As is ritual now, my morning break consists of me on my phone scrolling through facebook and twitter updates. And Wednesday was more of the same, scanning through the posts, glossing over tweets when I just happened to see one that Professor Fussy posted about an open seat for the first dinner. I figured I would give it a shot and posted a comment. Didn’t really think much would come from it, so I dove back into work. Two o’clock rolled around and hello! An email informing me that I won. And not just an email, but also a message waiting for me on facebook to get to it and confirm my spot.
If you have never been to All Good Bakers before, here’s the heads up – it is small. The maximum number of diners for each seating is ten, which is a good thing because more would be too much. Mostly two seaters, with the one lone four top. It is this table I ended up sitting at with Otis from Burnt My Fingers, and a newly transplanted couple from Colorado. Actually, at the end of the dinner we had all agreed that communal seating would probably be the way to go for these dinners.
AGB had invited DJ Stacey and Jon Audietis, the farmers which supplied the produced used in the meals. I thought there would be a discussion or Q&A thing with them, but that never happened. Maybe something for the future… maybe just keep this an informal thing. Anyways, Farmer Jon looked very familiar to me… I think I may have gone out with friends for sushi and he was there. Who knows.
While waiting for the dinner to start, we nibbled on focaccia topped with thinly sliced onions and herbs. Each table had little cups of melted butter that Britin makes in house weekly. Very tasty, and I stopped myself from third helpings or I would have no space for the rest of the meal.
Before each course, Britin briefly explained what the dish was and where the ingredients came from. Their goal with these dinners is to use mostly (if not all) ingredients from local farmers and producers.
Course #1: Asparagus Spring Onion Soup topped with Sage Crème Fraiche. It looked like the crème fraiche melted into the soup, which was going to happen anyways and didn’t take away from it. I’m really not a fan of creamy soups, but this was good. This would probably be even better if it were thicker… chowder-like.
Course #2: Green Garlic Buttermilk Johnnycakes with Warm Siracha Butter and Spicy Greens and Beet Salad topped with Smoked Duck Breast. Oh the Johnnycakes. It was the one thing on the menu I was most leery of, mostly because I was expecting it to be dry and tasteless (this is based from what I’ve heard of johnnycakes and my past experiences with corn bread things). This was nothing like that. I wish they had given more than one… how else was I supposed to sop up all that siracha butter? Salad was good, although difficult to eat.
Course #3: Applewood Smoked Trout with Thyme, Slow Braised Grass Fed Short Ribs, Quick Pickled Ginger Baby Carrots, Radish Puree. Up to this point, the dinner was going well. Great even. No real delays between courses… you wouldn’t even know that this was their first dinner service.
But it had to happen, right? And it wasn’t too big of a deal. The applewood smokiness wafted into the dining area as the dishes were brought out to the tables. I always expect trout to have this fatty, fishy taste to it, but this did not. Flesh was tender and moist. Some bones, but hey… it’s a fish. The pickled carrots went great with the fish, and the radish puree was adequate. The short rib was the lone disappointment of the night. Tough. According to Otis, they just weren’t cooked long enough. So I took it home, threw it in a pot with just a hit of liquid and allowed it to braise for about an hour. After the second cooking… wonderful.
Course #4: Strawberry Rhubarb Tart, Lemon Curd Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. While the short rib was their only flub of the night, their dessert more than made up for it. Even with these dinners, they are first and foremost a bakery. The crust was nice and flaky, and filled with perfectly sized pieces of sweet strawberries. I didn’t really taste the rhubarb but I am sure it was delicious all the same. The ice cream they topped it with? Can I get a pint of this to go? Or maybe two? I made sure to slather some ice cream on each bite. Chew and savor… which explains why I was the last one at my table to finish it.
A great start to this dinner series. If you happen to have a Wednesday evening available, I strongly suggest you check this out!