Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Experiment #25 - Cobaya Edge

Wow, our 25th Cobaya "experiment".  It's been nearly three years since the inaugural Cobaya dinner and boy has it been a lot of fun.  The fun and great food continued to rock n' roll with Chef Aaron Brooks of Edge Steak & Bar taking the reigns for another impressive meal.

I met Chef Brooks via Twitter.  He called me out to come in and try his take on a lobster roll.  After seeing some fried razor clams on his menu one day for lunch and learning he'd spent time in my home city of Boston, I decided it was time to head in and see what I could see.  I enjoyed an incredibly flavorful dinner on my first visit and I liked the atmosphere of the restaurant space a lot.  Great staff too.  There wasn't any lobster roll to be had on the dinner menu but a lunch visit at a later date proved that although it was somewhat an un-traditional lobster roll (lettuce, tomato jam, sliced avocado) it was still tasty.  I have made lots of visits since and have tried a good portion of the menu.  I've also attended a few of the specialty dinners held at Edge, namely the Bourbon & Beer dinner and a visit to the darkside at a scotch dinner.  I think the thing that impresses me most about Chef Brooks' cooking style is his ability to provide distinct, true flavor while also combining various textures to round out a dish and keep it interesting. 

As fun as Cobaya can be for the diners, we also encourage the chefs to have fun and cook what they love cooking.  Chef Brooks really embraced this concept.  Manning the helm of a restaurant within the Four Seasons has him restricted to certain concepts.  In this case it's steakhouse with an occasional Latin twist with instructions that Asian dishes are not within the concept.  Chef Brooks is originally from Australia and has a passion for Southeast Asian cuisine.  He treated this meal like he was cooking for a group of friends at home and went to town with it.

Fried Clams
Our meal was held in a private corridor surrounded by large glass windows with views of the massive hotel waterfall on one side and overlooking Biscayne Bay on the other.  A late lightning storm over the bay made for some nice fireworks during the meal.  The fireworks had already begun with this first dish, a not-so-Southeast-Asian but beautifully presented plate of fried clams.  This dish touched on the chef's time spent in Boston.  The fry on these bad boys was spot on perfect with what I grew up eating.  They sat in their shells atop a tartar-like crema that had nice flavor.  I could've eaten a whole box of these.  Actually, I plan to request that Chef Brooks do that sometime because I think it would be a hit (and if not I'll happily eat any and all leftovers).

George's Bank Scallops, soft tofu, fried egg, pickled shallot, baby cucumber (photo: Melissa Thrasher)
The next dish, fresh George's Bank scallops, showcased the chef's aforementioned skill with texture.  Soft, sweet scallops worked with a soft tofu and were counterbalanced by the crisp of some fried scrambled egg and crunch of baby cucumber.  A little heat in this dish as well from what I believe were pepper flakes worked well too.  Fantastic dish.

Chilled mussel salad, young lotus root, fire roasted peanuts, mint, cured pig's face, chili jam
Another beautiful presentation brought forth a chilled mussel salad that I thought would be my favorite dish of the night.  It had it all - briny flavor from the mussels, crunchy peanuts, fragrant nasturtium, a little heat from the chili jam counterbalanced with the cooling of mint leaves.  Chef's cured pig's face was phenomenal.  The tender little rolls with a fantastic flavor tucked into the dish and were treated like treasure as I made my way thru each bite.  This was another dish I'd love to see again and again.

Hot & Sour Soup, squid noodles, fragrant herbs, Thai sausage, shrimp, shrimp cake
Surprising as I felt to say it, this Hot & Sour soup was the dish that, for me, was the standout of the night.  Everything about this dish worked incredibly well and it all started with a perfect broth that I wasn't afraid to drink at our fancy dining table.  The Thai sausage had a wonderful texture to it and I really liked the creativity of using thin ribbons of squid as noodles.  They were beautifully tender.  Kaffir lime leaves and cilantro provided some great aromatics as well.  Absolutely knock-down-drag-out phenomenal dish.

Short rib cooked in coconut, sweet potato, snake bean, basil (photo: Melissa Thrasher)
I gotta be honest...  I think my love for the previous dish caused a blackout because I don't remember much of this dish at all outside of the shortrib being very tender and the fresh basil sticking with the fragrant theme that had come with many of the night's dishes.  It could've also had to do with the fact that it was sandwiched between my favorite dish of the night and another favorite that came next...

Grilled duck, foie gras curry, heirloom potatoes, lychee, radish
When it comes to eating duck, to me temperature is everything.  As soon as I saw the pinkish flesh of this dish, I knew temperature was on point, so much so that I dove in before remembering to snap a photo.  The duck had a perfectly cooked texture to it.  After another bite or two, I noticed a richness to this dish coming from the sauce.  I looked at my Cobaya co-conspirator, The Chowfather, and said, "I think there is some foie in here."  He nodded and pointed out that I'd missed the menu description. Holy shit was this sauce good!!  I'm talkin' lick-your-plate good!  There was a little spice to it and that worked well with the spiciness from the radish and cool, sweet lychees that we love down here in South Florida.  I've never been a big fan of curry but I was a huge fan of this foie gras curry.

Orange Almond Cake, mango fluid gel, coconut sorbet, black sesame (photo: Melissa Thrasher)
A light, refreshing dessert of orange almond cake with tangy mango and pleasant coconut sorbet rounded out the night.

Having been a fan of Chef Brooks since my first dining experience at his restaurant, I had looked forward to seeing what he could do in the Cobaya kitchen.  He brought forth a fantastic meal that was creative, fresh, and delicious.  A huge thanks goes out to Chef Brooks, GM Peter Triolo, and all of the staff at the Four Seasons Brickell and Edge Steak & Bar who made for a memorable 25th Cobaya dinner.  If you haven't been to Edge yet, I strongly recommend checking them out, especially their specialty dinners towards the end of the month.

Next up, Cobaya brunch on 6/24!  Stay tuned...

No comments: