Emerging Chefs paired up with Chef Brian Rosander last night for an evening of fun, revelry, food and handcrafted cocktails. The concept was a take on Last Tango in Paris, which they originally planned to show outside, but thought against it after watching it a bit more closely. There are some things that should not be seen while eating and I don't think it was missed.
I arrived shortly after 6 and headed out to the back terrace to meet up with friends. I was quite happy to snag a seat outside as it had started to cool off and I've never been on VTR's patio before. It's part of the super-secret back room (that you need reservations for) and doesn't open until late in the evening when the sun has already set.
top: the 5 course menu & Chef Rosander saying hello
The freshness of this soup was unbelieveable. I think I dreamt about this. The light and airy crab on top was the perfect accompaniment. I thought the White Lotus was a tasty cocktail to start off with to prepare the palate for what was to come.
I love myself a Manhattan. And VTR is probably the best place in the city (or anywhere) to get one. You've heard about their cherries, right? Legendary. Imported from Italy. The problem is that I can only have a few sips of one before I'm on the floor. It was a smart move that each cocktail was scaled down so you could enjoy the next (and make it home!) This course blew me away in the fact it was quite simple and complex at the same time. I don't usually eat while drinking a Manhattan so I'm not sure about the pairing, but I definitely enjoyed each of these tremendously. The sausage? To die for.
Here it is. The new summer sipper. The Apricot Lady. I'm usually a sidecar or aviation girl, but I'm switching to this for the rest of the season. If only I could convince Paulius to sneak me the recipe...
The chicken mousseline was light and airy and the perfect base for the tomato and basil. I can't decide between these first 3 courses which is my favorite. I just know I could eat each one every single day.
This is the only course I felt a bit ambivalent about. Chef Rosander had told us at the beginning that he was playing around with the concept of temperature and the entire menu would be served lightly chilled. This was interesting because food tastes completely different when it's hot. We were sitting outside on a summer night and I thought this was a unique idea. A mix of savory and sweet, this combines pork belly, apples and, as you can see, powdered sugar on top. I was thoroughly confused, but always up to try something new. I'm still a bit unsure about this one. The flavors were good, I just think the texture may have lent itself better in a warm dish.
The final course was a mousse-custard consistency and the spicy ginger did a great job of balancing out the fruity sweetness. The White Russian tasted exactly as it should, and to me they have always tasted like melted ice cream. And you can never go wrong with that. Note the ice cubes. These are signature to VTR. They have a freezer specially designed to make them exactly 1.25" square and freeze them to minus 30 degrees (rather than the typical +26 degrees) keeping your drink colder (and stronger) longer.
Overall, this was one fantastic night. I thought the staff did pretty well overall. We always had fresh water to keep hydrated and for the most part everything was served timely. There were a few lags between drinks and pairings and I can only imagine this was due to the fact that everyone was a bit spread out.
Velvet Tango Room is divided into three areas. The main front bar area, the back room and the terrace. Chef Rosander had to make his way to each, therefore going over each course three times, as you couldn't tell what was going on in the back room if you were sitting outside. But you would never have noticed this as he was excited and gracious every time.
While we were finishing up dessert and the sun was setting, we were able to catch a few fireworks from our seats. It was a wonderful end to a fun evening.
**Emerging Chefs next event, Sagra di San Rocco is coming up Aug 3rd w/ Chef Jeff Fisher. Tickets are $50 and available here.
::Disclosure - I attended this event with a Media Pass c/o Emerging Chefs. All opinions, as always, are my own::