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Snack Bar!


Lateralus
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We had a great time at snackbar last night. It was so nice to see Johnny Mac letting loose, doing the kind of food that he wants to do.

The hamachi crudo was my least favorite. I thought that the Campari caviar overwhelmed the fish with bitterness. By itself the dish was very enjoyable, though.

The salad was great, I don't know how much of my enjoyment of the veggies was due to their intrinsic quality as opposed to the method of cooking, but they were terrific.

The chicken wings were addictive, bursts of pure umami.

I though the lamb was chewy, but this is not a cut known for its tenderness, and the flavors were right on.

The cheese course was outstanding

There isn't any other restaurant in town doing food like this. It has to be encouraged. We were heartbroken when brunch disappeared -- let's help to make these tasting menus more frequent, if anything. I'm looking forward to the next one!

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Assorted thoughts, in order:

Started with a Butt Monkey. The local ale, that is. Perfectly correct brew, but a beer with a name like that, seems to me, has an obligation to deliver some sort of jolt to the senses. Not so much here: pleasant light ale.

My response to the Hamachi Crudo was much more positive than some: the Campari, passionfruit and preserved orange, taken all in all, provided a tangy citrus counterpoint to the fish - not a new notion, but definitely given a kick by the presentation and the "caviar" globules. For me, this definitely worked.

The Pinot Grigio was a decent match.

I'll agree that the Not So Tossed Salad was one of the hits of the evening: not all the veggies were SV. In fact, the different preparations were part of the point, I thought, as you encountered different textures, flavors and combinations as you progressed down the plate.

The Gruner Veltliner worked beautifully here, in a difficult match.

The Chicken Wing Confit was good, but lacked maybe a bit of richness to take it over the top. I can see either letting the meat retain some extra fat from the slow cooking, or bringing the chocolate and cheese a bit forward.

Even so, the Gruner Veltliner had little to say in this match. Needed something red with a bit of earth, I think. A light, dry Pinot Noir, maybe.

Changed my mind on the poached cod: when I first tasted it, the cherries were pretty overwhelming. After that, though, balancing the forkfuls differently, the dish fell into balance, and the cherries became more of an accent. Delicious. Only suggestion might be to serve the cherries in smaller chunks, so idiots like me don't screw things up.

The Rose was very pleasant here, with just enough cherry notes of its own to harmonize.

I didn't find the lamb chewy myself. Mine was actually very tender, which I'd expect from SV, and had the clarity of flavor the process gives the meat. The chickpea puree was a good accent here, but the Minted Lamb Tea was, for me, the hit of the evening: light, profound lamb flavor, a mint note running clear through every sip. The absolute shizzle, my friends.

The Shiraz was a perfect match. I might have gone for a leaner iteration of syrah, but that's a petty quibble.

The cheese was sharp and rich. The preparation did no harm, but it needed to be kicked up a notch to have much of an impact.

The Port was a perfect match.

The dessert... I can see, from a purely intellectual standpoint, that it was very good. I just happen to not be a great fan of the caramel-sweet approach to meal-ending. More of a tangy-fruity fan.

The Port worked decently here, but I think a Tawny, say one of the great Australian stickies that crowd the shelves, would have been perfect. And they're dirt *cheap*, Jonathan!

Overall, an excellent meal, and great value. There were no clunkers in the lineup, in my opinion, and the food was as interesting as it was delicious. The wine matches were good in general, though they could have been more adventurous. Still, for the price I can hardly complain...

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Started with a Butt Monkey.

I'm pretty confident that this is the first time I've ever seen this phrase in print, certainly here on eG.

Thanks everyone for the descriptions, and Percy for the pix, sounds like a great meal, and I look forward to the next one!

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I'm fairly late but I'll add my two cents.

First of all, the meal was excellent. My only regret is not being able to be here for the next one. As I told the chef via email the following day, it seems like I was very much correct in my original assumption: the kitchen is really something different - something much better - when it is able to actually express itself as it should.

Coming to details:

I concur that the campari in the hamachi crudo overpowered the fish somewhat. Perhaps a little less campari would've worked better.

I particularly enjoyed the salad and I'd love to know how the 'mushroom soil' was created.

The chicken wings were possibly the highlight of the evening. The texture in particular was impressive.

The cod/pumpernickel/sour cherry combination was unexpected but very interesting. I would wonder if something similar could be done with Sparus aurata?

I also liked the lamb with chickpea yoghurt. That which I had was definintely not chewy and the yoghurt was a very good accompaniment, as was the consomme'.

The bleu, possibly, was the only thing that could be changed a bit: the cheese really overpowered the cocoa. Maybe mixing it with something a little milder would've worked better? Also, I was under the perhaps mistaken impression that the brulee was passion fruit, not port?

The treacle pudding on the other hand was a definite highlight. I liked how the shortbread managed to temper the sweetness of the molasses.

As to the wine accompaniments, I would've perhaps chosen differently, but then again, I am a peculiar european. I prefer my residual sugars .. a little lower, perhaps.

With this said, my final comment on the meal is 'here's to many more!' We'll be back for December, we hope.

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grazie, fabio.

mushroom soil:

we use dried shiitake mushrooms from an asian supplier, but you could substitute almost any kind you wish. the 'powder' is made from buzzing the dried mushrooms in a high powered blender (vita prep). the recipe follows.....

70g mushroom powder

60g all purpose flour

100g almond flour

8g kosher salt

120g melted butter

combine flours, salt, powder. pour in butter and mix well by hand. spread on baking sheet and toast for 10-12 minutes at 300 F. cool. break with hands, whisk, or for a superfine 'sand'....back into the blender.

this recipes works for coffee soil, red pepper soil, pea soil, hazelnut soil, etc. just make sure that whatever you use for the flavor is very very dry.

the brulee was indeed port wine with apple cider. we used versa whip and xanthan gum to give it a meringue texture.

and by the way, the wine pairings in the future are much more focused! got some slammin ones lined up!

"the soul contains three elements in dining: to feel, to remember, to imagine." --andoni luiz aduriz

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That "soil" recipe seems like quite a versatile tool to play with... savory and sweet both work with the almond base. What else has worked particularly or surprisingly well? Any notable failures with stuff that looked like it would work?

Also, does it matter if the almond flour is blanched, or would the Trader Joe's stuff with the skins ground up in it work just as well?

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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it really is a great tool. wylie dufresne has made some really great ones. he did the pea soil on a dish containing a liquid center foie gras torchon and beets. beautiful dish (check wd-50 website).

black olive worked very well also but the flavor was soooo strong. red pepper was ridiculous both in flavor and color. working on banana soil right now (using dried banana chips). and actually, just plain old brioche was good. hit it with lemon zest, dried anchovy and parsley. kinda like an overwrought gremolata!

macadamia soil is being served on one of our new dishes, scallops with parsnip puree, baby carrots and brown butter vinaigrette. since macadamias have such a high fat content it gets a little tricky.

on the other hand, cranberry soil was disgusting.

i don't know about almond pieces. i would not recommend skins on. it might be bitter. again, the key is to dehydrate the main ingredient. we use a l'equip food dehydrator. blanched almond flour is fine.

"the soul contains three elements in dining: to feel, to remember, to imagine." --andoni luiz aduriz

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For the hazelnut or macadamia soils, are the ground almonds even necessary, or could the almonds be replaced by the other nut variety? The higher fat content of the macadamias might require less butter and more flour, right?

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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chris you are correct. i cut the butter by 50% for the macadamia soil. you could adjust the flours i suppose. part of it is the overall taste. if you can achieve a more macadamia flavor by removing the almond and increasing the ap flour, then you have a new recipe.

a better one at that :wink:

Edited by NaFairge (log)

"the soul contains three elements in dining: to feel, to remember, to imagine." --andoni luiz aduriz

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chris you are correct. i cut the butter by 50% for the macadamia soil. you could adjust the flours i suppose. part of it is the overall taste. if you can achieve a more macadamia flavor by removing the almond and increasing the ap flour, then you have a new recipe.

a better one at that  :wink:

I'll play around with it, and let you know on the 5th if anything really rocks.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Finally paid a long overdue visit to Snackbar last night. Best meal I've had in quite a while. Service was great, food was great, wine was great. We shared the boneless wings and the mussels to start, and they both were awesome. Wanted to ask for a spoon for the mussel broth after the great bread was gone.

Shared the burger with mushrooms and a sunny side up egg and the salmon next. Egg made a great burger topping, almost like a sauce. Fries were out of this world, served with spicy ketchup and aioli. Salmon had a perfect crispy skin on it, with bok choy and mango. Very good.

Too full for dessert or cheese, but will return soon for more. Thanks Johnny Mac for a great meal.

Previn Inc.

Supplier to Fine Restaurants.

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  • 3 weeks later...

snackbar . November 5, 2007

Guest Chef Shola Olunloyo, with John Macdonald, Bobby Truitt

Carrot Ginger Soup . Coconut Froth. Peanut Praline

gallery_23992_3821_8295.jpg

Scallop . "Choucroute" of Fennel and Apple . Yuzu-Miso Glaze

gallery_23992_3821_11293.jpg

Skate Wing Torchon . Nicoise Flavors

gallery_23992_3821_33381.jpg

Kobe Beef Culotte . Oxtail Gyoza . Parsnips and Chanterelles

gallery_23992_3821_46812.jpg

Chalancay Epoisses . Fennel Mostarda . Pumpernickel . Shitake Soil

gallery_23992_3821_894.jpg

Apple in Forms . Black Sesame Streusel . White Chocolate

gallery_23992_3821_23447.jpg

Caju-Lime Marshmallow. Fried Chocolate

gallery_23992_3821_5385.jpg

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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yes dave katz was in the kitchen. salt reunion!! haven't had the chance to cook with that guy since 2002.

thank you to everyone who came. it was a great evening.

by the way, yesterday was our one year anniversary. here's to more years to come.....cheers.

"the soul contains three elements in dining: to feel, to remember, to imagine." --andoni luiz aduriz

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Hey, happy birthday to snackbar! It's funny, last night it came up in conversation, and we were trying to remember when the place opened, and I think we finally decided on "about a year ago." I didn't realize how close we were!

The food was really delicious, by the way. I especially loved the soup and the oxtail gyoza, and the desserts just knocked me out. But it was all very good, the scallop dish was really nice... I think my least-favorite was the skate, but others I talked to liked it very much, so I think that was just a preference thing.

The simultaneous flavor and textural interplay of many of these dishes was especially pleasing. It's not too uncommon to find one or the other, but both at once is a treat.

I was reminded that the regular menu looks pretty great too, so I'll have to stop back on a regular night soon, it's been too long!

Thanks again to the snackbar folks for hosting this, to Shola, Johnny and Bobby for coming up with the food, and of course to David Katz and the folks on the line for banging it out so skillfully!

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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This was some seriously tasty food.

Loved the flavors on the scallop, even though it might have been the simplest course execution-wise. The skate, for me, was a real tour-de-force: I like that the varied and distinct preparations on some of the nicoise flavors (red pepper, olives, cornichons, capers) allowed them to stay relatively light on the palate, and not overwhelm a delicately flavored fish. My piece of beef was a little stringy, but the flavor was dead on. Desserts were killer: the apple dessert was damn near perfect. I've become accustomed to unremarkable mignardes at the end of the meal, so I wasn't particularly excited when the two finishers were plated in front of me, but both of them made my eyes bulge in surprise and enjoyment.

Congrats and thanks to all the chefs involved...

---

al wang

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Great dinner last night.

While eating the skate dish i remarked to my date that there were about six well executed techniques on the plate. Truly amazing that so many different techniques, flavors and textures could come together in six courses so seamlessly.

John... im curious about the composition of the dishes, did you each pick a course, or was each plate a collaboration ?

..oh yeah...... the oxtail gyoza was killer................

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I thought the meal was very good. Liked the textural element of the peanut praline in the shot of soup, and a bowlful of the shortrib gyoza would have been just fine with me. I could have walked out a happy girl with that as my dinner. The desserts were really good, and a definite leap in quality over what I'm used to at the end of a meal. My new metaphorical question is "how many angels can dance on the surface of a marshmallow?" That was the very best, etherially light marshmallow, ever. Fried chocolate was amazing as well.

While I enjoyed the wine pairings very much (particularly the Vermentino with the Scallop and the Coteaux de Layon with the cheese), the cocktails with the first and last courses weren't to my taste at all. The Basil seeds in the champagne drink left a weird slimy sludge at the bottom of the flute that I found rather unattractive, both visually and texturally. The basil seeds didn't really seem to add any flavor at all, just that odd texture. This is coming from a girl that hates bubble tea, so maybe it's just me, but I really don't like that "melted gummy bear" snot-in-my-glass thing at all, in any context. The warmed sake drink had a toothpaste-and-orange-juice effect on me. Blech. Chef said it was not as they'd wished it to be, so I presume the original recipe would have been more successful. I've had these issues myself when working out new cocktails, so I understand how hard it is to get something just perfect and ready for public consumption. Especially on a large/busy scale like last night.

Happy Anniversary and continued success to the crew at Snackbar. Thanks to everyone that made our memorable meal last night.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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the menu was a collaboration. i did one thing, shola would tweak it and vice versa. it was very much a combined effort. we let bobby run with the dessert course and the petits; that was all him.

the great thing is that i've spent so many years tugging on shola's apron strings that much of my flavor and technique comes from him anyway!!

spent many early winter mornings at SK reading old cookbooks and drinking coffee and talking shop. it felt really good to cook side by side again.

"the soul contains three elements in dining: to feel, to remember, to imagine." --andoni luiz aduriz

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I thought the meal was very good.  Liked the textural element of the peanut praline in the shot of soup, and a bowlful of the shortrib gyoza would have been just fine with me.  I could have walked out a happy girl with that as my dinner.  The desserts were really good, and a definite leap in quality over what I'm used to at the end of a meal.  My new metaphorical question is "how many angels can dance on the surface of a marshmallow?"  That was the very best, etherially light marshmallow, ever.  Fried chocolate was amazing as well.

While I enjoyed the wine pairings very much (particularly the Vermentino with the Scallop and the Coteaux de Layon with the cheese), the cocktails with the first and last courses weren't to my taste at all.  The Basil seeds in the champagne drink left a weird slimy sludge at the bottom of the flute that I found rather unattractive, both visually and texturally.  The basil seeds didn't really seem to add any flavor at all, just that odd texture.  This is coming from a girl that hates bubble tea, so maybe it's just me, but I really don't like that "melted gummy bear" snot-in-my-glass thing at all, in any context.  The warmed sake drink had a toothpaste-and-orange-juice effect on me.  Blech.  Chef said it was not as they'd wished it to be, so I presume the original recipe would have been more successful.  I've had these issues myself when working out new cocktails, so I understand how hard it is to get something just perfect and ready for public consumption.  Especially on a large/busy scale like last night.

Happy Anniversary and continued success to the crew at Snackbar.  Thanks to everyone that made our memorable meal last night.

I was lucky to be in town for the Monday night dinner and Katie's post captures a lot of it for me. The only thing I had a problem with was the warmed sake which I found undrinkable. I did not mind the champagne drink, however, and found that it paired well with the the soup.

Highlights were the desserts, without saying, but I also was wild for the gyoza - as a southerner, I found the comfort element in the oxtail quite gratifying. The kobe beef was terrific and the epoisses dish (and wine pairing) were perfection indeed. I did learn from Gabrielle (sp?) from Downtown Cheese who sat next to me that there was a problem with the cheese that was delivered but had I not known that I would not have cared in the least.

Other interesting elements were the fried capers with the skate, the shitake soil and that red/orange concoction that accompanied the skate wing torchon. Can anybody remind me what that was? Do I remember correctly that it had something to do with sturgeon?

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the skate garnish was red pepper-vanilla gelee, tomato compote, fried capers and brown butter cornichon puree. the skate was rolled with fig tapenade.

"the soul contains three elements in dining: to feel, to remember, to imagine." --andoni luiz aduriz

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