Cotton & Rye

1801 Habersham StSavannah, GA 31401 • (912) 777-6286 • cottonandrye.com
 

Billed as one of the top places to go according to Eater, Wifey and I hit this James Beard nominated, Vault wannabe (also a bank renovation), edge of town location, for their southern-with-a-twist (a la Husk) cuisine. Yes, a lot of sub-references on this one as it seems to be one of those places architected to be a success, right down to its ampersand.

Ampersand aside though, the meal began with a promising start marked by a pair of winners, the grilled Caesar salad and the Ultimate fried chicken wings sauced with honey, chili and sumac to help those babies soar like a mofo!

For entrees, Cotton & Rye stumbled a bit. The pork shoulder tagliatelle was a touch bland and in dire need of salt, pepper and parm. But the far greater disappointment came from the pork chop. Mostly because of the stratospheric recommendation from not one, but two different waiters, claiming unequivocally that this was hands-down the best pig chop in town (mainly predicated on the fact that it was sous vide). Which I suppose should’ve been my red flag, because more often than not it’s been my experience that sous vide is really code for “big disappointment,” chef’s always relying too much on the juices and not enough on the seasoning or accompaniments. Worse still, is that these waiters could not have been more wrong. A FAR superior chop exists less than a mile away at Elizabeth’s on 37th. I even asked the waiters if they had Lizzy’s chop before making such wild assertions, but neither of them had (yet, another red flag).

Dessert boded well though, with an apple crumble bread pudding. Two of my favorite things in one dessert. Kinda hard to fuck that one up.

So a little more work on the main event and I’d agree with Eater, but until then, head to The Grey if you truly want Savannah’s best.

The Ultimate Burrito

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Tres Carnes – New York, NY

It’s hard to imagine that a burrito can be complex, but I assure you the legend is true. And while most wind up tasting like varying degrees of mush all mushed together in different configurations, Tres Carnes manages to create a separation between its painstakingly layered flavors, while also preserving that same mushy harmony you’ve come to know and love in a burrito. So how do they do it, well, for starters, their quac is smoked. So, you get that typical avocado creaminess, but as an added bonus, a hit of smokiness too, which, when paired up with the pork shoulder or brisket only complements the meat. Or instead of just rice, it’s poblano rice, packing a little heat. Yes, nothing is just filler in this puppy. From the chipotle squash to the street cart corn. It’s like mariachi in your mouth, assuming you like mariachi. But don’t discount this as a hoity-toity burrito for city folk, because it ain’t. I’ve eaten in some seriously authentic (aka down and dirty) Mexican haunts in my day and they can kiss Tres Carnes’ delicious buttocks.

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen

1327 Railroad Ave. St. Helena, CA 94574(707) 963-1200cindysbackstreetkitchen.com

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Hearing that this place was the sister restaurant of Mustards, expectations were immediately high. And those expectations only increased by our extremely effusive waiter who hyped up the menu so high, you’d think he was high.

For example, his gushing recommendation of the oysters bingo, which tasted like something you’d expect to be served at a Bat Mitzvah on Long Island. Same goes for the octopus, which was so flavorless it should almost be illegal to serve in a foodie mecca like Napa. In fact, of all the appetizers we had, and we had all of the appetizers, only one managed to rise above ho-hum, the shellfish pot with jalapenos. The polenta fries would’ve been good too, but they serve them dry and they desperately need something to dip them in. So, if you do order them, please ask for the honey mustard that comes with the burgers, it’s got a nice kick to and makes the fries worthy.

And speaking of the burgers, the duck burger was one of only four highs within the meal, served with a shitake mushroom ketchup, it made for a very unique, Asian take on an American classic. The other entrée that was good was the pork shoulder, but it paled in comparison to our waiter’s presell. What worked about it was the moist, savory pork mixed with the sweet caramelized peaches. What didn’t work was that only about 20% of the peaches were cooked. The raw ones were hard and chewy and tasteless. Apart from those, every other entrée at the table was a big whatevs.

Unfortunately the hit/miss ratio didn’t improve on desserts either. Only one is worth getting if you should still choose to dine here. The Campfire Pie tastes like a s’more right out of the sleep-away camp textbook. So A+ good it made the inadequacies of all of the other desserts on the table that much more severe. But if you must get two, go with the fig tart. It’s no campfire, but at least it’s not a complete waste of calories.

Sorry Cindy, but this is literally the worst dinner I’ve had in Napa. But thank you Mister Sommelier, your recommendation of the Hope & Grace Pinot Noir was wonderful. I just wish the rest of the meal lived up to it.

2 teeth

Tres Carnes

688 6th Ave. New York, NY 10010 • (212) 989-8737trescarnes.com

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During the week the line is around the block so I had never tried it before. But during the weekends it’s apparently much easier to get in and get out. So, I took advantage. And now I know why there’s a line around the block all the time.

First, the smell alone when you walk in is so damn good I’d swear I was Pavlov’s dog in another life. And once I saw brisket on the menu- fuggetaboutit!

And by that I mean, it’s UN-forgettable. Easily the best burrito I’ve ever had. And I was a bit worried, because I was like a kid in candy store, putting virtually every ingredient they had into this thing- the street-cart corn, the smoky guac and the chipotle squash. But the preparations of everything are so complex and masterfully layered with depths of flavor that I can’t even begin to describe, other than to say it was like burrito poetry in my mouth.

The pork shoulder is also money. Skip the chicken. But no matter what you choose, it still puts that other fast burrito place to shame. Chipotle you are officially on notice. If you want to keep up with Tres Carnes I suggest you actually go back to the start.

5 teeth