Monday, August 4, 2008

50 Plates- First week reflections

Well, week one is in the books at 50 Plates. Our kitchen staff is already working like a veteran staff. Both Randall and Patrick, our chefs have everything dialed in and our dinner rushes are going smoothly. Tom and Andrew, our gm and agm are both hard working, dedicated and passionate people and its been nothing but a pleasure to work with them. Ginger, Joe, and Greg, our owners have been both incredibly generous and kind to everyone, while clearly delineating a vision of what they want to achieve with 50 Plates.

As for the bar, well, I don't think it could go better. I already have a rhythm with Suzanne Allard that usually takes years to develop, she is such a talented bartender that sometimes I'm in awe. JP and I have worked together before, and its great to be working with him again, and Jamie, our day bartender is showing real potential and I think that I'm really going to enjoy working with her.

Our cocktail list seems to be doing ok. Its not the easiest list to make and we made a lot of juleps this past weekend, which take time to craft properly. That said, we also have a Dark and Stormy with my ginger beer recipe and our .38 Special, which features mesquite smoked Jack Daniels and Mexican coke which are pretty quick to knock out. I'm not a huge Jack Daniels fan by itself, but it lends itself perfectly for smoking, which adds another flavor dimension and an interesting complexity when used in the cocktail. We are also doing a wonderful drink from the Slanted Door in SF, their Indian Summer, which is a perfect summer drink. Our North Beach Bramble, Bombay Sapphire, Aperol, Lemon juice and simple syrup, may be my current favorite on the menu. Its a gorgeous drink and the flavors combine perfectly to create something far more than the sum of its parts.

The focus of the bar is very bourbon centric, and I'm trying to carry through with the foods theme of American regional, I'm trying to carry mostly American products if I can. For instance, I'm carrying both Prichards Rums (wonderful rum made in Tennessee) as our high end rums in addition to Bacardi Select (well), Lemon Hart 151 (Spanish Coffees) and Gosling's Black Seal (Dark and Stormy's). We aren't going to be a huge rum bar, and we aren't going to do tiki drinks as they are usually too sweet or too sour to match well with food.

There have also been some very pleasant surprises. I'm carrying Leblon cachaca behind the bar (look for an upcoming review of Leblon and a return to my series on traditional Brazilian cachaca drinks soon), because its a great product and with the popularity of caipirinhas these days, it doesn't make sense to not have a top quality cachaca on the back bar. I received a very nice little care package from them along with a note wishing me success with 50 Plates. I have to say, I was really touched by the gesture.

Overall, I don't think we could have had a better opening week.

I'll leave you with the 50 Plates recipe for my current fave on the cocktail menu, the North Beach Bramble

1 oz Bombay Sapphire gin (no substitutions please, this cocktail was designed specifically for Bombay Sapphire)
1 oz Aperol
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup

Build dry in a pint glass, add ice, stir vigorously for 60 seconds, strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.


Stevi Deter said...

I'm definitely buying some Sapphire as my next bottle of gin, because I can't wait to try this drink. I'm totally in love with Aperol at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lance--Just found your blog through Liqurious/NOTCOT. I just wanted to say I appreciated your drink offerings. 50 Plates has a great list of libations. I'm looking forward to trying more of them. Cheers!

Cole Danehower said...

Hello Lance:

My wife and I visited 50 Plates last week after a preliminary round at Teardrop. Suzanne was superb! Your .38 Special was a monster hit with my wife . . . except that I ordered the drink and she pretty much took it over. Also, without a doubt one of the best Sazeracs in Portland: good job! The bar was clean, friendly and accessible. The food was pretty darn good, too.

Good luck at 50 Plates!


Chris said...

Lance, a friend Matt and I hit 50 Plates last week, after Morgenthaler pointed us there (I live in Eugene). We took friends, and had a great dinner, and Suzanne made us some great drinks. I really liked the Indian Summer, as you said, just an outstanding light summer drink - I will be working on recreating it :) Also, Suzanne made us a couple of different manhattan style cocktails after we asked for her to just make some things up to go with the entrees we had. Very cool. Similar to Cole, but in reverse order, we went over to Tear Drop afterwards and had Daniel go crazy with all sorts of experimental stuff for us (man it's good to know all you awesome bartenders!).

One thing I'm loving also, as at least a new discovery for me, is the house made tonics that people are doing. Tear Drop's is light and you could just drink gin and tonics all night long. But, I have to say, I like Morgenthaler's better in the sense that I felt it had more flavor depth. At the same time, it would limit my drinking of it some (but, uh, that might not be a bad thing :)

So, here's to all the awesome Oregon bartenders, and all of you are raising the bar on cocktails!

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