Quality Eats opened on Tuesday and at 10:30 AM on Wednesday, I called to make a reservation for Friday…only to find out that they were already completely booked. “We got some really good press,” the hostess said over the phone. I’ll say. People also knew what I did: that a restaurant with the same great food as Quality Meats and Quality Italian in a cooler neighborhood and a cheaper price point is worth lining up for. We decided to take our chances as walk-ins, and after standing like vultures, we snagged a seat at the bar.
The bar itself was my first inclination that this was going to be a good meal. The food may be coming from the same folks as the Midtown restaurants, but the bar matched the fun, downtown vibe of this branch’s locale:
I had studied the menu in advance and knew that I wanted all apps/sides. The entrées looked great, but there were just too many intriguing small plates for me to even approach that side of the menu. We coursed out our six small plates in two groups. The first group consisted of the mashed potato monkey bread, cacio e pepe orzo, and creamed spinach hush puppies. The monkey bread was very reminiscent of the bread served at Quality Meats and Quality Italian and I was at first upset when I realized I had to pay for it here. But then I tried the bacon butter it came with and was more than happy to pay. If you’re a fan of cacio e pepe, like I am, you should order that as well. It’s nice and creamy with lots of cheese like the standard dish, but the orzo shape makes it much easier to share. But the gold medal of this first round of dishes has to go to the creamed spinach hush puppies (more like fritters). I don’t know how it managed to stay creamy on the inside, but it did. It was kind of like a perfect fried mac and cheese ball but better. Ahh there’s something better than fried mac and cheese?! Oh yes there is. And it comes with a dipping sauce, my weakness.
Round two of dishes was our heavier apps. Here we got the grilled bacon with peanut butter and jalapeno jelly, the steak tartare with bone marrow butter, and the sunchoke gratin. So much goodness. The bacon was like a bacon steak with a sweet and spicy sauce. The tartare had a tangy flavor to it that at first wasn’t my favorite, but worked when paired with the bone marrow butter. Anything would work when paired with bone marrow butter. And finally, those scalloped sunchokes. I honestly have zero clue what a sunchoke is; however, I do know that this was heaven on a plate. It is an absolute menu must.
Side note: good portion size for all these dishes. Our food tab came to $61 (pre-tax/tip), which ain’t bad considering we ordered half the menu and were completely satisfied.
So, yea, I apologize for how dark the pics are. Let’s pretend like I took fabulous photos and just get back to talking about how great the food is. I feel like the chef was smiling when he concepted the menu, just as I was smiling through every bite.