Review: Dinner, Zimmern Style
A few nights ago, I ate a calf’s testicle. Correction: I ate the testicles of several calves.
Maybe it was Andrew Zimmern working on my subconscious, but one week ago I had the sudden desire to eat, what American society would deem, the unusual. I was craving parts of all shapes and sizes, and Chef Linton Hopkin’s “Holeman & Finch” seemed to be my best bet (the testicles, called ‘veal fries’, were quite good. Had the consistency of foie gras).
The place is smaller on the inside than it looks from the outside. Walls and tables are cramping even with the high ceilings, leaving the dark space feeling like an industrialized broom closet. While we waited for a table that we couldn’t reserve ahead of time (no reservation policy), we peered into the kitchen through a large glass window facing the front door of the restaurant. The kitchen was calm, and I wondered if they were moving too slowly. No, they just had the dining room under control.
By my estimation, the dining room can seat no more than 60 people. The hostess led us to the end of a long, practically communal table. Young professionals on dates buzzed around us.
Regrettably, I forgot to put the battery into my camera so this blog will have no pictures (lighting was terrible anyway). Even without pictures, I can still remember this meal. Bone marrow came first, a long bone topped with breadcrumbs. This was my first time with marrow, and I must admit it’s an acquired taste I’m working on i.e. I almost threw up at the table (thank GOD for the Italian flat-leaf parsley which cut the flavor). My reaction was in no way a reflection of the marrow. I was just unprepared for the flavors which I honestly cannot describe for you.
A good but overly mustard-y steak tartar, a wonderfully crisp and bacon-y Niman Ranch pork belly, a particularly distinct pasta carbonara, a croque monsieur and a chicken liver pate followed. All of these dishes were very good. The pork belly in particular paired well with the bed of polenta it sat on. The carbonara deserves attention as well. It was one of the more lively renditions I’ve seen being both thicker in texture and more robust in flavor.
Yet all of these dishes, especially the carbonara and the monsieur, were within a breath of being too salty. For a majority of the dishes, under-seasoning wasn’t the problem; it was the fine line of over-seasoning that the kitchen walked.
Dessert was fried apple pie, and while it sounds like a dish you can envision and taste before it lands on your table, don’t write it off so quickly. At its core, it’s a great apple pie that’s been fried well. The surprise comes with the ice cream. As a way of balancing the pie’s sweetness, the vanilla ice cream on top is slightly salty. An unusual idea but a great one to give both the ice cream and pie prominence.
Being the tapas place Holeman & Finch is, small plates came out of the kitchen as they were made. Service in general was appropriately behind the scenes. Would I go back? Certainly, although maybe with a smaller group since sharing small plates between four people can be tricky.