Friday, May 3rd, 2013
They are opening a restaurant! Go to Kickstarter to help them raise the funds for their new venture.
Quite some time ago, I signed up for email alerts from PushStart Kitchen. Chef Zach Meloy and his wife Cristina create intimate dinner parties in a rustic space at The Goat Farm two or three evenings a week. Each menu is unique, featuring veggies one week, Latin flavors the next, or a mad combo of both.
The menu sent out last week was particularly intriguing, with words like bacon and coffee catching my attention. I responded, albeit not right away, only to find out the dinner for Sunday was fully booked. However, a few days later I received a last minute email from Cristina saying there had been a cancellation. Were we still interested? Indeed!
LC joined me on our first visit to the art complex on the West side known as The Goat Farm. Upon arrival, we were met in the parking lot and escorted to the space upstairs where Zach was preparing an appetizer of smoked ham on a stick, dotted with BBQ sauce, and mixing some sweet yet deceptively strong rum cocktails with black tea and ginger.
We mingled with our fellow diners to discover most of them had attended PushStart several times, each one raving about the intimate dining experience and the amazing food. After a couple of cocktails, we were seated at the 100 year old table, a thickly varnished repurposed door, set for sixteen guests.
Inspired by his cravings when hungover, chef Meloy started us off with chewy yet crispy hunter’s bacon lardon. It was paired with neat squares of dense and creamy bread pudding, arugula, and slices of pickled Asian pear, all resting on a generous drizzle of smoked maple syrup. Manchego cheese had been made into a foam which was piped onto each plate. Each component was presented somewhat individually, representing a variety of textures and flavors. An oaky chardonnay was a tricky pairing (perhaps only because I dislike chardonnay). The chatter at the table suddenly ceased as we all became mesmerized by our perfectly balanced plates.
Meloy’s main course was a flank steak served with a soft cooked egg made in his countertop sous vide machine. Introducing familiar Latin flavors, a heavy smudge of black bean puree decorated the plate, along with pickled tomatillo halves and small orbs of crispy masa. He paced around the table as we broke our eggs, anxious to confirm that the yolks remained soft. Success! The tartness of the pickled tomatillos and the earthy corn flavor of the masa once again showed the chef’s ability to compose a perfectly balanced plate. A spicy, earthy cab was an excellent pairing.
Dessert was served in large white bowls, two doughnuts sprinkled with sugar mixed with a bit of ancho chili powder for a surprising but pleasant kick. A mound of malted milk balls were beneath them, all atop a drizzle of bourbon gel. They would have been excellent just like that, but the chef’s assistant came around with a pitcher of cold coffee custard that she elegantly poured into each bowl, completing the dish. Ridiculously awesome. How about some champagne with that? Yes, please.
The finale was a strong after dinner cordial and a dish of chewy candies made by Cristina, who was busy caring for their new baby.
Naturally, discussion at the table centered around food, and as a food writer, my fellow diners were eager to know how I rated this meal. To be honest, it was exquisite, definitely in my top ten meals of all time. And for a mere $60 suggested donation per diner, a bargain as well.
Like Dinner Party Atlanta which morphed into a full-blown restaurant, The Lawrence, and Spice Route that became the brick-and-mortar Cardamom Hill, the Meloys are on the hunt for a space, hoping to turn PushStart Kitchen into the restaurant of their dreams. But for now, it’s one dinner at a time.
The Goat Farm is located at 1200 Foster Street NW