On Friday I was invited to a dinner with some fellow NYC Dawgs and members of the Alumni Association. We went to Birds & Bubbles as the chef and owner is a UGA grad and former NYC Dawgs prez. Before she stepped down to focus more on being the absurdly talented New York chef she is, she helped get me involved in the organization. For that, I thank her. But I think I thank her more for her fried chicken and champagne, for that is truly a service to all of New York City.
Our meal consisted of five courses, served family style. The appetizer course featured shrimp rillete, deviled eggs, pimento cheese croquettes, bitter green salad, and kale and kabocha salad. My favorite was the shrimp rillete. It was light with just enough sherry, and was the perfect spread for the oversized black pepper crackers. I also loved the deviled egg sauce on the the bitter green salad. Most everything we ate was comfort food I’m familiar with, but the kale and kabocha salad provided the seasonal realilty check I needed to remind me that this may be Southern food, but it’s elevated and fresh Southern food.
Course #2 was a rich gumbo with sausage and some pickled okra on top. It was hearty and a little spicy. This course signified that we would be entering the heavy portion of the evening. Bring it on. The third course was crawfish etouffee and steak bavette. The etouffee was perfect and served atop extra creamy grits. The fourth course was the fried chicken we were waiting for. It was was buttermilk fried and not overly breaded. It came with a bread basket and a million sides. There was a jalapeno grit casserole, a vidalia onion casserole that I could eat with every meal for the rest of time, crispy potatoes, green beans, apple slaw, and mac and cheese that was creamy but not to the point of missing the pasta and was topped with a biscuit gremolata that was kind of genius.
Finally, we had about six desserts. Since everything was full size I couldn’t take more than bite or two so I had to choose wisely. The corn pudding had a fresh raspberry topping that was a nice tart counterpart for the sweet corn. The winner, however, was the banana pudding. I actually preferred this version of banana pudding to Magnolia’s. This is ridiculously high praise. I’m not a whipped cream fan so the fact that they replaced it with meringue took the dessert to a new, heavenly level.