The Culinary Gospel of the Gander
For my birthday, I wanted to celebrate things that are important to me: family, friends, food and festive beverages. I recently had an incredible meal at The Gander and my birthday seemed like the perfect reason to return. I love sharing experiences I enjoy (hence the creation of this site!) with people I care about!
While my best friend Warren and brother wanted to plan the evening for me, they know better than to attempt that. I know EXACTLY what I want (at least better than others do), so they asked me to spearhead the planning. I was impressed by their strategy - the weekend would be grand! Christine, Courtney and Scott joined to round out the evening.
I reached out to The Gander, specifically to the Co-Managers Rick Pitcher and Jordan Lari, to let them know I planned to return with a small group for my birthday dinner. I could not even FATHOM how incredible the evening would be! I don't typically enjoy being surprised...but I'll take phenomenal surprises anytime though!
We arrived a little bit before our reservation and the 5-star service started immediately. We enjoyed a round of Gander Smashes (a white rye whiskey cocktail made with fresh summer peaches, mint, lemon, and peach bitters). This set a fun tone for the rest of the night!
We got the delicious Parker Rolls - I CONTROLLED myself and only had one. I just knew there would be too much yummy food coming!
Jordan came by our table and chatted with my party about our preferences. He suggested a Tasting Menu with a Wine Pairing - we were all game! Fortunately, no one had any food restrictions (poor Aish, the loyal vegetarian, was stuck uptown in crutches) - we were eager to eat anything that came our way from the talented chef Jesse Schenker! Bring on the meat, dairy, gluten and carbs...we were READY TO GO!
Given my fondness of them last time, Jordan sent over an order of Brisket Tots. They are a yummy nibble to start the meal with - moist nuggets of tender brisket with cheese in the middle. CHEESE! Need I say more?
Next came the appetizers from the sea: the Spot Prawn Crudo and and Sea Trout Tartare. Both dishes were a study of contrasts - the delicateness of each seafood was balanced with the accompaniments. The tartare is a real knock-out and must be ordered! This course was paired with a bright white wine - I don't recall the varietal (too focused on the food!) but I do recall enjoying it. Note: this would be a trend throughout the evening.
The Chilled Corn Soup aka the Luxury Liquid was sinfully delicious! A perfectly seared piece of Foie Gras sat on top of a beautiful lake of corniness - it tasted as if it were cream but the richness came from the corn's milk (Yes: you can milk corn - turns out you don't need a nipple...love Ben Stiller!). This dish could have been too rich; the size of the Foie Gras was JUST right. I felt like Goldilocks!
Next, we got two pasta dishes. The Spaghetti & Clams and Tubetti. Last time, I ordered the Tubetti and absolutely LOVED it! It is a fresh take on a classic pasta dish and it delivered again. The Spaghetti & Clams though? EVEN BETTER! Jordan came by to check on the table and in passing he mentioned that the clams used include Geoduck (an incredibly long and very phallic clam) and Razor Shell (a scary sounding clam). Typically, this dish is served with littleneck clams - these clams were so much tastier! Clearly, by this time, we had enjoyed several other wines - my bad for not recording them. It is a balance between documenting / experiencing the meal!
The Pièce de résistance was the PORCHETTA! All hail the mighty pig. It was beautifully presented and we were ready to unwrap this meaty present! If you're not familiar with this preparation, it is a rich (aka full of flavorful fat), savory, and super MOIST boneless pork roast.
Our server brought it back from the kitchen, where it was carved for the table, and poured a sauce over it. IT WAS A MAGIC SAUCE full of porky flavor!
Can you even handle this? My mouth is watering and I want more NOW!
Sometimes...in my documentation of the evening, I forget to take photos of my dining companions. I managed to take one photo of Courtney (a close friend) and Tim (my awesome older brother).
The red wine paired with the Porchetta was delicious! I took a photo because I want to purchase it and you will too!
Check out all of these glasses - so much fun was had!
Jordan asked if we wanted a cheese course. I am a huge dessert person and wanted to enjoy that, so we politely passed. He paired the dessert with an incredibly interesting peaty craft beer - it reminded me of Lagavulin Scotch.
Out of all the desserts, I loved the reinterpretation of the Egg Cream (below) the best. The mouth feel reminded me of a fizzy egg cream and the chocolate was a wonderful contrast. This is a unique dessert that demands your attention!
The decorative fennel on top of the Black Forest dessert was a whimsical touch. I'm not the biggest fan of cherries but I could appreciate the flavors of the dish. I didn't have to worry about not loving it because the rest of the table DEVOURED it!
I loved the petite chocolate cake with the candle - no birthday is complete without making a wish (or two) right? I thought long and hard about my wish and then blew with all the luck I could muster!
I am such a fan girl of the food and beverage industry. Much like people adore Kim Kardashian (why?), I adore and greatly admire chefs, bartenders, servers, owners and managers. It takes a lot to survive in this cut throat business but so much more to excel. Put simply, The Gander SOARS.
I've only interacted with Jordan twice and I know this is the beginning of an incredible future of culinary experiences and personal interactions. He is a master of his craft and one hell of a Sommelier.
When we were ready to pay for our meal, I asked our server to divide the check a certain way. It takes a lot to shock me and I was SHOCKED when Jordan came by the table to say the entire evening was taken care of....by The Gander. Wait..WHAT? I could not (and still cannot) believe the generosity of The Gander. The Co-Managers, Servers, Bartenders and Chef are incredibly talented and I am forever thankful for their hospitality. I will continue to spread the gospel of The Gander, it is everything elevated dining should aspire to be. Happy Birthday to me!