I'd like to think that I'm not generally prone to hyperbole. I do get excited on occasion (usually about some obscure liquor that I've picked up at Corti Brothers, or I've seen a truly great bartender in action recently, but I've been involved with opening more restaurants than I'd care to count, and while some may have been better than others, after a while, its all the same thing. Opening a restaurant is a lot of work, and there are frequently several bumps along the way. In fact, while the public may get excited about an opening, frequently the staff can feel almost a sense of a letdown once previews start, leading to some less than promising starts for some establishments. Previews are especially hard as oftentimes only limited product is on hand and it can be next to impossible to accomodate our guests who may have a special request. I'm really happy to report that none of the above has happened with 50 Plates. In fact, the enthusiasm and passion that the staff is bringing seems to grow by leaps and bounds every day that we get closer.
This past Wednesday, we did our media preview dinner, which was a who's who of local media thanks to our phenomenal PR person, Bette Sinclair. I have to give Bette kudos for not just inviting the usual suspects, but also including great local websites such as Neighborhood Notes. As an aside, if you are a Portlander, Neighborhood Notes is essential to bookmark for local news and events of interest. Overall, we had approximately 50 members of the media for our event.
I don't want to mention too much about our food, simply because I think that its one of those things that you have to try for yourself. I will say that the food is fantastic from top to bottom, and our chef and his team are delivering one of the most creative and unique menus in the city. Its not an easy menu to execute well, but I'm delighted to see how well the kitchen has already formed into a cohesive team. Its going to be a real pleasure to work with this kitchen, and our chef Randall, well, I don't think I've ever met a chef more creative (and able to take a creative thought and turn it into good product) than him.
So, lets get onto the good stuff shall we? Cocktails. Suzanne Allard and I worked this event and we were asked to create a few of our signature cocktails for the event. We offered up a Ginger Collins, with Aviation gin, Clear Creek Pear Liqueur, lemon and club soda, the North Beach with Bombay Sapphire, Aperol, lemon and simple syrup, a Dark and Stormy with Gosling's Black Seal rum, house ginger beer (my recipe) and lime, and a Bourbon Marmalade Whiskey Sour featuring a 1/2 Seville and 1/2 Blood Orange marmalade that I designed specifically to go with the bourbon that we used, Buffalo Trace. Overall, I was very happy with the quality of the cocktails served, and even better, my first shift with Suzanne felt like we'd been working together for years. Suzanne is one hell of a bartender, and I'm glad to be working with her (plus, she appreciates vodka more than I do, which should work to our advantage).
We do have an ice crusher that we will be using for juleps, and I got someone to bring our julep cups in, so I did end up making a few mint juleps on the side as well. I'll just say, there are few drinks as good as the julep, and ours is a first rate julep. We might even explore some variations on the classic julep if things go well. As it is, I want to ensure that each and every drink that goes out to our guests is perfect, whether its made by me, Suzanne or someone else. Even in the middle of rush, we are going to measure each drink to ensure balance, structure and uniformity.
At the end of dinner, chef and I put together an adult root beer float with Barq's root beer, Navan (a vanilla cognac that I adore) and his Philadelphia style vanilla ice cream, which worked as a nice cap to the evening. Then, chef had prepared some of Mamie Eisenhower's recipe for fudge, and as our guests departed, they were given a nice box of the fudge to take home. That was the only downside of the night for me, I'd tasted the fudge earlier and was really hoping someone would decline so that I could have some more. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, so I think I'm going to have to bug chef for either another batch of fudge or the recipe.
I'm going to be behind the bar at 50 Plates on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Stop in and say hi when we open on the 28th. I'd love to show off our new place to you.
Thanks for reading,