And no, I am not saying that to be mean. Let me explain.
Alex had Monday off, and is our wont on his days off/when we haven’t seen each other for a while and he gets out early, we had ourselves a little date night. If you followed my ramblings for pretty much any amount of time, our date nights take 1 of 3 general forms: 1) the late afternoon/early evening activity (like bowling or a walk), followed by light drinks at a bar and dinner; or 2) happy hour with light snack and an early dinner; 3) TV off, me cooking at home while we share something tasty and likely alcoholic. Monday night followed pattern 2.
We chose to return to a spot that we had visited with friends towards the end of last summer, and had thoroughly enjoyed: Sable Kitchen and Bar. Well, who happened to be sitting next to us but Gina and Pat Neely of the Food Network, BBQ fame. I knew she had lost weight, but lord! I recognized him first, and then I heard his voice and was like, yep. I couldn’t see her face, and to be honest, her hair was orangey, weirdly cut and rather awful. And she was smaller than I thought she would be, so I was unsure. But once I caught a glimpse of her face, I was sure. But homegirl needs to get that mane fixed, stat. It was like a grown out version of the Rachel. But styled like it was meant to be that way. Also? They weren’t wearing green. Actually, Alex and I were the only people in the establishment wearing green. It was weird.
But let’s talk about the food, yes? Thanks Jenn!
Sable Kitchen and Bar is a fantastic gem of a bar and restaurant attached to the Hotel Palomar and located in the midst of the State Street shmorgasbord of hotels, residential high rises, and restaurants of all sorts. It was ranked in the top 10 hotel bars in the country by Food and Wine, I believe, and is known as much for its food as its cocktails. The bar program focuses on creative applications of the most old-school of liquors: whiskey and gin. But then Zucca Amaro, cinnamon-pear brandy, cabernet sauvignon, and other house made, other-worldly spirits and liqueurs are layered to create some truly exceptional and mind blowing offerings. If it seems like I am waxing poetic, well, I am. I know a fair amount of cocktailing and flavors, and this blows my mind. It’s like a modern bartender time-traveled back to Prohibition and got crazy.
The food focuses on modern, refined, and sometimes indulgent takes on comfort food. And most can be order half or whole size, so PERFECTION for sharers like Alex and I. Though we didn’t get it this time, the chicken and waffles dish uses mini waffles. ADORABLE. The lamb sliders are fantastical, I have heard rave reviews of the veggie burgers and the truffle burger, and the mac and cheese Alex got last time was pretty baller. It is nearly impossible to choose what to get, and between the food offerings and the mind-boggling bevs, it’s easy to feel a little bit lost at first. And then your waitress is the most helpful person ever and life is good.
After much consultation with each other and the server (though we knew to order the cheese curds straightaway), we came to the following feast:
Drinks: (from left)
Red Ryder B.B (from Josh Relkin) Tullamore Dew, Dark Cacao, Spiced Rum, Cream, Menthe, Chocolate Bitters
The Red Ryder was indeed like a very haute White Russian with regards to the flavor profile. The main differences, and what makes this cocktail truly its own: the depth and flavor of cacao (rather than cocoa–kept it from being sweet), lightness from the menthe (though it wasn’t incredibly noticeable outright, you got the refreshment) and the finish of whiskey.
Fences End (John Stanton) Bulleit Rye, Zucca Amaro, Raspberry, Cucumber, Lime
My drink, the Fences End, was actually quite stellar–very dangerous because it was so good!–not sweet (I was worried about the raspberry component), not bitter, and not grassy. It actually reminded me of a spiked apple cider of sorts. And the cucumber was just a hint and imparted a freshness. The lime wasn’t overly discernible, but I feel acted in the same way as the menthe in the Red Ryder. I would absolutely get this again.
Reflections in the Window (Michael Arlesic) Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, Port, Cinnamon, Whole Egg
The last cocktail, Reflections in the Window, was mostly gotten because Alex absolutely could not fathom what would happen if an egg was added to a drink. It resulted in a drink that was of a similar family to the Red Ryder, but because the body of the drink came from the egg and not cream, the texture was a bit smoother overall. The port I feel gave it a roundness and slight sweetness (to balance out the bourbon), and the cinnamon was a definite flavor note. I had the least of this one (I preferred my own), but quite good as well.
Food Stuffs: (CW from Top Left)
Half, Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds Spicy Ketchup Glaze (ermigerd so good)
Ps: Do you not die for the fact that the curds come out in a mini frying basket??
Sable’s cheese curds are definitely up there among the best in the city, in my opinion. Farmhouse’s curds still have my heart, but these were better than FH’s from Saturday, I must admit. In both cases, it is all about those curds, and the cheese is just spot on. The Sable curds are also smaller than the FH ones, so that might effect the product. I don’t care, I don’t even really like many cheese and I think that they are pretty bomb. And I absolutely adore their spicy ketchup glaze. We kept that (after we polished off the curds) for dippage for later on.
Brussels Sprouts and Farm Apple Salad Pork Belly Croutons (I cannot lie), Pecorino Romano, Smoked Almonds, Brown Butter Vinaigrette (We got on side, and I am honestly glad–it was fabulous but very, very buttery)
The sprouts salad was actually quite a great addition to our meal! Alex repeatedly stole more than his fair share, and though I gave him the majority of the pork belly croutons (wait for it), he was so full he didn’t finish his. So I did. What is a pork belly crouton, you ask? A piece of pork belly, cut to typical salad crouton size, battered in awesome (but not too much) and fried. Think of what would happen if you were at the Melting Pot. But awesomer. The salad was basically a nice conflagration of light, hearty, and rich. So you know I was a fan 😀
Tuna Tartar Tostadas Spicy Tomato Salsa, Meyer Lemon Crema
The tuna tostadas–the salsa, paired with creaminess of the crema and the slight citrus of the meyer lemon within it and the spritz of lime (accompanying it), the three top components create that optimal fat-acid balance. Most importantly (for my preferences), the crema is used appropriately sparingly, and compliments but doesn’t drown. And who doesn’t love a good, crispy, mini tortilla? LOVE.
Duck Confit Flatbread Butternut Squash, Port Wine Cherries, Smoked Blue Cheese
Their flatbread crust is truly among my favorites, perhaps anywhere. The most crackery thin but just pliant enough–it still acts like a pizza, not a piece of matzo. This one actually wasn’t my favorite. This is by NO MEANS to say it wasn’t delicious, because it really was. I simply wasn’t in the mood for those types of flavors–I was after something a bit lighter and spicier/more acidic (plus those profiles played better with my cocktail), and this was all about winter comfort. I totally stole crust and cherries, though 😀 And the pizza paired with with Alex’s cocktails, which had much more body, warmth, and cinnamon/cocao notes.
Obviously, Alex and I are fans. It was definitely a treat meal (we spent a bit more than we had planned…. whoopsies) but the experience and the overall meal and time together make it worth it.
But now, we gotta lock it up.
Would you get a drink with a whole egg or egg white (not cooked out) in it (and other than egg nog)?
Have you ever been to a bar with such a comprehensive beverage program?
Are you a celeb gawker? Or does it not even register? I wasn’t starstruck or anything, but I am such an overly observant person that not much escapes me 😀