best thing i ate last week - tendon and conch at Alter / Contra dinner
The list of NYC restaurants I want to try runs deep, but Contra is one place in particular that is pretty high up on that list. The accessibly priced 6-course, $65 tasting menus put out by young chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske are, by many people's estimation, not just one of the best deals in town, but one of the best meals in town without qualification.
So I was thrilled to hear that one of my favorite local restaurants, Brad Kilgore's Alter, was bringing the Contra guys to Miami to do a collaborative dinner. It all happened last Tuesday, as the chefs alternated rounds for nine courses. It was a great night with some really outstanding food.
Dish of the night? For me, it was this combination of beef tendon and conch in a pool of creamy, nutty sauce, given funky depth by XO sauce and bitter contrast with sprigs of radicchio tardivo. It was a great, unexpected combination of flavors, but even more so was all about the unusual, exciting textures of the components: the gelatinous tendon, the spingy conch, the subtle crunch of the radicchio, the creamy sauce.
Other standouts: the sweet raw shrimp with onions and burnt cream (the burnt cream almost like a savory dulce de leche, with the richness of miso); the chawanmushi with crispy artichoke, venus clams and truffle (maybe a soft egg v.2.0?).
This is, I hope, the first of several collaborative dinners Alter will be hosting; it was an auspicious start.
(You can see all my pictures from the dinner in this Contra @ Alter flickr set).