fuilletine crepes

My kind of desert: just a tiny bit of sweetness, with a terrific blend of flavors that all sequenced well.

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Thanks Chris - that is an amazing recounting of such diverse and unexpected flavors. What goes on in that man's mind ;)

Also I appreciate the no photo descriptions. It makes us think more about what it tasted like. Much like Marlena Spieler's non image blog  https://forums.egullet.org/topic/80538-eg-foodblog-marlena-life-is-delicious-wherever-i-am/   Hpefully others will have the chance to visit and report. 

 


Edited by heidih (log)

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Right now we're in the midst of all of the end of year lists. It's so clear to me now how much folly it is to make these lists. When we're on top, of course, I think the writer is spot on. And when we're second, (or worse, grouped with all of the other non-firsts) naturally I cant believe the writer is so off the mark. How do you compare an intellectually compelling fine dining tasting menu to an upscale neighborhood joint or an Asian fusion fast casual? You can't, but they do. Anyway, it's the business.

 

So that was all going down while you visited and posted your comments above. And I can't tell you how much I appreciated the return visit - like seriously, anyone with any amount of time on eG knows that this restaurant and my last are intricately tied to the eG community.

 

So, to a few of your comments:

•From day 1 I've argued that food should drive the experience and not the description of the food. Increasingly I'm feeling like that was a poor decision. I may even try doing expanded menus for the rest of the year. There's not a dish on this list that doesn't involve koji or various forms of fermentation, alongside the vast local sourcing that we're doing. Not that it's about getting credit, but reading all of the end of year lists, and seeing your descriptions, I think I need to offer more details.

 

•That Turd course continued to evolve. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night's version. I finally removed the autumn olive which had been the driver, because it's just too challenging to work with. I'll find a new home for it where it's not the lead, but the follow. 

 

•The bok choy was a pickled julienne atop the oxtail. I'm hesitant to add anymore or it'll take the richness:acid ratio off, but it was there.

 

•And thanks for your comment on the dessert. I think you forgot the essence of wet earth :) It's ridiculous but it smells so good!

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@edsel  Thanks - looks like a happy bunch of diners

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Well, although we tried to arrange an eG gathering this summer at Bulrush, a certain public health crisis intervened, and we've basically all been cooped up in our homes for the last several months. However, Bulrush is open again with very limited seating, and an expanded meal, so I ventured out to STL to give it a spin. This was without a doubt the best meal I've had to date at Bulrush...

 

Asparagus -

Dried chicken liver

Fermented aspragus

Foraged sumac

Asparagus emulsion

20200711-DSC_5641.jpg

 

Carrot -

Nixtamalized baby carrot

Cinnebar mushroom powder

Rye crisp

Carrot top pesto

20200711-DSC_5643.jpg

 

Ricotta & Squash - 

Ricotta mouse

Compressed squash w/ lovage

Grilled shishito peppers

Gooseberry verjus

20200711-DSC_5646.jpg

 

Cabbage -

Garlic miso runner cabbage

Buttermilk gel

Blueberry anise sauce

Pickled gooseberry & mulberry

Sauercorn

20200711-DSC_5650.jpg

 

Corn Soup - 

Chanterelle

Sauercorn

Pork belly

20200711-DSC_5653.jpg

 

Acorn donut -

Black walnut nocino

Buttermilk roasted turnip

Pecan praline

White chocolate potato mousse

20200711-DSC_5654.jpg

 

Walleye - 

Fermented chanterelle sauce

Grilled leek

Daikon radish

Leek oil

20200711-DSC_5656.jpg

 

Poached hen's yolk - 

Edible "shell"

Fermented dandelion honey

Cured yolk

English peas

Marigold

20200711-DSC_5659.jpg

 

Pork cheek - 

Sassafras root glaze

"Grilled" grits

Chanterelle

Blueberry salt

Gooseberry

20200711-DSC_5661.jpg

 

Mignardise - 

Mulberry & cherry pate de fruit

Mulberry bonbon

20200711-DSC_5665.jpg

 

Rhubarb vinegar ice cream -

Mulberry meringue

Buckwheat honey cake

Mulberry compote

20200711-DSC_5668.jpg

 

Overall the meal was characterized by surprising and delicious flavor and texture combinations: in fact, I thought the least successful dish was the walleye, because it was so... normal! Delicious, but out of place among all of the other flavor combinations during the course of the meal. I also chatted with Rob about the cured hen's egg a bit -- it hasn't been his guests' favorite. The savory gel thing isn't sitting well with diners here, which I think is too bad, because I thought that dish was really excellent. It's got great flavors and textures, but I guess cured egg yolk is just too "out there" for a general audience.

 

I will also say that I appreciate the diligence of the staff's cleaning protocols, and the very large spacing between people in the dining room. You could hardly be in a safer environment, if you do choose to venture out of the house.

 

PS - Of course, we are staying at the Angad Arts hotel again. On a red floor this time:

20200711-DSC_5636.jpg

 

20200711-DSC_5637.jpg

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Wow. Rob puts an incredible amount of thought into his dishes The man must never sleep with the ideas spinning in his head, The plates/bowls are stunning as well. Thanks!

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WOW!  Thanks for all of the descriptions and pictures.

 

Rob I wish you could send all of that to Kansas :)  .  

 

Chris, that's funny about the walleye.  That is our favorite fish and they have been very hard to catch in the last few years.  At most of the lakes that we go to the length has to be at least 21" and those are few and far between.  All this to say that that dish stood out the most to me in the pictures.  Oh and the hen's yolk is something I'd love love love to try.

 

PS.  Those eyeball pillows always freak me out lol.  

 

 

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I'll say just a few more words about my two favorite dishes of the night...

 

19 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Carrot -

Nixtamalized baby carrot

Cinnebar mushroom powder

Rye crisp

Carrot top pesto

20200711-DSC_5643.jpg

 

 

The flavors and textures on this one were spectacular, I think in the truest sense of the word. The rye crisp was very crispy, with savory caramel and chocolate notes, which contrasted beautifully with the baby carrot and carrot top pesto. The topping had great little pops of coriander which enlivened the dish, and the overall combination was superb. I'd eat this every day.

 

19 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Ricotta & Squash - 

Ricotta mouse

Compressed squash w/ lovage

Grilled shishito peppers

Gooseberry verjus

20200711-DSC_5646.jpg

 

 

The rich, umami-heavy ricotta mousse was a perfect contrast to bitterness of the grilled shishito peppers, with little pops from the gooseberries. Amazing.

 

1 hour ago, Shelby said:

Chris, that's funny about the walleye.  That is our favorite fish and they have been very hard to catch in the last few years.

 

Right - don't get me wrong, the dish was delicious. But Bulrush is attaining heights now where merely "delicious" isn't good enough! At its core it was white fish in beurre blanc. Where were the fermented whatsits and crispy thingamabobs and OMG WHAT moments? I joked with Justin that it wasn't complicated enough :).

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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11 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

I'll take anyone's reject cured yolks anytime! Delicious!

 

Yes here in Los Angeles it is common but as noted  StL not so much.The man is trying ;)

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