I’ve eaten some truly magnificent meals in my life. One was on a trip to Holland, at a tiny place in Delft, where the lunches had been cited in Bon Appetit. It was a simple meal of fried chicken and potato salad, which were delicious, but it was the meal's start and finish that blew me away (cranberry pate and homemade ice cream and sorbet: plum and grape.) Another meal was in a restaurant in San Francisco, where the Dover sole I ate inspired me to sing. In New Orleans one year I ate blackened tuna at K-Paul's that had me seriously consider relocation.
And now, a new dinner for the list, in Massachusetts. My friends Ann and Janina invited me to come to dinner in Worcester, where Ann’s daughter Chris is working at a new restaurant called Deadhorse Hill. If you want to have an exquisite farm to table meal, in a casual, fun atmosphere, you need to eat here. This was a meal I will treasure forever.
Ann and I arrived slightly before Janina, so Chris recommended drinks. She knows her mother’s palate well, so she recommended Angel Eyes, for Ann, which was gin and citrus, and I asked her what to recommend. I told her that I was also a gin drinker, and I was thinking of the ‘Corpse Reviver' and she nodded enthusiastically. The 'Corpse Reviver' contains gin, lillet, and absinthe.
Janina joined us, and she joined me in a Corpse Reviver. After a couple of sips, the party had begun.
First we had to decide what to order, Deadhorse Hill has small and large plates, which they recommend you share. While we were looking at the menu, sipping our cocktails, Chris brought us some bread, which was homemade brioche, with homemade butter which had a little cracked pepper and sea salt in it. It was warm and rich and the perfect accompaniment to our cocktails.
We had decided on some small plates: sugar snap peas with fermented soy sauce and fresh horseradish; Memphis ribs with DeadHorse Hill's homemade pickles and red cabbage; baby turnips; and a plate of their house pickled vegetables which included strawberries, garlic scapes, and asparagus.
The sweetness of the sugar snap peas against the salty soy with the punch of horesradish was divine. The ribs were unbelievably tender and melted off the bone. They were seasoned with a great dry rub and totally satisfied. The pickles and the purple cabbage which accompanied them were incredibly good. If Deadhorse decides to sell their pickles, I will buy a case.
The baby turnips were luscious and earthy and I've never had a bowl of pickled vegetables that were so full of flavor. The sharp and garlicky scapes, the sweet strawberries, and the crunchy asparagus were
For the large plate, we ordered the spaghetti and meatballs. We also got the aged duck breast and bucatini with rock shrimp. (We didn't order all of this, the chef just kept it coming.)
I was looking forward to the spaghetti and meatballs, which were amazingly good, and I was wondering if I could talk Janina and Ann into giving me the fourth meatball, because I am not, and never have been, a duck eater. Until now.
Deadhorse Hill's aged duck breast large plate was a revelation to me. Frankly, I've never eaten anything so delicious in my entire life. The dish is made totally of duck: a terrine of duck legs on the bottom and the duck breast and skin on top. It's served with a creme fraiche sauce and pea shoots and mustard spaetzle, those tiny german dumplings.
How do I describe something that delicious? The duck was tender and flavorful and the skin on top was crisp and flavorful. The pea shoots were sweet and the mustard spaetzle was light and aromatic. The creme fraiche tied it together.
After that, I gave up all claims to anything else and just grooved on eating that duck. It was a fabulous experience.
And there was still the bucatini and rock shrimp. The pasta (all handmade) was al dente and was covered in this lemony-garlic-butter sauce that made the shrimp heavenly. I enjoyed it, even though I was amazed I could eat another bite, after everything else.
After that, we really were not going to order dessert, but we decided that a meal like that could not end without dessert. We ordered a dessert whose name I cannot remember. It had a layered brioche-like sweet dough around espresson ice cream and was served with vanilla nd chocolate sauce. It was truly delicious, as was the complimentary strawberry panna cotta that the chef sent out.
I've never understood the fuss about panna cotta. It's a pudding, really. I understand the fuss now: this panna cotta was infused with the flavor of fresh strawberries and I think there was some balsamic vinegar there as well. It was topped with something delightfully crunchy with a touch of black pepper.
Along with the food and drink, this restaurant has the happiest servers and bus people I've ever encountered. It is clear that they are all committed to making this a wonderful dining experience, and that they love their work.
You need to make a reservation at Deadhorse Hill now. Soon you won't be able to get reservations.
Response: new year 2017 wishes for friends