The Columbus Underground meet up at Details tonight reminded me that I still haven’t posted about the Details Experience I had earlier this month. Details has been a go to place this year with its enticing combination of classic and innovative cocktails, excellent ‘bar’ food and the opportunity to chat to the engaging Chef Drew Garms. CMH Gourmand has an extensive review of Details including many of the bar items and cocktails.
I had been wanting to do the ‘Details Experience’ (a $55 tasting menu) since my friends raved about it over New Year, but kept putting it off until Chef Drew’s impending departure moved it from wish list to ‘to do’ list. I had heard so much about the ‘Details Experience’ that I was worried that it could not possibly live up to my expectations but my fears were unfounded and it was phenomenal. Here is a blow by blow account of our ten course meal. I did not take notes and time hasn’t helped my memory so some of the details are hazy, hopefully the photos will speak for themselves.
Each Details Experience is designed for 6 people and you sit at a counter watching the chefs put the finishing touches to your food. As we assembled at the bar we were greeted with a luxurious cocktail of Brachetto, Campari and berry infused vodka garnished with a sliver of orange rind.
Our first nibble was Drew’s wonderful pork rinds (quite unlike any port rinds I have come across before) dusted with dehydrated powdered hot sauce, and some wasabi peas. The pork rinds are light as air and literally crackle as you pop them into your mouth. Our second drink was another cocktail, a pink lemonade with basil infused vodka, basil and beautifully colored with hibiscus syrup.
Chef Drew likes his gadgets and next up was a chance for him to show off the anti-griddle: caramelized foie gras. The foie gras is rapidly frozen on the anti griddle, sprinkled with sugar and then blasted with a blow torch creme brûlée style. Producing an amazing taste and texture sensation, rich and creamy and crunchy with a caramelized sweetness. It was perfectly paired with one of the draft Belgian beers Bierbrouwerijde Koningshoeven.
The next course was probably my favorite, although picking a favorite from such a menu is almost ridiculous. This was Drew’s take on eggs in a blanket, in this case a 55 minute egg cooked sous vide and served in grilled toast with lamb bacon and garnished with chives. The consistency of the egg was different to a regularly poached or boiled egg, with a much lighter and creamier egg white encasing the soft yolk.
This was followed by a surprisingly substantial dish of three bean and spanish chorizo chilli baked with a topping of wild ramp spoonbread. Spoonbread is a savory pudding made with cornmeal, eggs, milk and butter and in this case flavored with wild ramps, from West Virginia. Ramps are sort of a cross between a wild leek and a scallion (spring onion) with an oniony garlicky flavor. The chili is on the regular bar menu, but the spoonbread was a delightful addition.
Tuna Tar Tar tacos are one of my favorite Details regular menu items and they are a perennial feature of the tasting menu. They comprise a crispy shell filled with fresh diced Ahi tuna, avocado, pickled ginger, scallions, sesame oil and citrus juice. Succulent and crispy and packed with flavor, they are extremely satisfying (especially on Tuesdays when they are 3 for $5).
What course are we on? Six I believe, and continuing on the fish theme a Japanese inspired monkfish stew poached sous vide with ankimo (monkfish liver), mushrooms, seaweed and a miso broth. It had a pungent and distinctive flavor but had many fans. Drew told us that he had been inspired to make this dish by Chef Kimura at Kihachi, (his favorite ‘off-duty’ restaurant in Columbus).
By this stage some of our party were already groaning at the sight of more food, but who can resist a mini lamb burger especially when it is accompanied by the most amazing fries and house made smoked ketchup and the lamb is from Elysian Fields. The ‘fries’ are not mere sticks of potato but a labor intensive concoction of mashed potato with beaten egg whites, yolks and butter, so while they look like jenga blocks they are actually phenomenally light and fluffy inside their super crisp shell.
We were plied with Chinato to aid our digestion and we rallied for course number eight. Ginger snap ice cream sandwiches – another highlight for me, as I am a sucker for anything ginger, with a lightly spiced cookie and creamy ice cream.
The penultimate course was manchego cheese which had been vacuum packed (or pressed?) with extra virgin olive oil so that it completely absorbed the oil and gave it both an unusual texture and imbued it with the fragrance of the oil. It was served with a piece of cantaloupe (sprinkled with a few grains of salt to bring out the flavor) and a scoop of refreshing watermelon sorbet.
The meal ended with one of the new menu dessert items, spiced carrot cake with cream cheese ice cream and candied carrots. I found this too sweet and the texture of the cake a little gluey, so for me it was the weakest of the courses. But by this stage I was so full that it hardly mattered.
I’m really glad I was able to enjoy the Details Experience before Chef Drew left Columbus. His new job is Head Chef at a country club in Arkansas and he will certainly be missed. It was a fantastic meal, exceptional value and as usual the experience was enhanced by our interaction with Chef Drew. His attention to detail, passion and willingness to share made the meal both educational and enlightening.