Bustling crowds, glittering light displays, soul warming comfort foods. No, it's not Christmas in the city just yet but with temperatures hovering around freezing it may as well be. One of my best friends/college roommate was in New York this weekend so we had a very chic, albeit cold, day about the city on Saturday. Since I anticipated quite a bit of walking in our future I gave in and begrudgingly put on the hat/scarf/glove ensemble. I wasn't wrong; between our shopping and eating we covered a significant amount of ground: Bloomie's for some bargains, Maison Kayser (again) for the best French onion soup ever,Laduree to sample some outrageous macaroons, and the gist of our post and my favorite Boulud institution, DBGB. There's something about this place that has captured my heart (and stomach). The full name is DBGB Kitchen and Bar. not restaurant. Not bistro. Not cafe. Kitchen and Bar; a sentiment that echoes from the open kitchen to the dimly light corners of the dining room and is infused into every dish. And what dishes they serve. The food is superb and the combinations are creative and intriguing. Really though, wait until you see what I had for dessert.
I'll confess that I had my dinner order ready days before. I had seen a cavatelli with duck confit and butternut squash dish and cemented that decision within minutes. However, every time I see the Espagnole sausage on the menu, which is always, I always reconsider. It's just so good. But I know it's good so I need to try new things. At least that's what I told myself anyway. The duck was luxuriously tender and the pasta, dare I say, some of the best I've had. Mind you, I haven't been to Italy yet (a horrible Italian, I know) but this pasta was authentic; rustic yet light and most importantly, delicious. Roomie went with the Vermont sausage stuffed with cheddar cheese and had a side of hash brown formed like tortilla espanola. An absolutely perfect meal, she said.
It was a quiet dinner. With food this good you don't spend precious minutes chatting. What got us talking was the sudden ringing of a bell and a high flying hog on gleaming platter. The table next to us had ordered the whole hog dinner, a DBGB specialty. Roomie and I had in fact talked about this particular event upon my making the reservation and what a cool group dinner outing that would be. I never expected to actually see one take place. The general manager swiftly maneuvered over to the table to show them their prize before it was sent back to the kitchen to be served. I tried to get a picture but alas, he moved too quickly. A server unsuccessfully tried to call him back after but I waved his effort aside with a thankful hand.
We moved on to dessert with a couple of unfathomable sundaes. Roomie had a pure chocolate sundae with bourbon and brownie bites. I got a scoop of all three ingredients together and, whoa. Hello, indulgence. I went for the less traditional cranberry cream cheese sundae. Yes, you read that correctly. Cream cheese ice cream with tart cranberry compote, linzer crumble, pillowy orange marshmallows and roasted pumpkin seeds. First of all, cream cheese ice cream? Brilliant. Cranberry and orange are a classic combination but an orange marshmallow? Unheard of. And then some supremely nutty, crunchy pumpkin seeds to tie it all together. This is the sundae jackpot. When our server saw I still had ice cream in my bowl he asked if I didn't like it. I replied, "No, I just wish I had more pumpkin seeds." Next thing you know, more pumpkin seeds show up at the table. Well just spoil me a little more. Oh wait, they did.
As we were scraping the bottom of the sundae bowls the general manager, Mike, swooped down to our table. He wanted to apologize for not stopping to let me take a picture of the hog but would I like to go into the back and take a picture as it was being carved? Um, YES.
I followed Mike back to the carving station and snapped this shot of the little porker.
Back at the table he provided details of how the pig is prepared. The spine is removed, the inside is taken out, ground, mixed with Swiss chard and (I want to say but can't recall, I was too darn ecstatic) mushrooms and re-stuffed. Basically, a giant sausage. Some may call it cruel or ostentatious but DBGB sees it as a way of honoring the animal. They use the whole animal, it's presented beautifully and have a solid relationship with the farm where they pigs are raised. Mike proceeded to tell us more about the whole hog dinner and its options; it would be a great birthday celebration or, as roomie suggested, a bachelor party kick off. It's the kind of meal that would make any night a little more special.
Everything about DBGB is a win. I was very grateful for the opportunity to speak with Mike and learn more about their practices and understand their vision. It gave me an even greater appreciation for everything they do. Food, service, design, and philosophy-I have to agree with them wholeheartedly (and stomachly). Until the next dish, ciao!