Soft Shells, Gunthorp Farms Chops, Carolina Bluefish

That’s what we’re cooking up for you all this weekend, in addition to our regular offerings. Plus, The Green City Market is getting into full swing, meaning we should have an ever-more interesting array of fresh vegetables to either star on their own or accompany our other specials.

Soft Shell Crabs are one of those love-it-or-hate-it seafood delicacies. I love them, they’re one of my favorite seasonal treats from the ocean! Many people can’t get past the fact that they’re eating the whole thing, and that’s fine with me, because then there’s more for the rest of us who love them. Soft shell crabs are so expensive because there is such a short window of time after molting to capture them and get them off to market. Every so often, crabs outgrow their shells, and need to molt their current shell in order to grow a new, larger shell. Once this molting has taken place, there’s only about four hours before their shell becomes too hard to be perfectly palatable. Some will still serve the slightly tougher shell (most often seen at sushi restaurants in inexpensive rolls) or use frozen ones year-round. Not us. Ours are flown in from the Chesapeake Bay after we pre-order them a week in advance to ensure our share of the catch. We’re giving them the traditional pan-fry treatment, and serving them in pairs with cornbread stuffing, roasted tomatoes, and tarragon aioli. This plate is a steal at $24. They’ll go fast! Then, we’ll get more in next week.

Our regulars won’t let us take a break from the Deviled Gunthorp Farms pork chop ($25) we’ve been doing since opening weekend. These are big, beautiful chops which we saute with a devil sauce – comprised of shallots, pickles, worcestershire, and a little mustard. The pickles and worcestershire are made in-house, so this is a devil sauce you won’t find anywhere else – The pickles give it planty of tang, while the worcestershire and shallots ensure the umami is there. Gunthorp is a model of sustainable agriculture, and we can’t wait to get out there so you can meet the Gunthorps and their animals. The trip is on our calendar, and we’ll report back when we’re back!

Being a Southern Restaurant and all presents some unique challenges when we’re located in the upper Midwest, trying to find the best regional culinary prizes when we’re nearly 1,000 miles away. Fortunately, our fishmonger, The Plitt Company, does all of the fishin’ work for us. We have georgeous North Carolina Bluefish that we are searing, and serving with wild mushroom bread pudding, garlic kale, and tasso-olive vinaigrette ($21.) It does make for a little bit of low country-bayou country crossover, but the rich tasso (house-cured and smoked!) and olives with a touch of cider vinegar both compliment and cut through the rich oiliness of the bluefish. Bluefish are comparable to salmon or mackerel for their oil content, so the flavor is rich, and it’s gotta be super-fresh, or it’ll taste like leftover fish. Plitt flies it in for us, so no worries about that here. Oh, and all those omega 3-s are good for you, too.

Stay tuned for next week, we see rhubarb, asparagus, green garlic, and some other prizes on the way…