About 2 weeks into the first season of The Taste I got an email about two of the contestants, Gregg Drusinsky and Sarah Ashley, having opened a pop-up restaurant for Valentine’s Day and the weekend after. My opinion after two episodes was that Gregg was an ass, but a great chef, and Sarah was pretty although Gregg thought she was a crappy cook and a waste of space. Sounded like fun. I was in!
The pop-up restaurant is (present tense because they are going to have more of them!) located in a former subway station called the Old Bowery Depot.
I had misread and had thought tickets were for the food only and then you could purchase their recommended wine pairings for extra. Not true. $50 got you the meal and as much wine as you want. As in the waiter placed the wine bottle in front of me, saw my eyes widen at the fact he was leaving it there and whispered, “ENJOY!”
So there I was, ready to watch Gregg be a jerk to his customers and to Sarah when two things happened: 1) he came over to our table and welcomed us with such genuineness that either he’s the world’s best actor or they really edited it to make him look like a douchebag and 2) before the start of the evening he leaned over, held Sarah’s hand and gave her a kiss. What the WHAT?!!!! I spent the rest of the evening speculating if she was pissed when she watched the episode afterwards and saw Gregg’s not so nice comments. But back to the pop-up.
The point of their pop-up restaurant was to make their guests feel like they were at an intimate gathering. They more than succeeded with that, all while providing food that was out of this world. I wasn’t the biggest fan based on the menu as their entree of roast chicken had me skeptical about commuting all the way into the city on one of the colder weekends of Winter 2013, but it was completely worth it and the five-course dinner (and everything else) exceeded my wildest expectations.
The courses were as follows:
Course 1: Crostini with smoked dungeness crab and avocado; butternut squash, ricotta and pistachio oil; and mushroom conserva and quail egg.
Course 2: Winter salad with cauliflower, tangerine, and marcona almond. I have to say, this was one of my favorite salads ever. I was skeptical when the bowl was dropped in front of me and it just looked like a bunch of rabbit food, but it truly was so delicious. I haven’t tried it yet, but Sarah posted the recipe on her blog here.
Course 3: Roast chicken with charred-shallot relish, dijon w/house-made butter, fleur de sel and green olive tapenade. Also one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever eaten!!!
Course 4: Crisp-roasted Brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes with herbs, bacon and lemon.
Course 5: Buttermilk cakes with blood-orange vanilla bean custard, super-rich chocolate frosting, curried caramel sauce.
Gregg definitely can cook and Sarah was the epitome of generousness and such a friendly host that by the end of the night I was calling her my bestie (behind her back of course, I didn’t want her to have to take out a restraining order on me).
That night we were told about Gregg and Sarah’s next pop-up plans, which I was so upset to miss because I forgot to buy tickets until they were all sold out, and so every couple of weeks I stalk the evenbrite website in hopes of finding when the next pop-up will be held.
Also, the pop-up restaurant also made The Taste more interesting as I spent the rest of the weeks that it aired trying to figure out when they got together… clearly I should have a restraining order taken out on me.
And speaking of besties, I had a conversation with Ryan that went like this:
Me: blah blah blah blah blah my bestie (okay, I didn’t want to be embarrassed because my besties are imaginary – but in honor of full disclosure, the bestie under discussion happened to be Jennifer Lawrence).
Ryan: Everyone can’t be your bestie, you say everyone is.