Dan and I had our second Dinner Lab meal recently, themed Nashtoberfest and featuring the amazing guys behind Porter Road Butcher, James Peisker and Chris Carter. While they're known in town for their delicious, sustainable, locally-sourced meats, they really have a lot of culinary experience between them... which is one reason we signed up for this meal! The space for this meal was Impact Hub Nashville.
Dinner Lab kicks off with a welcome drink, and that night's cocktail was a Pumpkin Old-Fashioned. Meh. Despite my love for pumpkin pie, I'm not a fan of everything being pumpkin-ized. Dan had the drink and wasn't a fan, as he really prefers a traditional Old Fashioned. There was good, imported German beer available though, which was appropriate (and paired) with the meal!
The idea behind Nashtoberfest as a theme was taking traditional and familiar Oktoberfest flavors and gussying them up (chefs' words). All the meats are "sourced with thought", and several courses had beer pairings from Weihenstephaner, one of the world's oldest breweries.
We kicked off the meal with a Pretzel Consomme, garlic & parmesan panna cotta, mustard greens & vinaigrette, and bacon lardons. The panna cotta was a bit bland, but the consomme was flavorful. The broth itself was Dan's favorite part. We both loved the crunchy bacon lardons! Our second course was Roasted Brussels Sprouts with brusselkraut, carrot puree, caraway crackers, and chives. I'm not a fan of green stuff, so Dan helped me finish mine, and it got his approval. (Wasn't I just saying in a recent restaurant recap that everyone in Nashville is all over Brussels Sprouts lately?)
The third course was a palette cleaners, an Apple Cider Vinegar & Celery Sorbet. Wowza! While I don't like celery, this sorbet was perfectly cold, had a great consistency, and zinged your palette clean. It was really good! But our fourth course, the main course, was my absolute favorite. There was Seared Duck Breast, smoked duck bratwurst, spaetzle, braised red cabbage, and hunter sauce. I loved the crispy outside of the tender duck breast, though Dan preferred the bratwurst. I also ate every little bit of spaetzle that I could! Yum yum yum.
The fifth course had a pastry theme: Cloth Bound Cheddar Gougeres, which were topped with pickled apple and beer mustard. I would have preferred the gougere be served warm, though it still had a great cheesy flavor. It was kind of like an amazing grown-up Goldfish cracker turned into a pastry. In a good way!
For our sixth and final course, we had dessert. Flourless Chocolate Cake, buttermilk pecan anglaise, beer glazed coconut, and pickled spiced cherry. EVERYTHING was good about this. It was scrape-the-plate-clean good. The cherry too! I don't even like coconut, but this was a perfect combo without an overpowering coconut flavor. They NAILED it on dessert.
Much like our previous Dinner Lab experience, we didn't leave feeling overly stuffed. While the price can be steep for these meals, when you factor in how much you are able to taste (and the fact that you don't get to experience these chefs very often), it works out. Plus the bar is always open.
Dinner Lab is currently available in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, DC, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, and St. Louis.