Executive Chef Howard McCall Jr. was recently elevated to Executive Chef with the departure of Chef Falco. I was invited to meet the chef and sample some of his new additions to the menu.
The first was the Short Rib. The slowly braised rib was tender and succulent; and when paired with the spicy onions created a spicy-earthy combination. The onions were soft, but be prepared for a little spiciness from the onion jam, while the sauce was a wonderful and rich offset to the spicy onions.
Chef Howard took great care in allowing the rich flavors of the prime beef to stand out in the Steak Tartare. The scant inclusion of the shallots was perfect and when combined with the truffle vinaigrette was outstanding. Make a divot in the beef and add the quail egg and combine to create an even richer experience.
Not to be outdone by the tartare, the Mac + Cheese is the creamiest I have tasted in quite some time. Chef Howard chose orecchiette to deliver his four cheese (White Cheddar, Yellow Cheddar, Asiago and American) mixture in each bite. The texture was velvety and then the crunchy bacon-breadcrumbs kicked in. This may be the standard for other Mac + Cheeses in the area.
The last Small Plate I sampled was the American Soul Rolls that combined sausage, broccoli rabe, mashed potatoes served a la egg roll. I could probably enjoy the Soul Rolls accompanied by a beer at the bar but thought there were too many elements competing in the dish
The Braised Lamb Shank was served nestled in polenta, crispy Brussels sprouts and topped with rich gravy and a few onion rings. The large shank was perfectly braised and the Brussels sprouts were fantastic, crispy and sweet. The polenta was creamy and mild.
The SONO Fried Chicken was an enormous half chicken served with its traditional accompaniments, mashed potato and gravy, plus braised greens. The sides were fantastic., but the two enormous pieces of chicken were disappointing. As much as I loved the sides, the chicken was not to my liking.
Chef Howard’s cuisine is Southern comfort with a modern twist. He has a delicate touch that allows the main ingredient to maintain the focus of the dish with accompaniments that enhance the flavors.
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