Friday, June 10, 2011

Sneak Preview of Oxbow's Kitchen Door

Last night I scored a fabulous sneak preview of Todd Humphries and Richard Miyashiro's Kitchen Door, which is slated to open to the public next Tuesday, June 14th.  I'd previously spoken with the dream team behind this new restaurant while it was still under construction, and you can read all about the background in the resulting article.

The lovely and enchanting Beef Carpaccio
The menu has a lot of variety, from the legendary Cream of Mushroom soup ($7), Kobe Beef Burger with wine-stewed onions and Swiss cheese ($13.95), and Beef Carpaccio with Himalayan truffle puree, crispy potato confetti, arugula, and lemon aioli ($10.95), to the new Korean Style Short Ribs in Soya Glaze with spicy mushroom, veggie, and bacon fried rice ($14), and Alsatian Flammeküche flatbread topped with ham, onions, gruyère cheese, watercress, and frisée ($13.75).  Fans of Humphries' mushroom soup should also check out the Hen of the Woods Mushroom Flatbread ($13.95), whose delectable blend of parmesan cream, provolone, mozzarella, starch, and mushroom is essentially a pizza version of the soup, and the ideal vehicle for gathering up any traces of shroomy love still in your bowl. 

Juicy duck + tangy carrots and daikon + Sriracha mayo = WINNING
As a Vietnamese food fanatic, I was delighted to also spy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle soup (pho ga) ($12) and a Roast Duck Banh Mi Dip ($12.95).  This version of the classic sandwich combined the usual magic assemblage of pickled veggies, rich meat, and spicy mayo with a little dunking bowl of tasty duck broth and perfectly cooked sweet potato fries.  It all vanished in short order, with only a few drops of broth remaining.

Hen of the Woods Flatbread: one of the many tasty things
coming out of Kitchen Door's wood-burning oven.
Sides like 4505's Chicharrones (a.k.a. "Piggy Puffs" here) ($3.75), Roasted Shishito Peppers with lime and Korean chili flakes ($6.75), Charcuterie from Fatted Calf ($11.95), and Burrata with olive pesto and herb flat bread ($8.25) clearly take aim at the gnawing, ravening, rich-toothed beast within.  This is comfort food at its best, with layers of sophisticated flavor and loads of satisfaction for your base, reptilian brain.

Desserts mostly center around the softserve ice cream from Straus (sundaes with tiny marshmallows, fudge, candied nuts; or dulce de leche and fried churros; or marinated strawberries; or espresso, $3.75-$6.50), but there's also a Candy Cap Mushroom Bread Pudding ($6.95), Panna Cotta with summer berry compote ($6.50), an assorted cookie plate ($6), and Napa Cakes Panforte ($3.50), loaded with nuts, fruits, and spice.

Looking towards the south wall.
The dessert station is where the Oxbow Wine Merchants' refrigerated
high-end wine room used to be.
In terms of beverages, I was loving on their Rosso Fazekas Sangiovese, which is available on tap for $8.00/glass, $17.00 for a half-liter (2/3 of a bottle).  Balanced and earthy, this was for me the perfect food wine.  A total of eight wines and four beers are available on tap, with 20 more bottled wines available by the glass, half-liter, or bottle, and nine more beers in bottles or cans.  Every single wine is available by the glass, too, so you can truly order only what you want to drink. 

Some might gripe that the wine selection is fairly simple, but Kitchen Door is not Martini House.  This is supposed to be a place you can visit any night of the week, every week.  A place for Tuesday night wine, not $75 Napa cabs.  In my opinion, the list has a remarkable range of food-friendly varietals: Vermentino, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Arneis, Grenache Blanc, and Viognier, in addition to the usual big three whites; Tempranillo, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, as well as the obvious reds.  And, the most expensive bottle is $42.  That works just fine for me....

Kitchen Door is planning to be open for lunch and dinner every day of the week starting June 14th.  I can't wait to go back... but I think it's safe to say the place will be mobbed.  And deservedly so.

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