So I have been Private Cheffing all day for over 12 hours executing Executive Meal Prep for one of my local high end clients. It was late and had been a long day, and I defiantly didn’t want to cook for myself. It is 9:30pm in Springfield Missouri, I ask myself, where am I going to eat this time of the night on a Thursday?
It was cold outside and I wanted a warm atmosphere. Then it strikes me like lightening struck the Clock Tower. (if your not old enough to get this joke, watch “Back To The Future” it will be good for your developing mind 🙂
I remember that my good buddies Dillon Fox & Jimmy Rollins opened a new Jazz Club downtown, & most importantly, I remember they serve food till late into the night. I pull up and get lucky and find a parking spot not too far away from the front door. It is cold and drizzly so I dart across the street and make my way into this 1920’s style Retro Chic Jazz Club.
The lighting is dim (which I love in a late night spot), the place is busy with clients, and the Jazz Trio is jiving. There is a table right up front for 1 and I sit myself right down. I absolutely love live entertainment, and Live Jazz is about as high as you can get on my happy scale.
The server comes up with an empty glass and a pitcher of water, water with no ice in it. I am in love already!!! I really appreciate good tasting water and with the offering of no ice, win and win! I prefer to drink water without ice, it is much more refreshing and helps me drink more of it and lets all admit we could all use a little more water in our lives.
I am hungry, but not too hungry so I start to thumb through the menu. It is very well laid out, simple and to the point on all aspects from Beer that is only $2.50 (not what I would expect at a high end Jazz Bar, but they are catering to their area, and who their people are and I respect that. I also love in their Manifesto it states: “We are here to make you believe in our industry” I absolutely love that, and feel that when I walk in.
I order Pierogies with Potato & Beet Dumplings, Onion Gravy, Fried Cabbage & Mushrooms. It was plated beautifully and was the perfect temperature when served. This dish was $12.00 and I felt it was a great deal for what you get, and especially for the time of evening that it was. (it was about 10pm at this point) Do not think your typical bar food, this is much more elevated and executed with grace from Chef Dustin Fox who happens to also be Dylan Fox’s brother. I paired this with a Katas Tempranillo Wine that was $7 a glass and it was so juicy and exactly what I was expecting. You can get a decent Tempranillo from Spain for a reasonable amount per bottle $12-24 and you get a lot more bang for your buck. These grapes are so juicy because of the hot climate in which they are grown, it gives a special flavor only the Tempranillo Variety can achieve.
My only critique on the Pierogies filled with Pureed Beet & Potato, I would have seasoned the filling a little more, as well as the pastry shell. Don’t get me wrong, this was an amazing dish and prepared very classically but I would have liked a little more seasoning. Just a touch of Sea Salt would have thrown this dish to new heights. The gravy was perfectly executed and the Fried Cabbage was cooked for the perfect amount of time to not make too mushy or too crunchy, a perfect in between texture. I was also very impressed with the presentation, I highly recommend this dish.
I was really craving a bold glass of red, I wouldn’t recommend the pairing with this course, but this was my main dish and I am a sucker for a Tempranillo. I would recommend you have Dylan Fox make you an extraordinary mixed drink that he does so well. I remember the first time I ever had a real Daiquiri (and keep in mind I am a sailor that has sailed through the islands for over 10 years) and it was with Mixologist Dylan Fox at “Barley Wheat & Rye” a posh Whisky Bar that was on the South side of town. If you have never had a “Real Daiquiri” I think you should rush to The Hepcat Downtown Springfield Missouri and get one right now! It is so simple and so delicious: Rum, Lime Juice, and Sugar. When done right it is a game changer to add to your arsenal of go-to cocktails. I recommend you pair a classic Daiquiri with this dish, would be devine.
As I am noshing on my Pierogies (which I am bypassing the fork and eating them by hand because I am enjoying them so much) I don’t know if this is allowed or if I am being cool enough, but they are so good, I really don’t care. As I sip on my Tempranillo, I remember thinking to myself that this is the good life. The sound of smooth Jazz flowing through the nights air, and I am sitting so close I can feel the wind come in and out of the instruments. I close my eyes and think to myself, this is truly “Viben” right here………and I am so digging it. So if you want a vibe like no other, please come check out this hip Jazz Club downtown.
The “Fortified Wines” section catches my eye with the offerings of a Tawny Pork, Multiples of Sherries, (Dylan is a big fan of Sherries) Ruby Port & a Madeira. I approach the bar and ask the legend himself “Dylan Fox” what he would pair with the Vanilla Cheese Cake what came with a J. Reiner Whisky Caramel Sauce. He takes a moment to think and then says “Amontillado Sherry”. I ask him what made him choose that, he replies that it is his favorite Sherry, that is why. (good answer, I think to myself)
So I place the order for Dylan’s Favorite Amontillado Sherry, and the “Something Cheesecake” which happens to be “Vanilla Cheesecake, Cranberry Sauce, Whipped Cream & J. Reiner Whisky Caramel Sauce. They should have changed the name to Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake because that was defiantly the star of the show!!! It literally melted in your mouth and you could taste the butter, the bursts of the sugared crunch and the graham just all mixing and melting together in my mouth making the most amazing magic.
I wanted to go ask the chef if he could save me all the scraps of the day that fall off the cheese cake and put them in a bowl and I would be by nightly to pick up my flakes of sweet, sweet culinary bliss. The cheesecake was spot on and nice and light, and not to heavy like some cheesecakes can be. I wouldn’t traditionally order a Cranberry Topping but this was close to Thanksgiving so it fit the theme perfectly. The chef left the cranberries in chunks which I liked and must have cooked them with sugar absorbing most of that bitter power pack that you can some time get from fresh cranberries. These were cooked perfectly, light and bright with a nice sweet undertone. They also whipped their own Sweetened Cream and appreciate that as well. It could have been a little fluffier if you are going to call it Whipped Cream. I recommend getting a “Professional Whipped Cream Dispenser” that uses Co2 Cartridges, you can use real cream and it is real fast and easy to store in fridge. Or just change the name to “Cream Sauce” it was super good!!!
Now lets get to the seduction part of this dish, the J. Reiner Whisky Caramel Sauce. This sauce was cooked down flawlessly and I was so blown away with the after bite. It is that kind of caramel sauce that is almost burnt but isn’t, do you know what I am talking about???? You could feel the texture of the grit and burn, even though it was not there at all, it gives the feel in your mind. This to me was perfectly cooked down Caramel Sauce and it takes balls to do what this chef did. Caramel Sauce can burn so fast when you take it to this level, but if done right, with the perfect technique of cooking, it will come out magnificent. This my food loving friend was cooked magnificently. Chef Fox, please don’t loose your passion for this Sauce, I am coming back for more 😉
I taste it with my sherry and it is a match made in the stars. When I come back in I will pair it with the 10 Year Tawny Port, but that is just because I love a good aged Tawny like I love breathing fresh air. I don’t always order it, but when I do, I like for it to be in an environment like this.
After the meal I make my way back into the kitchen to tell Chef Dustin Fox that his Caramel Sauce sent me into a happy place, a happy place I needed to visit and now am reborn into a better person because of it. Don’t you just love when food can do that to you? For me it resets a clock in my body that lets me be stress free again. It lets me forget about all the problems of the world, lets me forget about any stress that might be on my mind. Takes me to that happy place that only an experience, the perfect smell in the air, the talents of a talented chef and the knowledge of a drink specialist.
If you want to enter that realm, and leave regular day life behind for a short moment in time, the enter “The Hepcat” and let that Vibe take you to that place you need to be.
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By Chef Paul Allen “Pauly”