There were about a dozen of us, all wrapped around a long narrow table, groaning. Sergio Romero, the exec chef of Le Grand Bistro and Oyster Bar, and the forthcoming Punch Bowl - Social Food & Drink, which opens next month in Baker, had decided to host a menu tasting -- a BIG menu tasting -- of some of the dishes he's considering putting on the board at Punch Bowl, and by the end of it, all of us needed a crane to hoist our asses from the chairs and out the door after the marathon grub fest, which, by the way, was worth every calorie, every pound of added fat and every snap that popped off our pants.
This is just the beginning of what Romero, who describes the Punch Bowl menu as a "collection of American classics under one roof," has assembled. We'll bring you more of Romero's food porn in the coming weeks, but for right now, you can feast on these. Bring an appetite.
- Exclusive first look: Punch Bowl - Social Food & Drink, opening at the end of October - Anika Zappe named bar manager of Punch Bowl Social, Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar and Argyll - Big Lots on Broadway to become a big bowling alley and 24/7 diner, courtesy of Argyll's Robert Thompson
Salt-and-vinegar popcorn. Fried oyster nachos with whole grain mustard hollandaise sauce, chives, melted mozzarella and tortilla chips, served in tiny cast-iron skillets. "We did this as a special at Argyll, and people went apeshit over it," says Romero. Split end, all-beef Vienna Hebrew National franks topped with heirloom tomatoes, housemade pickles, sport peppers, white onions, mustard and celery salt, wedged between poppy seed potato buns from Grateful Bread. Four-cheese macaroni with duck confit. Romero will do different versions of macaroni and cheese, depending upon the day, but he says that hot dogs will be strongly considered. "That would be fucking awesome," he says. New Mexican green chile with Hatch chiles, tomatoes and pork. The spicy stew comes sided with a toasted "intentionally greasy" tostada. Aji amarillo-glazed chicken wings with a side of crème fraîche and blue cheese dipping sauce. Note the retro CorningWare serving bowl. Spaghetti and meatballs, a blend of veal, pork and beef, slicked with pomodoro sauce. Chicken pot pie with puff pastry. New England clam chowed with fresh clams and salt pork. Chicken and egg noodle soup crowned with crisped shallots. Chilaquiles with guajillo chile puree, scrambled eggs, star anise-pickled jalapenos, avocado, cilantro and queso cotija. Punch Bowl fries. Olive oil-poached tuna melt with Boston bibb lettuce, tomatoes, garlic aioli and havarti dill. Black cod fish and chips paired with "Argyll" malt vinegar gastrique potato chips and a caper, purple onion and cornichon tartar sauce.
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