Wednesday, November 2, 2011

300seats Pop-Up Restaurant with the Edible Event

If you haven't noticed for some reason, culinary events are kind of my thing.  That's why when Manny Valencia and Andrea Fontenot told me that their startup 300seats was going to host a pop-up restaurant in Baton Rouge, I knew I had to be a part of it.  I had the fortune of helping out early in the planning process and then, more importantly, the pleasure of enjoying the opening night dinner!  The Edible Event, a local catering company under the same umbrella as Boudreaux and Thibideaux's and Serrano's Salsa Company, served as chefs for the event.  Fellow food blogger Jeremy Wells joined me for the dinner.

A pop-up restaurant is an emerging trend in the food world.  The premise is to convert a space into a temporary restaurant where a chef can be experimental for a short time period and then move on to their next thing without the risk of a full restaurant startup.  While it certainly isn't the easiest thing to pull off, it is quite an extraordinary dining experience when it all comes together.  

Our meal at the 300seats pop-up restaurant in a vacant restaurant space in Perkins Rowe began with some adult beverages.  I immediately grabbed a can of Tin Roof's Perfect Tin Amber Ale.  Being a Baton Rouge brewery, I was happy to see them help sponsor the beer for the event.  And if you haven't had a Tin Roof beer out of a can yet, I suggest you try it!  Adding to that, each course beautifully paired with a different wine to keep our boozing options varied and plentiful.

The first course from The Edible Event featured a delightful tray of fresh fruits, meats and cheeses.  The sliced pecan plank held Aged Manchango, Drunken Goat, Azores Flores, Goat Cheese Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, Membrillo Jelly, Spanish Chorizo, Serrano Ham, Pears and Champagne Grapes.  The latin-influenced platter warmed up my taste buds.  Of special note were the chorizo, pears and stuffed peppers.

Course two brought out my favorite dish of the night because of the surprising flavors and spices that were bold and delicious.  Sticking with the Latin American theme of the evening, the soup course featured a chilled avocado soup with lobster ceviche.  The intense heat from the ceviche peppers and spices combined with the cool and creamy texture from the pureed avocados worked in harmony in my mouth.  Combine that with the acidic citrus juices which cooked the tender lobster and we had a dish that impressed, pleased and evoked conversation around the dining room.

Our salad also had a scrumptious twist.  The fried softshell buster crab salad boasted chorizo, candied pecans and a spicy buttermilk dressing.  The buttermilk and crab worked very well and the differing textures added extra pizzaz to the dish.  I loved the way the sweetness of the pecans played against the spiciness of the dressing and chorizo.  All in all the salad worked really well and got me ready for the main course.

Portobello and Fontina cheese ravioli topped by a ragu of braised beef cheeks and fire roasted tomatoes covered our entree plate.  The beef cheeks oozed of succulence with every bite as the tender braised meat melted in my mouth.  The ravioli combined the flavors of the pasta, cheese and mushrooms along side the tempranillo wine braising liquid sauce and sauteed spinach.  Each mouthful delighted the guests and we knew that this pop-up restaurant dinner was something special for Baton Rouge and the Edible Event team sure knew how to cook!

The course ended with chocolate-espresso pot de creme with toasted coconut and whipped cream.  While I didn't get even one hint of coconut, the chocolate and espresso were very well pronounced and the dessert's texture was silky on the tongue.  I could eaten three of four if they had let me.  Combined with a nice cup of gourmet coffee from A Coffee Truck, this dessert, and entire meal, wrapped up very nicely.

Congrats to Manny, Andrea and the team on such a successful pop-up restaurant and thanks for brining an event like this to Baton Rouge.  Also congrats to Celeste Landry, Sean Malone and the team at The Edible Event for putting together such an amazing meal for the guests.  I'm pretty sure that everyone left  with full stomachs and smiles on their faces!

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