A Texas New Year

Last year I made a vow to myself – never spend another New Year’s in Omaha. While I’m not among the “Omaha is the worst” crowd I just couldn’t handle it anymore. NYE is the one holiday I actually celebrate. Whether it’s the starting fresh and making improvements aspect or just the drinking, New Year’s is on the top of my Top Five.

So when a friend absent-mindedly asked if I’d like to go to Houston I said yes before even thinking about the logistics. I knew I had the whole week off from work so that was all that really mattered. After a bit of time and a few group chats the plans were finalized. We’d leave on a Tuesday night, staying in Dallas for one day then driving the few hours to Houston on New Year’s Eve. With two bags packed and flask in hand I was ready to eat all the things I’d missed the last time I was in Texas.

True to form, my hunger couldn’t be contained and Whataburger happened before I even crossed Texas state lines. I don’t care what you say – I will always be here for a honey butter chicken biscuit or spicy ketchup on fries (I hate ketchup). The only In-N-Outs we acknowledge are located in California.

 

 
I’m so dedicated I dragged everyone to an H-E-B to buy spicy ketchup and honey butter to take home.

 

Our time in Dallas was short so we ended up only having dinner and breakfast. The trip’s organizer had only one food request: that we stop at The Boiling Crab that night. So after the almost mandatory two-hour wait I sat down looking to be impressed.

The atmosphere is very casual at BC. Large tables covered in paper, no real plates or silverware and everyone gets a plastic bib for protection. They were out of blue crab by the time we were seated (shakes fists) so I went with a pound of shrimp: medium, the whole she-bang (rajun cajun, lemon pepper and garlic spread) with half a pound of sausage and cajun fries. Unless you order one of the fried meals your food comes out to you in a giant plastic bag (again no frills).

 

The shrimps were huge and whole so not for the squeamish types who don’t like the heads on things. Was a little disappointed that the seasoning wasn’t spicy – they must reserve the really good spice for their fries which were great. The meal was still really tasty and fun to eat.

 

Before heading to Houston we stopped at The Original Pancake House a much nicer version of iHop, Village Inn, etc. After a little bit of a wait we sat down and ordered, having already read through the menu in the front. I got a bacon waffle, homemade sausage patty, scrambled eggs with cheese and some of my friend’s hashbrowns.

 

The worst dish had to be the eggs which were a little rubbery. I really enjoyed the spice in the sausage and the hashbrowns were the perfect mix of crispy and soft. The bacon waffle was also a treat. The bacon pieces were good-sized and still crispy, giving the whole thing a sort of chewy texture. It came off a little salty so I would ease up on the butter. Worth a try for anyone liking new twists on old favorites.

We headed to Houston and after a night of NYE shenanigans woke up hungry. While waiting for a missing party and the car my friend and I had brunch at the hotel bar. Despite the mimosas being $12 dollars (the bartender did make the second one STRONG, probably because she knew we didn’t know how much they were) they had a pineapple juice option so I was sated. I went with the chicken and waffle sliders which were good-sized. The chicken itself was really tasty and the coleslaw that came on it had a honey dressing which helped tie the dish together. Because the waffles were slider sized they ended up being just a bit dry but not to bad when you dipped it in syrup.

 

Next we went to Boudreaux’s Cajun Kitchen and yes I ordered food within 30 minutes of eating brunch because I’m a food monster. It was happy hour so I got a Cajun Twist for $6 which is a mix of their hurricane and ragin rita’. This drink was big and strong and frozen happiness in a glass.

 

I also ordered their boudin balls which came with fries and a honey creole remoulade. I am in love with boudin so I jump on any chance I get to eat some. Again, Boudreaux’s didn’t skimp on size with this perfectly cooked appetizer. I wasn’t a huge fan of the remoulade, the honey just made it a bit too sweet for this savory item.

 

Later that night (well technically the next morning) we made a stop at Dreams so I had to get an order of wings and fries. Traditional thinking would have you believe you shouldn’t order food at a strip club. Well they are wrong. They don’t want you to get some of the best wings you’ll ever eat. Dreams wings are major 🔑🔑🔑.

 

On our last full day in Houston my friend and I met her dean for lunch. We drove to City Centre to try out Yardhouse. Their patio was heated and covered so we were seated there with little protest, despite it being a chilly, rainy mess outside. We split an order of duck fat potatoes which I was expecting to lean more towards fries. The dish was mainly chips with a few chunks of fried potato. The caramelized onion bacon dip was a good complement although the bacon was a bit sparse.

 

To drink I got a sparkling blood orange with ketel one orange vodka, monin blood orange, orange juice, orange bitters and zardetto prosecco. Basically a mimosa on steroids it surprisingly didn’t taste overwhelmingly orange-y.

 

I went big as it was my last big meal in Texas, choosing the surf & turf burger. Lobster, grilled asparagus, arugula, tomato bearnaise and a substitution of swiss for their house truffle cheese all atop a medium well burger. After a smear of garlic aioli I requested on the side this treat was ready for consumption. It felt so over the top because it was so rich – I’m sure my cholesterol is still paying for this day.

 

In theory the addition of the asparagus is a sound choice but the grilled execution just didn’t cut it. It was hard to take a bite and just get a little asparagus – the whole spear had to come along. The fries were thin and crispy, just how fries should be. Possibly the best fries I’ve ever had and the chipotle mayo I ordered on the side gave them a nice kick.

 

 

After four days it was time to head back to Nebraska, but you an’t leave anywhere that has a Waffle House and not get Waffle House. Although this location didn’t check off all of my “this will be the best WH food” boxes (really it just needs to look suspect or have cooks who look like they probably might could kill you) the food got the job done. Waffle House is simple and offers you good food for so cheap you just wonder how it works. There’s a pseudo campaign to bring one to Omaha and Dear Lawd I hope it happens so I can get grits I didn’t have to make myself and smothered & covered hashbrowns.

 

While there were a few spots on my list that I didn’t get to make (mainly Frenchy’s, Torchy’s, Velvet Taco and Shipley’s) I will definitely be back. Some of those checks will be marked later this month when I go to Dallas for more than a day, but I’m leaving the rest to add to the many reasons I will be back to Houston asap.

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Mantra: a review

If you’ve ever driven down Maple, past 72nd towards Historic Benson — you’ve seen Mantra Bar & Grille (6913 Maple Street). A small space that ordinarily would get overlooked, its neon trees catch your eyes no matter how focused on the road you are. With its modge-podge parking spots (pro-tip: always aim for the garage doors facing Maple first), intimate patio area and open bar next to the interior dining space Mantra nails the hole-in-the-wall  vibe without crossing over into divey.

 

Larger parties get the privilege of being the center piece in Mantra, flanked by smaller groups along the back wall and patio entryway. Food comes out quickly for the most part and Mantra has a good selection of cocktails, wines, beers and other libations to take your mind off of how hungry you may be. Their bottomless mimosa special is standard fare (pro tip two: ask them  to add pineapple) jazzed up by the promo “penny a piece mimosas after purchase of two”.

 

My first Mantra visit was for a birthday dinner. As we waited for everyone in the party to arrive the bartender let us order a drink while we waited. I started with a peach julep because it was one of the few bourbon based specialty cocktails. Ended up being just a little too sweet for me.

 

Someone at the table ordered spinach artichoke dip to share. Creamy deliciousness in a good sized ramekin that wasn’t overpowered by any one ingredient. It came with both pita crackers and crusty french bread. The french bread was definitely the better choice for this appetizer.

 

I decided on the seafood enchiladas, which I knew could be risky. The scallops were definitely fresh and the cumin cream sauce would be good on quite a few things. The filling did come across very bland, the strongest flavors came from the cream sauce and beans (which weren’t choke full of it either).

 


I also tried the black and blue Manhattan that night. A much stronger drink choice than the julep, the blackberry jam didn’t make the Manhattan too syrupy sweet.

 


My next visit to Mantra was for brunch. We started with the obligatory mimosa which had a good ratio of booze to juice.

 


Although I’m not a huge crepe fan I tried their special that day — a crepe with chorizo and jalapeno hollandaise. The crepe was fabulously done and there was enough filling to give it real substance. The hollandiase wasn’t too spicy and the side of potatoes were just crispy enough. The English muffins were the best I’ve had at a restaurant in a while.

 


If you find yourself driving down Maple and have a few hours to spend Mantra is definitely worth a visit. While their menu isn’t huge, they take the time to get many things right. And who doesn’t want to eat dinner by neon tree light.

 

 

Hello holidays: Spicy cranberry meatballs

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Yet another work potluck, Ugly Christmas Sweater Party or shin-dig that you need to make something for. If you’re anything like me you either prepare something fancy because of proper planning or…. you forget all about the party until the day before. These meatballs are perfect for the last scenario. Only seven ingredients, all of which you could buy, and thirty minutes until you’re the owner of everyone’s favorite appetizer at the party. Read on to see how these meatballs come together.

  
To start, combine the chili sauce, brown sugar, cranberry sauce, chili powder, cumin and cayenne together in a pot. Bring to a low boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved and most of the jellied cranberry is reconstituted.

  

 
Next, and this is the most important part, add the meatballs. Let them cook and get covered with the chili cranberry sauce for about 20 minutes and YOU’RE DONE. Yes you read right, these babies are now ready to be enjoyed.

  

   
You can make these ahead of time and transfer to the party in a microwavable bowl. Just warm them up when you arrive. Or you can make the sauce then throw it in a crockpot the day of. Simmer them there until everyone’s ready to eat.

  

 
If you are just a bit more prepared than I usually am you can even make homemade jellied cranberry sauce (worth the effort, just make in a bowl instead of a mold) and/or make homemade meatballs. Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, milk, ginger, salt, garlic, onion and pepper then form little balls. Bake in a 400 degree oven then add to your sauce.


Ingredients:
14 ounces jellied cranberry sauce
12 ounces chili sauce
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Meatballs:
1 32 ounce package frozen meatballs

or

2 pounds ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup dry minced onion
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of milk
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • Step 1
    If making the meatballs from scratch. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the meatball ingredients and roll into small balls and place on lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or cooked through. Set aside.
  • Step 2
    Combine first six ingredients in large pot and bring to a low boil. Stir occasionally until sugar is melted and cranberry sauce reconstitutes.
  • Step 3
    Place meatballs into pot and stir sparingly. Letting cook through for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Step 4
    Transfer to serving dish; if making ahead place into microwave-safe bowl or crockpot. Enjoy.

Home is where the heart is…

and NOLA has stolen mine.

My mother’s side of the family is from Louisiana. Both my late grandmother, aunt, uncle and NaNa are natives; my mother lived there for a brief period during her youth. You could say without New Orleans, there’d be no Ashley Raelene.

So when my friend decided to visit the Creole State I knew I had to go too. Despite some set-backs immediately preceding this trip (story of my life) I was determined not to miss this opportunity. So as my friend celebrated her actual date of birth, I got on a plane to start my NOLA weekend early, visiting my aunt until everyone arrived the following day.

To be in a place that seemed so familiar, although I couldn’t actually remember ever being there, is an experience only those having been “raised” Southern in another region will likely experience. As soon as I stepped off the plane a feeling of comfort washed over me, as if I’d been missing this place all along. Listening to my aunt, driving to her house and mentally noting the changes she made after Katrina left me swimming in a sea of feelings. Not all bad feelings, but some of displacement– of knowing I’d never see New Orleans completely as she’d been before.

The remainder of my trip could be summed up in three categories: the people, the food and the buildings.

The People

Having lived in Nebraska for a number of years I’m familiar with “Nebraska nice”. The notion that Midwesterners are inherently nice and easy-going, quick to offer a hand or just a friendly hello. Recently I’ve heard NE Nice more accurately described as “Nebraska Nice … to your face”. An endless circle jerk of people wanting to appear warm and welcoming despite their conservative leanings towards judging your whole life.. and telling their friends about it later.

New Orleans’ brand of nice, however, is authentically more genuine. Even honking at a pedestrian wrongly crossing Canal Street takes on an air of politeness here not seen above the Mason-Dixie. It’s hard to think of an interaction during my trip that didn’t leave me a little bit happier (save my phone getting stolen, which gave way for a chivalrous search by someone else). Unlike many who fall in love with a place they visit, only to worry about not knowing anyone if they move there, New Orleans is a place that would welcome you with open arms, even before you’ve signed a lease.

The Food

Honestly, I shouldn’t even have to write this part. People travel from far and wide to enjoy the creative creole and Cajun cuisine Louisiana has to offer. From the stuffed shrimp I had at Dooky Chase‘s to the shrimp and crawfish mac and cheese I stood 30 minutes for at the Treme Gumbo Fest, I left New Orleans ruing not being able to eat like I did over the weekend, every day. Even the selection at the Riverwalk Outlet mall was amazing, with Mike Anderson’s Seafood offering the best fried okra I’ve had since my grandmother’s.

As I get older, the more I recognize foods multifaceted-ness. It connects us not only to our family and pasts, like the okra did for me, but also to new cultures and friends. The food is so much a part of many people’s experiences that NOLA could never be separated from its culinary offerings. And as this space becomes more and more attractive for millennials marked with scarlet letters of F (for foodie) NOLA has done an outstanding job preserving its food traditions while incorporating cuisines from its many “immigrant” populations.

The Buildings

Take one step into The French Quarter, Bourbon Street or The Garden District and you immediately know where you are. Every architectural style can be found within a few minutes of each other from creole cottages to the signature french balconies to the skyscrapers in the CBD. Doing a more “adventurous” part of our trip we trekked on foot through the Garden District from Magazine Street to St Charles. As time passed I found it increasingly difficult to find a condo, house or apartment I wouldn’t be able to see myself living in (though my penchant for going pant-less immediately upon arrival home may conflict with many of the floor to ceiling front windows).

Though I’m not planning to cut my time in Omaha short, no matter how much I reminisce on this trip, I do think NOLA has a much larger part of my heart than Colorado does. When the timing is right, we’ll see if my heart wins out (and a head hunter comes and offers me $$$$$ to work somewhere it doesn’t snow in November). Until then– there’s plenty of festivals and food to come back for.

 

*sorry this post lacks the many amazing pictures I took during the trip. Again my phone got stolen and only a couple were backed up on my iCloud. Dooky Chase’s stuffed shrimp were one of them 🙂

 

My Hatchery Box: Caramelized Onion & Havarti Patty Melts

Recently, I decided to sign up for a Hatchery Box subscription. Each month, different artisanal small-batch ingredients and condiment samples are mailed to your door along with a mini version of their Guide, introducing you to the Makers of each sample and different recipes you can make with each. When my first one arrived I was excited to use some of the items for blog posts (like this one). I knew my first project would involve the Ommegang Abbey Ale Beer Jelly , because c’mon, beer jelly sounds so interesting and fun.

  
  

As I had no real idea what to make with the beer jelly I decided to default to the one selected by Hatchery — Caramelized Onion & Dill Havarti Patty Melts. I had most of the ingredients already and a quick trip to Trader Joe’s got me the rest.

To start, I chopped/sliced (I’m not great at pure slicing) some onions and threw them in a pan with butter over medium heat. Let them soften up and toss till there a nice golden color. Salt and pepper it and set aside.

  
I seasoned my ground beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder then formed them into three nice sized patties. These go into a separate pan over medium high heat until brown on both sides and cooked thorough. Add the havarti (they were out of the dill variety) at the last-minute so it has a chance to melt.

   
 
I decided to make a few minor tweaks; the first being the cheese and the second to the bread as I’m not a huge fan of rye. The sliced white we had at home went into the toaster until brown and I begin assembling my patty melt. A smear of the beer jelly, a havarti covered patty and the caramelized onions yielded the best patty melt I’ve had in a while.

   
 
The jelly added a nice sweetness to the whole thing while not being overpowering. The melty havarti offset the onion and each bite had a bit of cheese. I was expecting the jelly to not be sweet at all but I’m glad the beer-ness didn’t steal the show. I can’t wait to make more things to share with you guys with my Hatchery boxes to come.

  


Ingredients (modified from Hatchery):
2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste
6 slices rye bread (or white or any bread you prefer)
1/2 lb dill havarti cheese (or pre-sliced havarti)
1 lb ground beef
1 oz. Beekman 1802 Ommegang Abbey Ale Beer Jelly

  • Step 1
    Over medium heat, add 2 tbsp. butter to a medium skillet. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften (about 5-7 minutes). Toss and let cook another 5 minutes. Do this repeatedly until onions are soft, about 30 minutes, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  • Step 2
    Season the beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder then divide into three patties that are about the same size as the bread. Cook over medium-high heat until brown and cooked through. Remove and set aside.
  • Step 3
    Toast bread in toaster until golden.
  • Step 4
    Assemble the sandwiches: on one side, add Beekman Beer Jelly, cheese covered patty and onions. Top with second piece of toasted bread. Enjoy immediately.

The secret’s out: Omaha Supper Club

Things are changing for the Omaha culinary scene, and they have been for a few years. “Foodies” or people who just like to eat no longer have to long for many of the things only accessible by television or a trip in 2015. Food trucks, farm to table, you name it and Omaha has it.

While aspects of a secret dining scene, supper clubs or “pop-ups” have emerged in certain pockets, never has one aimed to be accessible to young minorities in Omaha like Omaha Supper Club (OSC). Part pop-up (venues change for each supper) and not entirely secret (details can be found on Facebook and easily by word-of-mouth) Omaha Supper Club brings a take on dining that’s commonplace in many bigger cities. While still a newcomer to Omaha’s culinary climate, the two dinners have made an impact on all that have attended.

Shalauna Wilkins, a repeat Supper Cluber, believes in the sustainability of OSC due to its uniqueness.

“It’s a classy event. Each time you come it’s a different chef that’s featured … The chefs can show their talents, eventually even getting examples from the guests about things they want to see in the future like an Iron Chef theme. It’s different for up and coming chefs to be able to present their craft.”

I was excited to experience OSC for the first time having followed the movement in other cities for quite some time. The energy was palpable as this supper would be showcasing the creator of the organization,  Chef Alexander. He’s built up a following in Omaha offering southern favorites such as shrimp and grits and banana pudding. Surely he would pull out all the stops for this occasion.

The Venue

Love’s Jazz & Arts Center is a nice venue for music and relaxing. The expansion of the bar in the front has only enhanced the attractiveness of LJAC for events. It was nicely divided between a cocktail hour and the dining space. The one caveat is there isn’t much room for prep in the back. This made the time between dishes being prepared, plated and served a little longer than most guests would have liked. The social media user in me also hates the lighting in Love’s, no great selfies or Snapchats if that’s your thing.

The Atmosphere

OSC is meant to be an experience. While me and my friend were easily the youngest two in attendance, I  didn’t feel out-of-place. The music was in turn current (The Internet) and classic (DeAngelo) while plenty of room was left for mingling. You could tell many in the room were on dates and for the most part, people dressed accordingly. The excitement was palpable as everyone waited for the main event. For everyone in Omaha that complains they’re tired of the bars or have nothing to do, OSC may be the answer– especially for the young professional crowd. The night ended with a comedy performance which was nice. Had the entertainment been during the cocktail hour I probably would have focused more instead of facing a potential food coma.

The Food

Starters
Meatball etouffee & mini stuffed peppers

I enjoyed both of Chef Alexander’s starters although calling it “etouffee” may have been a bit of a stretch. The gravy was nice and flavorful with bell pepper present but didn’t have the kick I’m accustomed to from an etouffee. Would have liked to see the meatballs incorporating rice as well, a riff on etouffee and the traditional boudin ball starter. The spinach dip inside the pepper was delicious and I’m so happy it wasn’t the cold version many use in peppers.

Salad
Spring greens with roasted apples, chevre, walnuts & balsamic vinaigrette

Objectively, this salad was great. I love chevre (goat cheese if you are like many who were in attendance who’d never had it) and balsamic vinaigrette together and the roasted apples were a good seasonal touch. Keeping that in mind I was a bit disappointed in this offering as it was very “safe” and I don’t think “cajun” or “creole” when given a spring green salad with goat cheese and balsamic.

Entree
Seafood grits — shrimp, scallop, crawfish and andouille over southern grits with cajun cream sauce, collard greens & stewed tomatoes | Josh Chardonnay wine pair

On its face the seafood grits were a dream. Each shrimp was plump and the sausage and crawfish lent the dish a nice depth. The cream sauce melded everything together and the collards had the spice the dish needed. I don’t really eat collards unless they’re from my grandmother or NaNa’s kitchen, but their addition took these grits to the level they needed. Unfortunately my grits were cold when they arrived, I attribute this to the time it takes to plate in a tiny space in a short span of time. The scallop was nice and buttery (coming from someone who doesn’t even care for scallops this was hard to come to terms with). The chardonnay was a good pair but also reminded me how I wish the seafood grits were spicier. But we live in Nebraska where some can’t handle too much.

I’m probably in the minority, however, I was looking forward to having something other than shrimp and grits (albeit one on steroids) from this dinner. We’ve seen what he can do with this dish, it would have been nice to see him flex his muscles a bit with a totally different entree.

Dessert
Hennessy Bananas Foster over cream cake & vanilla bean ice cream

Desert was a real treat with a flambe demonstration for the crowd.


The butter cake oddly enough reminded me of cornbread. A little on the dry side but a good portion so you don’t feel guilty about having too much. Each component was plated semi-separately, wonder if the melted ice cream from the sauce over the cake would have changed my perception of the cake. I’ll get crucified for this but I didn’t love the substitution of Henn for rum. Never considered myself a BF purist but something was missing for me here. Maybe I’ll ask for two fingers of Hennessy on the side next time.

Omaha Supper Club deserves the support it needs to grow and improve. With any new venture there are problems that, with time, will resolve themselves. The amount of aspiring chefs in Omaha alone who could benefit from the exposure here makes it worth the price of the ticket. As more and more young professionals, older professionals, folks who love food and people just willing to try something once look for more than most sit down or fast food restaurants can offer, the space OSC is currently pioneering will widen. Experience it before the space gets too crowded.

Omaha Supper Club occurs monthly.
Friend Omaha Supper Club on Facebook to stay in the loop.

Chef Alexander couldn’t be reached for comment.

Omaha Food This Week: 10.18.15

Welcome to the inaugural Omaha Food This Week recap where I go eat great food/attend culinary events and write about it. This week- National Gumbo Day with Shuck’s Fish House & Oyster Bar and The Market House’s Fall Menu Party.

Monday, October 12 was National Gumbo Day. To commemorate, Shuck’s offered Gumbo Flights Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A friend and I decided to stop by during Happy Hour Monday and try the full flight (five types of gumbo).


Shuck’s original- a go-to for many at Shuck’s. Nice flavors from the seafood and sausage, not too spicy.

Turducken- not a huge fan of dark roux and the combo of duck and turkey with the chicken made the gumbo very heavy. Overpowered any spice that was present.

Alligator- a runner-up,the alligator was done well and reminded my friend of chicken. Great choice if you’re burned out on the original.

Root Vegetable- my least favorite of the night and the only one I didn’t finish. Very bland and a too thick consistency even for gumbo.

Crawfish- by far my favorite of the night. Nice pieces of crawfish and spice. The lighter roux lets the crawfish really shine.


Thursday October 15 The Market House had a Seasons Soiree to celebrate their Fall Menu. They had selections from the menu as well as tastings from Zipline Brewing and Dark Horse Distillery.


I tried both the Copper Alt amd Nut Brown from Zipline. The Copper Alt being their most popular, it’s a smooth ale/lager hybrid. I was pleasantly surprised by the Nut Brown. Not too dark and a very smooth finish.



The Dark Horse Distillery samples included their Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, Reunion Rye Whiskey and Reunion Barrel Strength. While I loved the Barrel Strength my favorite was the Rye, perfect for a strong Manhattan or Old Fashioned.


  
And now for the menu bites-

Deviled Farm Eggs (salmon roe, house bacon, fleur de sel)
Possibly the best deviled eggs I’ve had in a while. The filling was straight forward, no mayo or sauce to make it runny or too sweet. The combo of salmon roe and fleur de sel gave it a distinct saltiness but the bacon did get a little lost.


Baby Romaine (smoked oyster dressing, brioche, grana padano)
A deconstructed play on the Caesar salad the individual romaine leaves looked a little “meh” at first. After one bite, however, it was hard to not eat the whole platter. The smoked oyster dressing was divine and a perfect substitute for sardines, giving the “salad” more depth.


Mussels (red curry, sweet potato, leek, grilled peasant bread)
Full disclosure– I’m not the hugest fan of mussels. One too many rubbery-renditions have put me off them. In spite of this, The Market House put a dent in my disdain. Super soft with the right amount of chew the mussels benefited greatly from the curry. The true draw for this dish was the curry sauce. Super creamy and subtly spicy, you get grilled peasant bread for dipping. I ended up eating just bread and sauce at one point, not being able to resist sopping it all up (despite my dislike of soggy bread. again touche MH). If Market House sold this sauce in a saucer with bread I’d visit every weekend.