Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
This may be hard to believe. Despite its location five minutes down the street from my condo and the positive media attention since it’s opening eight years ago, I had never visted P’cheen until last weekend. It was already on top of my short list when friend BB, owner of There Brookhaven, stopped by my office with their revamped menu and some gluttonous gossip. Armed with this titillating information, I couldn’t put off a visit another day, so I talked LC into giving it a try that very night.
Having never visited the former incarnation of P’cheen, I can’t compare the decor before and after, but the space was casual and funky, with bamboo shades and copper trimmings adding warmth. Music was too loud initially, although our late arrival (around 9:30pm) would indicate that most folks have finished dining and have turned to drinking in many establishments….but not here, and not us.
Now for the gossip. Jeff Myers, formerly partner at Top Flr and still sharing ownership of Sound Table with fellow DJ Karl Injex, was expediting dishes alongside owner Keiran Neely. Coupled with the dining room makeover which Myers completed almost overnight on a $500 budget, one might conclude some sort of partnership had been arranged, but again, it’s only gossip.
We debated briefly over sitting outside where it was chilly, or indoors where it was loud, finally deciding on a table inside where we promptly ordered drinks. LC will often try a cocktail from the specialty list, this time ordering a black tea infused moonshine with lemon. I ordered an inexpensive glass of bubbly, but later switched to LC’s impressive selection, a new cocktail developed by Nate Shuman of Proof and Provision.
Moving on to the gluttony. P’cheen’s new menu is designed for sharing, with a variety of small plates that run the gamut from frog legs to turtle soup. Although I recommended we order only four dishes, it was impossible to narrow it down to so few, especially since LC threw in the Thai grilled chicken wings as our server was walking off. No surprise there.
BB had recommended the grilled octopus but it unfortunately didn’t make the cut. Instead we ordered the coconut curried mussels, baked jumbo lump crab mac ‘n’ cheese, potted duck confit (I insisted), Malaysian steak, sorghum glazed baby carrots, and the previously mentioned wings.
I was hoping a couple of dishes would arrive first, then perhaps a couple more, but everything came out almost at once, covering the surface of our tiny two-top. Coconut curried mussels were reminiscent of chef Devereux’ version at Top Flr, although not as spicy. Malaysian steak was in fact a salad, much like the beef salad I’ve ordered at Surin for years. Baby lettuces, cucumber, shaved onion, and cilantro were topped with a generous portion of thinly sliced steak, cooked medium.
Who can resist baked mac ‘n’ cheese? Neither of us, apparently. I loved the crispy edges of elbow noodles and cheese, finding the subtle bits of crab when I dug deeper into the cheesy goodness. I also can’t resist duck confit. P’cheen serves the pulled meat in a bit of light broth in a tiny Mason jar. Thick slices of grilled sourdough provided the crunchy vehicle for the duck, perfectly paired with a sweet and sour cherry chutney.
The Thai grilled chicken wings, a surviving dish from the original menu, were glazed with a spicy sauce then charred until crisp. LC would have been happy with a dozen of these and nothing else, except maybe the moonshine. However, it was his idea to order the carrots…we needed a veggie, right? Whole baby carrots in every shade of orange, yellow, and even purple, turned out to be one of my favorite dishes of the evening.
As we were licking the remnants from each plate, we noticed a bicycle parade passing in front of the restaurant, some riders with brightly colored afro wigs bobbing as they passed. Our car would not be retrievable from valet just yet (yes, thankfully there is valet!), so we ordered a couple of shots of moonshine, this time choosing vanilla bean infused. Smooth dessert.
Myers was spinning at the DJ booth in the back as we left, waving goodbye to him and the new and improved P’cheen.
701-5 Highland Avenue 404-529-8800