Since its stealth opening 2 years ago, I have rarely failed to be enchanted by what is 1 of the most original & exciting restaurants in town if not far beyond. (For my most recent review, see here.) Last night’s Ghosts by Lantern Light Dinner, served in the cellar, was no exception. Needless to say, the exquisitely moody Log Cabin–goth decor borders on spooky come Halloween (as does that of B&W’s freaky sibling, Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto); so though poor you are out of luck with respect to this prix-fixe one-off, here’s hoping my play-by-play inspires you to stop in this weekend to soak up some sumptuously eerie atmosphere while snacking from the regular menu. (The crawfish beignets are a must-try, & though I’ve never had the PEI mussels in roasted tomato-fontina broth, fond memories of mussels bathed in robiola at my old haunt in Boston, Neptune Oyster, give me high hopes for the dish. Actually, these 2 personal faves remind me of one another insofar as their chefs have a flair for neo-surf-&-turf—scallops with ham, oysters with beef tongue, shrimp with pork belly & chicharrónes, veal sweetbreads with clams, sturgeon with duck confit, etc. etc.—that makes me keel over swooning.)
With only 12 of us seated around a long table surrounded by increasing darkness—the many candles on the table were extinguished a few at a time after each course, until all that was left was a bit of gas lamplight—much picture-taking would have probably gotten me strung up by the noose hanging on one wall, so may my words do the whole thing justice.
Cobwebs filled the stairwell; smoke spilled from buckets of dry ice (it’d have been cool if it covered the whole floor, but there’s probably some code against that); the table was scattered with gourds (bringing to mind that classic McSweeney’s essay, It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers.)
More about that fine cocktail from B&W’s inexplicably underrated bar in future; let’s start with the “amuse booche.” All of a centimeter, it was an adorable play on candy corn, composed of triangular layers of corn & carrot gelée sprinkled with sherry salt & paired with a revelatory sparkler—Hesketh Proposition blends Shiraz, Chardonnay & Semillon to watermelon-juicy effect.
Next course: chunky white bean soup swirled with savoy cabbage & diced housemade bacon; a thick coin of almost creamy boudin blanc sat on top. Earthy, hearty & a touch fruity—I suspect via a splash of sherry—it indeed ate like a meal rather than 1/5 of a meal. Oof.
Which brings us to the grilled lamb liver & kidney pie with picalilli (of currants, I believe?)
Tearful confession: with the exception of superfatty foie gras & buttery patés, I am not a liver lover. I’ve tried, God knows I’ve tried, & I still try, but there’s something about the tang of iron—smacking of this color—I can’t take. It’s literally bilious. I chewed as much as I could stomach between big forkfuls of the flaky pie, spilling with bits of kidney & root veggies.
Which was just as well, because I polished off every last bite of the final courses, grotesquely full as I was.
Tender braised veal breast & fried sweetbreads came with fingerling hash & two superb sauces that not only thrilled the meats but played off 1 another: caramel-apple on the one hand, a pesto of capers, golden raisins & mint on the other. The whole was as richly colorful as autumn itself.
And then there was mincemeat pie. Oh my. More like a slump or cobbler in that it was just topped with crust, the cooked fruit was threaded with shredded yak—darkly luscious & topped off with freshly whipped cream & what may be the best ice cream I’ve ever had, really, & I’ve had a lot of freaking ice cream in 40 years on this earth: crunchy-smooth sweet potato–toffee. The Errazuriz late-harvest Sauvignon Blanc made for an inspired pairing—while its honeyed quality was a natural complement, it also showed notes of lemon that cut through a bit of the dessert’s richness.
Sheer trick-or-treat kudos.