Monday, March 20, 2006

Cookshop: Nicole's Redemption

After the Pastis experience, Nicole felt that she owed me. Honestly, I wasn't holding her personally responsible for the change in kitchen staff, but if she wanted to try again, who was I to stop her? And I wanted to go to Cookshop.

Well, actually I wanted to go to the champagne bar at Country, but we got our proverbial wires crossed and ended up with a reservation for four at Cookshop. Thank God we did, because Cookshop was phenomenal.

Cookshop serves hearty American food that is comforting, if not comfort food in the traditional sense. On the menu, right next to the obligatory half-chicken and salmon dishes are also roast suckling pig and squab. Upon our waiter’s suggestion, I ordered the roast pig only to have to re-order a few minutes later when he came back and told me they were out. Obviously, I was a little disappointed but decided to fulfill my pork fantasy anyway by ordering the pork chop, which came with a sausage link on the side.

Both Becky and Heather (Nicole's friends) ordered the NY strip, and Nicole ordered the short ribs with cheesy grits. We were all extremely satisfied: the short ribs were tender and “falling-off-the-bone” and the steak was well-prepared. The pork was large and moist (wow, that sounds dirty) and I was only mildly annoyed that a piece of gristly fat hadn't been removed prior to serving. I was content. Until I tasted Becky's creamed collard greens.

Nicole has this whole theory of "food envy" that I've come to adopt. When ordering her meal(s), Nicole explains that she wants the absolute best meal on the menu. Some people want what they want, whether it be fish or filet, whether it be the specialty of the house or not, and order accordingly. Nicole wants the best food the kitchen can provide. At no point in the meal does she want to look over at another diner and think, "I wish I'd ordered that."

My pork was good. But it was NOTHING in comparison to Becky's side of creamed collard greens. I had food envy. Besides the fact that it was served in an adorable mini square cast-iron skillet, it tasted've almost got it...Velveeta. Green, leafy, creamy, fattening, Velveeta-enhanced well-seasoned mushy vegetation. I know I'm not selling it well, but I don't care, because the less people that order it, the more for me. The waiter had to wait till I turned away to pull the skillet out from under my hovering fork.

To order anything else would be wrong.

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