Monday, May 7

Plate By Plate: Gwynnett St.

I never look forward to things, because I don't like getting disappointed. Also, I lose track of time easily and things sneak up on me, since my head is pretty much permanently in the fucking clouds. But, with Gwynnett Street, I made this menu my bitch. I actually might have prepared better for this than my senior year French exam, not even in an anecdotal sense. I was counting down the days 'til dinner, had reviews tucked into my phone, New York Times photo essays popped into Evernote documents — basically, I was uncomfortably close to being that broad from that New York Magazine foodie article that everyone hates yet completely identifies with and will never admit it.

Let me preface this food fiesta by confessing that I walked five miles to get here (seriously), so I was allowed to eat anything I wanted. Which, thanks to my friendly four-top lets-pig-the-fuck-out-and-convince-Isaac-to-eat-things-he's-scared-of supper clubaroo, was easy as pie. Well, as mint sponge. We'll get to that later.

Whiskey Bread, with cultured butter. G'lawd, this one's a winner. The butter is a creamy pile of heaven and the crusts are better than the insides, which legit taste so dense and full of whiskey that we actually asked the waitress how much we'd have to eat to get drunk off it. Her response: "Oh, it cooks off. Yeah, we get that question all the time when babies are in here and they eat it. It's totally safe. But wouldn't that be funny? Drunk babies?!? Oh, man!" Tip well earned, stomachs well fed, reason to return fully secured.

Slow-poached egg. To have read a review that said this alone was "worth a ride on the L train" clearly doesn't take the L train when it's half bus/half in service, on any weekend or filled with drunk 19-year-olds on summer nights. All in all, the soft egg with the bits of pork and poured-over broth kind of tasted kind of like breakfast soup. Good, but not great. Can I have more whiskey bread now?

Bok Choy with cauliflower, grapefruit and whipped feta. I never usually suggest salad appetizers — because when have you ever left a dinner going, "wow, that salad!" — but this one was as good as vegetables not covered in animal fats can get. Which brings us to...

Lamb Breast with carrots, caraway and yogurt. HOLY FUCK. Hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen, because all dieting just flew out the window. This isn't just standout dish of the night good, it's "I know we're friends, but I am cutting myself a larger-than-half portion and don't give a shit if you notice" good. I think that tiny nibble of meat I ate actually reverted my brain back to caveman-style meat needs. Also, it apparently takes three days to prepare. I would kill someone over this.

Amish Chicken: And here's where I start sounding like a dick. Something tasted off about this until the very final piece. One friend at the table loved it; my boyfriend remarked every third bite that something tasted "weird". The dish has since changed since it's big time review, and all I know is that if the barley it was plated with was the highlight, that ain't a good sign.

Duck Breast, Wild Rice, Bell Pepper and Goose Berries: How this dish was Immaculate Infatuation's favorite next to Eleven Madison Park and mine came served with crunchy rice — undercooked, crunchy rice — I will never know. That being said, the duck was good, the fatty ends were downright delicious, and it caused one friend to go head-over-heels for his a newfound discovery of gooseberries, but in the end it couldn't hold a candle to that lamb dish we had right before.


When the chef's trained at wd-50, you indulge in two molecular gastronomy-style desserts. When you can't decide on what to get, you rock-paper-scissors for a third. And, when you throw a drunken hissy when the table next to you devours the one you didn't eat and they've run out of whiskey bread for you to order again and eat on the way to the next bar, you order the entire dessert menu.


Milk Chocolate, peanut and black currant (upper left): My friend Kristin called it a "deconstructed PB&J", which is exactly what it tastes like — but only if you get a tiny piece of everything on the same spoonful, which is tricky in the dark.

Coconut, malt, barley and pomegranate (upper right): By far the most impressive of desserts, this panna cotta-style dessert was like eating coconut snow. Lots of work went into this one, and it paid off. If you only order one, go with this.

Mint, milk and green strawberries (bottom): Creamy ice cream, pickled strawberries and a mint sponge, which I will forever refer to as "space broccoli". I'm still kind of amazed and elated that they're serving stuff like this in a neighborhood where the only dessert spots used to be an ice cream stand and Fortunato Brothers.

Cashew, apricot and white birch: Drunkenly forced my friends to indulge in this mix of cashew meringue, mousse, candied nuts and luscious apricot sorbet unsurprisingly resulted in nobody being glad we ordered this but me. But, it tasted like spring and more effort was put into it than anything I've ever made with two hands and a heart, so fuck all y'all.

Crib notes:

- Whiskey Bread is available for take-out (come around 6pm), and on Sundays, they'll give you homemade Apricot jam to go with it. Perfect for McCarren picnic plops, and for begging friends that live nearby to pick it up before meeting up.

- Go for a drink, order whiskey bread and lamb, and call it a night. There's still food to try, but these truly are the best on the menu and some of the tastiest things you'll eat all year.

- Apparently they serve french toast with lardo at Sunday brunch? File under "needs to be explored via mouth canal when riddled with a summertime hangover."

- Turn your iPhone brightness up. Oddly, the most disappointing part of the meal was that the desserts were absolutely gorgeous, as was most of the food, but the place was so dark that it was hard to take in the beauty without the glare of an aggressively bright camera flash. Look how pretty! Really, look, because it'll be hard to see it when you're there. And drunk. You'll be drunk.

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