June 9, 2010
Birthday Dinner at Table Fifty-Two
My birthday was a few weeks ago and all I wished for was food. I must be the luckiest girl alive because food's what I got. Tons of it. And I have the spare tire to prove it (I actually just signed an endorsement deal with Michelin). My birthday binge consisted of food from Angelina Ristorante, Molly's Cupcakes, Table Fifty-Two, Japonais, and English. Who's the lucky fat kid!? For this post however, I will concentrate on only one... because it was a first time experience for my buds, it made my birthday incredibly memorable, and the food was divine. Thank you Art Smith for feeding me one of the greatest meals of my life, transforming an ordinary May 18th into The Birthday I Ate Art Smith's Pickle... Fried pickles---ever had 'em? They're like crack. Delicious, delicious crack. The entire meal left me yearning for more.
Prior to dinner, my day was not the greatest. I spent it planning and organizing someone else's birthday party, ironically enough. Gotta get the job done! It was fine although I was a tid bit exhausted and a zinger was growing in my temples from becoming famished in anticipation of the feast in my near-future. I arrived at Table Fifty-Two and at this point in time I needed food! For the sake of my headache AND my poor dad and sister who merely escaped being in the presence of a starving monster (a hungry Kara is a rather unpleasant Kara, some might say). As we were seated, Art Smith personally greeted us and delivered deviled eggs (he looks fabulous by the way and was lovely to talk to). My day had already improved. Then, out came the goat cheese herbed biscuits from the oven... Into my mouth they soared, gliding atop my buds and into my ever so gracious tummy. From that moment forward a smile never left my face. Cupid had pierced my heart with Art Smith's arrow...
Our love would only grow when the real food, the food we actually ordered, arrived. We ordered a bunch of appetizers and sides so that we could try as much as possible. If I portray the food to be just one-fifth as good as it tasted, get ready for your culinary boner. You should see what happens in real life... I'm not kidding, not even David Blaine could lift tables that far off the ground.
Yukon Gold Potato Risotto--bacon tuille, egg yolk, chives and shaved gouda.
I LOVED this potato risotto. Each mouthful of the soft, creamy potatoes and the rich silky yolk, enhanced further by what other than crisp bacon, just warmed my soul. This is a mouth-happy dish.
Low-Country Shrimp and Grits--wild gulf shrimp, stone-ground white corn grits and spicy tomato stew. This
shrimp and grits is now the standard for all shrimp and grits in my future. Art Smith knows his grits! I love the course grind--not often do grits have such great texture. The shrimp were plump and delicious. It was just perfect. Definite contender for my favorite dish of the night.
Farm to Crust Wood-Fired Pizza--seasonal veggies, manchego, and balsamic reduction.
I'm not going to lie, this was certainly delicious but when it came out of the kitchen at the same time as the shrimp and grits it didn't stand a chance with me. Good pizzas/flatbreads are not terribly hard to find in Chicago, while amazing shrimp and grits are. Thus, I ever so generously allowed my sister to have her way with this one... I'm such a good sharer!
Holy cheese-gasm! I have never seen such a gigantic, bud-tantalizing mound of oozy, golden cheese. Cheese was overflowing, clinging to the outside of the bowl for dear life--similar to the appearance of french onion soup. But underneath was pasta-cheese heaven. This dish could fatten up an entire country. So you know it's good...
Cornbread, with Bacon, and Brown Butter Maple Glaze.
This, along with the shrimp and grits, was my absolute favorite. I could eat it for breakfast, as a side, or for dessert. It literally satisfies every craving. Art Smith, I had already fallen in love with you, but this cornbread will make me stay in love with you. Knowing that it is only a few blocks away brings me peace on a daily basis. One of the most special foods I have ever tasted.
Fried Pickles with Roasted Garlic Aioli.
I had heard of fried pickles but never tried them... Until now. And damn they're good! I like pickles, and I obviously love all things fried, so these were definitely going to be delicious... However, I did not know how delicious. As your teeth break through the crunchy, battered exterior, the tangy juice fills your mouth. Let me tell you, that tang is addictive! I could eat them all day. My neck itches...
Moral of the Story? As my sister said so well as we parted ways with Table Fifty-Two: No wonder Oprah's fat!