Boystown siblings Replay and Elixir may be newbies to the Andersonville bar and restaurant scene but they're already making their presence known. They just opened their second locations a couple of weeks ago and they've already got a sold-out pairing dinner under their belts.
September was National Bourbon Heritage Month, and to celebrate Replay closed out the month with an Angel's Envy Bourbon Dinner in the Elixir lounge. Chefs Bernardo Ibarra & Steve Farbstein created a bourbon-inspired menu and paired it with cocktails created by mixologist Vlad Novikov.
The four course menu showcased the chefs' creativity and locally-sourced cuisine. Chef Steve announced each course and would inform the packed house which ingredients came from which farm. Vlad "I'm the bartender" (and adorable!) shared his cocktail creations as they were delivered. Each drink capitalized on the strenghts of Angel's Envy, of which there are many, without masking the flavors of the delicious bourbon.
The dinner began with a gazpacho made with heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, mint oil, and feta. The watermelon and mint oil were interesting counterparts to the tomato and made for a complex and satisfying soup. This was paired with a Whetstone, a rocks cocktail made with Angel's Envy, Hard Apple Cider, lemon juice, and honey.
Our second course was pork belly. Now, I know I could stop right there and, unless you're a vegetarian, that would be enough. However, this particular pork belly was crspy and served with a soy miso glaze, fresh peach and grape chutney, scallions, and togarashi spice. Like the soup, this intriguing combination of flavors made for an unusual and memorable course. I'm proud to say that I refrained from licking the plate.
The second cocktail of the evening was also memorable. The nose smelled like lemonheads - a rich, sweet, lemon scent that just about has your teeth aching from the sugar memory. The drink tasted nothing like the hard candy, though. Instead, the Decadence was a surprisingly smooth combination of Angel's Envy, Rare Tea Cellar's Magnolia Oolong Shrub, and Chardonnay. This is not a drink I would have ordered off the menu, but it is one I'll order now.
The entree was a beautiful, juicy, flaky piece of Skuna Bay salmon served over squash succotash, corn nage, and crispy shoestring potatoes. This was another example of chefs use of contrasting flavors and textures that, combined, created a unique profile that was delicious. The paired drink was my favorite of the evening: an Old Fashioned Envy, made with a port-ginger syrup that practically sent me over the moon. It was tempered with Bitter Queens Tobacco Bitters and orange.
Our final course was the biggest cheesecake I've ever seen, served in a crock you might expect to contain a heaping tureen of French Onion Soup. Chef Steve told us he was the most nervous about this dish because he and Bernardo are not pastry chefs. They may be now. They used goat cheese in the cheesecake and served it with bourbon peaches and brown butter caramel on a traditional graham cracker crust. Its accompaniment was a potent concoction of Angel's Envy, Benedictine, and coffee - an ABC, if you will.
The night was an amazing success, and everyone from the gregarious Vlad to the humble Steve was gracious and happy to be there.
So were we.
Replay Beer and Bourbon and Elixir will be hosting bourbon dinners monthly and you can find out about future events on their website.