“Death Row Meal” 4.5 of 5 Stars
Article by Sherrod Faulks of Slice & Torte
Lead photos by Fitz
(Top: charcuterie Above Left: succotash Above Right: amuse bouche , beet with carrot soil)
Dim lights. Esoteric symbols. Exposed brick walls. Deer heads. Black floors. Glass fixtures. Welcome to Saint Germain. This is the playground of Chef Dave Hledik, where the menu is filled with seemingly simple combinations of ingredients that are anything but.
Before the meal begins, my dinner companions and I are enticed with curiosities disguised as bar snacks, the highlight of which is the popcorn. The popcorn comes to the table smoking, frozen shatteringly crisp using liquid nitrogen. As we pop toffee-coated kernels into our mouths, we giggle at the delightful sensation and puffs of cold air that are expelled.
Next we are treated to an amuse bouche , beet with carrot soil. It’s vegetal and earthy but not terribly exciting. The following amuse bouche is corn chowder dippin’ dots with tomato water, sea salt foam, and bacon powder. It’s a master class in texture, temperature, and combination of flavor. Independently, each component is extreme, but a combined spoonful creates a balanced taste where the corn, tomato, and bacon flavors are delicately seasoned by the salty foam and the temperature and textural changes force our palates to experience every nuance of each ingredient.
Especially for us, the chef prepared a succotash like no other. Imagine cassoulet had made its way from the south of France to the French Quarter of New Orleans and you’ll have the idea. Charred corn, field peas, smoked ham, and bonito flakes in an unctuous broth made for a hearty first course. We could’ve stopped there, but then we would have missed Saint Germain’s raison d’être, the charcuterie.
Opting for the largest selection, we were presented with a mammoth assortment of meats, cheeses, pickles, mustards, and crackers. There’s not enough room on this page to go into detail on each component, but there are few selections that are not to be missed. The porchetta di testa is an explosion of meaty goodness. The Surryano ham is an authentic Virginian play on traditional Serrano jamon. The Calabrian heart sausage is deceptively light. The Oaxacan chorizo’s nasal vinegary burn is an endorphin releasing pleasure.
The way to eat the charcuterie is to taste everything on its own first, then start mixing and matching: pâté de campagne with St. André and whole grain mustard; rogue smoked blue cheese with honey and pickled watermelon rind on a house-made cracker; Filipino longaniza with red dragon cheese and pickled okra. Like the nitro corn chowder amuse bouche, the charcuterie works best when all of its components are mixed. And that’s Saint Germain on a plate. Nitro-frozen food, violently spicy sausage, cotton candy, and Virginian salumi, that form a symphony of harmonious experiences when combined.
For more on Saint Germain visit them online at www.saintgermainnorfolk.com
and on their facebook here
For more on Sherrod Faulks and Slice & Torte- www.sliceandtorte.com