Thursday, October 25, 2012

Two Chefs and a Microphone - Urban Grape

For those of you who have read my post on the new and exciting opening of the South End's very own Urban Grape, you may recall a mention of popups and other events being held in this great space.
Having been open for just under a month in this location, (The Urban Grape has an original space in Chestnut Hill) TJ and Hadley, the power couple behind this wine store, wasted no time in hosting their christening popup dinner. 

On this particular Sunday, the new store was turned into a conceptual popup dinner, 'Two Chefs and  a Microphone'.  As the title suggests, two of Boston's great chefs were on hand for the evening, Chef Michael Scelfo from Russell House Tavern and the two Seths from The Gallows.  They were given a limited list of ingredients and instructed to go head to head in a battle of old school vs. new school (respectively).  
A five course menu was prepared by each and each course was paired with a wine, beer or whiskey decided on by TJ.
Here is what the two chefs came up with: 
The first dish was centered around the 'oyster'.  Team new school (The Gallows) presented an incredible concoction: Oysters 'Kennedy' with spinach, lobster aioli, Irish Whisky and Cape Cod potato Chips. It was paired with a Pinot Blanc from Napa Valley (Robert Foley)
I could have eaten five of these...easily. It was such an incredible combination of flavors and crunch, without being overwhelming.

Chef Michael, representing the old school, presented us with a classic ICO oyster with wood smoked cocktail sauce, brambly bacon and sea bean mignonette.  It was paired with a nice sparkling Gruner from Australia (Punkt).
Although I usually side with the bacon, team new school won this first course.

Before the second course came out, I meandered around the store and grabbed a peak at the chefs in action just by the check out station. Micheal was busy preparing a delicious cheddar biscuit.
 I loved that the dinner was a mingling event and not a rigid sit down affair...this way, you could make your way around the store, check out the many different wines, beers and sakes and best of all, sample their progressive rating scale at their tasting station:)

For the second course, new school prepared a shot of pumpkin chowder with corn, ham and common crackers, paired with a double pumpkin ale from Sam Adams.  I liked the pairing, and the soup was interesting, but I would have preferred more of a pumpkin taste.
Chef Micheal for his part, presented a delicious torched delicata squash with a clothbound cheddar biscuit.  Anything with a biscuit is fine by me and this one did not disappoint. Paired with  a Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris (Alsace), it was a great come back by team old school.
The next course was charcuterie theme; a strength for both restaurants.  The Gallows made a delicious blue fish pate with a fantastic apple-horseradish on brioche toast. This time it was paired with an Ehlers Estate Rose.
Russell House came out with a warm roasted Char belly with bone marrow brioche, red wine and pickled oinion jam. TJ decided to pair this one with what he called an 'industry wine', an Occhipinti 'Il Frappato' Frappoto from Sicily. 
Both courses were surprises there;)

For the main savory course, Chef Micheal presented heaping dishes of duck fat braised pork neck (what a mouthful!) over a bed of herbed white beans and crispy chard was served family-style which made me very happy and I will admit that I went back for seconds...and thirds:)
It was paired with Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso, a red from Italy.
Unfortunately, I was somehow duped out of the savory course from the Gallows...I had my hands on one, put it down for a second and it sneaked away from me. Thankfully, Seth noticed and brought me a special plate of their New England baked beans, which were delicious and smokey:) 

For dessert, Team New School did a play on an apple tart with brick cheese and a tiny scoop of ice cream.  It was a bite-sized perfection and I definitely wanted more. It was paired with a Willet 'Pot Still Reserve' Bourbon Whiskey.  I am not quite at the point where I enjoy such strong drinks...but I can understand the appeal on a cold winter's day.

Chef Micheal presented a testament to the old school with a cheese and apple plate with prune and honey jam.  Again, I could have done with a few helpings of this..I just love, love, love cheese!
Also paired with a Whisky, this time a Scotch Whisky, Glenmorangie from Scotland (aged 12 years).
With such a great concept, team and DJ (yes, there was an evening long mash up between old and new), it is no surprise the evening was a smashing success and a preview of many more exciting things to come.  Sign up for The Urban Grape's newsletter or follow them on twitter for upcoming events:)


  1. Oh my gosh. Everything looks fantastic and what a start to the evening with those delicious oysters.

    I've been hearing about Urban Grape everywhere the past few weeks - beautiful space! Thanks for the write-up, I look forward to checking them out soon.

  2. Absolutely! And yes, you must check them out asap:)