Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Breslin...decadence refined...


Why would they put me here?

I mean...right here?

So close to the kitchen...and more close to the table reserved for large groups being served a whole roasted pig.

Did they really think I would be able to maintain my composure? With the smells of crackling pork wafting in my direction? With a man, mere feet away, yanking off the ear to snack on? With a menu that seems designed specifically with me in mind.

The Breslin has just lept into the pantheon of greats for me. Built around some of the most decadent dishes imaginable, The Breslin feels more like The Spotted Pig's big brother than the baby in the family. The spacious bar was already crowded when we arrived a bit before six on a Wednesday. Luckily, we beat most of the dinner crowd. We sat right next to the large table overlooking the kitchen. The table that has a limited menu. Whole pig and sides. Apparently, the pig's name was Owen, according to our server. Well, Owen...I am sorry we did not get to meet tonight...but soon I shall return.

The dining room is bigger than the Pig's, but you can see the family resemblance. Half the staff wore the Spotted Pig's iconic t-shirts. The decor was also eclectic and comfortable, though a bit cramped. On my next trip I would request one of the private booths with curtains and a dimmer to let you control the light. Or a table upstairs, which I hear is a bit less cramped...

Or THAT table...

The big one with the pig on it.

But I digress, back to the meal I actually had. The menu has a section labeled "Snacks", I suggest you start there. There was a nice selection of slightly obscure dishes to choose from, fom scotch egg to scrumpets. I think I could make a great meal just from this under$10 section of the menu.

We started with Fanny Bay oysters and dill pickle juice. Fanny Bays are my favorite and as good as the pickle juice was, I like my oysters straight not a dish I would do again, but it was delicious.

Then we moved into my territory. Fried headcheese and scrumpets with mint vinegar. The headcheese was just what I was looking for when we picked The Breslin. The wonderful feeling of gelatin coating your mouth, the inherant pork flavor all surrounded by crispy, fried goodness. To quote the Hawaiian Punch guy, "Oh Yeah!"

The scrumpets were a first to me. Our server descibed them as looking like mozzarella sticks, but filled with braised lamb. Perfect. The lamb flavor was prevalent and the texture was great. It came with red wine vinegar loaded with fresh mint. Why do they serve that nasty mint jelly with lamb, the don't know that they should do it this way, I guess

Are we seeing a trend yet? Delicious, decadent food...fried? So what could be next?

Let's take a pig trotter, a whole foreshank really, and braise it. Then let's pull out all the meat and grind it with some braised shoulder. Then, let's stuff it back into to the skin and...deep fry it.

No, really.

First of all, this thing was huge, at least 12 inches. The outermost layer was crispy breadcumbs, followed by skin and a lyer of fat. Inside, the most delicate, most refined Scrapple on the planet. That is the only way to describe it. The dish was served with vinegary brussles sprouts and sweet braised shallots. We added on roasted fennel and thrice-cooked chips.

The service was charming and informed. David, our server, was helpful with suggestions and had a lot of fun with us.Several people came by for different reasons, and all seemed to be honestly excited to be serving this food. I personally can't wait to go back. I suggest you bring a larger group and sample as many dishes as possible. The one draw back of the pig's foot was that it was so much of the same thing. Bring some friends and try some things. I am looking foward to the charcuterie plate and scotch egg next time around.

Unless, of course, that next time is my inevitable visit to THAT table...the one with the pig on it...the one calling out to me....


Katherine C said...

I hear you - LOVE the whole roast pig. We had friends bring one up from Chinatown to our wedding upstate 3 years ago. First thing to disappear off the buffet.

Anonymous said...

Great recommendation! But not for the healthy conscious or anyone on diet. The flavors were insane but that's what fat and frying does for you.