Monthly Archives: January 2011

Restaurant Week Menu 1/24-1/30

We were afraid the vegetarians were going to be left out of all the fun on restaurant week and decided to be one of the places they could take part in the event.  So both our lunch and dinner menus for the week are vegetarian.

I’m excited about the “vegetales pibil” and am frankly surprised it’s taken us this long to do it.  It’s based on a classic pork preparation where the meat is rubbed with a Yucatan spice mix before being slowly roasted in banana leaves.  We’ll be using a combination of cauliflower (because it’s just so meaty, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and onions.  It should be delicious.

I recently had one of our particularly loyal vegetarian customers ask if or when we were bringing back the vegetarian mole amarillo (a tangy stew of vegetables and masa dumplings in a red-chile, tomatillo sauce).  So, this seemed like a fine enough time for it to make a comeback.

I think everything else sort of describes itself…

Dinner $20

Goat cheese-stuffed Anaheim chile with guajillo-citrus salsa

“Vegetales Pibil” – Achiote spice rubbed vegetables roasted in banana leaves.  Served with black beans and pickled onions

Maple-walnut tres leche cake

Lunch $15

Black bean sope with soy barbacoa, white onions, and queso fresco

Mole Amarillo with masa dumplings and vegetables

Mexican chocolate ice cream with walnut cookies

Mystery Beer Night Tonight

OK, so a bit of a refresher as to what and why this is.

For a variety of reasons, we end up with odds and ends of various delicious beers.  Some times they’re left-overs from a beer dinner.  Sometimes we buy a case of something to pour as a special and sell all but one bottle.  Some were casualties of a recent list over-haul.  Two in particular are because we’re transitioning our beer list to be completely North American.

I’d call it making lemonade from lemons, but none of these are lemons.  Not even close.  They’re all delicious craft beers that would normally cost more than the $3 we charge for them if you’re willing to roll the dice.  Some, a whole lot more.

See, that’s the rub, you don’t know which of these beauts you’re going to get when you order the mystery beer.  Nobody does.  The bartender just reaches blindly into the mystery door and pulls one out.

Oh, and we only call it Mystery Beer Night because that sounds better than Mystery Beer Day.  However, as with all drink specials in the state of NC, this deal is good all day long.

Without further ado, here’s the line-up for this Tuesday’s Mystery Beer Night.

Now, in full disclosure, in some of these cases, there may be only one or two in the hopper.  However, as you can see, there’s not a loser in the bunch.

Anchor Christmas Ale
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Leffe Golden Ale
Highland Oatmeal Porter
Highland Mocha Stout
Founders Porter
Brooklyn Lager
and more…

Sombra Holiday

New to the Top Shelf

Sombra Mezcal

First, I thought I’d give just a quick primer on the difference between Tequila and Mezcal.  And, no, it’s not just about the worm.  In fact, according to the folks who make Sombra, the worm was added as a marketing gimmick to get people past the poor, chemical taste of mass-produced Mezcals.  Needless to say, there’s no worm in a bottle of Sombra.

So, what is the difference?  First off, Tequila comes from Jalisco, and Mezcal comes from Oaxaca.  Secondly, each uses a different variety of agave (that cactus-like plant).  The biggest difference, at least to me, is the manner in which it is made.  In both cases, the large pineapple-shaped heart of the agave is harvested after 8-10 years of growing.  This long maturity period, by the way, is why Mexican law allows producers to add up to 49% grain spirits to their mix.  Unfortunately, that results in an inferior product but does represent the majority of the tequila made.  All but one of our tequilas and mezcals are made from 100% agave, and we’re phasing out the one that isn’t.

At any rate, these pinas are roasted to intensify the sugars and here is where the big difference occurs.  In the case of tequila, the roasting process is gentle and the sap is pressed off the roasted pulp.  That filtered sap is then fermented and distilled to create tequila.  In the case of Mezcal, the heat is more intense, causing the skins to char a bit.  Also, the fermentation occurs prior to filtration, so the charred and roasted skins of the pinas contribute the trademark smoky quality Mezcal is known for.

There’s obviously more to it than that, but I didn’t want to bore you with too many details.

So, what’s so cool about Sombra?  The only Mezcal readily available in the state is Monte Alban.  It’s fine enough, but it would be like if the only bourbon you could get was the basic Jim Beam.  Again, certainly a tasty enough bourbon, but nothing truly remarkable.  It took a local guy who’s recently begun brokering some amazing spirits (and more are destined for our bar) to bring this Sombra into the state.  Mind you, we still have to special order it, so don’t expect to see it everywhere, but at least it’s here.

Wow, what a revelation?  It’s just so distinctive!  So smoky, so rich and yet, with a bright and clean citrus finish.  Honestly, it may take some getting used to for those unfamiliar with the style.  For me, it happened in the course of my first cocktail.  At first sip, I wasn’t sure what to think, but by the end, I’d realized how much I loved it.  Now I get it all the time.

The agave is grown organically on the steep slopes in the small village of San Luis Del Rio (elevation 8000 ft).  Now, I know more about wine than I do spirits, but, in the wine world, steep slopes and high elevation mean the plants have to work harder than normal and that results in more intense and distinctive fruit.  I can only imagine the same thing is in play here.

Since Sombra is so distinctive, Andrew and I wanted to come up with a truly unique cocktail to feature it.  We’re working on a special margarita based on it, and I often just get one of our classics with this instead of tequila, but for now, we’ve created what you might think of as a Mexican Negroni.

THE SOM(br)A HOLIDAY:

Sombra Mezcal, Campari, rosemary syrup, and lime.  The Campari brings a bitter edge to the drink and the rosemary really plays well with the smoky aromas.  I love them now and can’t wait until summer time when I’m even more inclined to want a Negroni.

So, if you’re looking for something truly unique, either ask for a SOM(br)A HOLIDAY or just sub Sombra in your margarita the next time you’re in.

Taco Night 1-3-11

The highlights for me tonight are the lamb barbacoa and the cochinita pibil.  The lamb has been making some frequent appearances on the specials menu to rave reviews.  These latest batches of cochinita have been as good as we’ve ever made.  Using a whole local hog and roasting it just slightly differently has resulted in a rich batch that blows previous efforts away.

APPETIZERS

Queso fundito with pico de gallo, chorizo, and poblanos   6

Marinated cactus salad with tomato, avocado, and house-made “chicharones”   8

Sweet potato empanadas with chipotle, fig sauce   7

Classic caesar salad 7

Crispy calamari with “escabeche confetti” and salsa verde aioli   8

Cheese and jalapeno-stuffed plantain fritters with Oaxacan cream and salsa    7

TACOS AND BURRITOS

Carnitas taco: 3 burrito: 8 platter: 12

Twice cooked pork with chipotle and tomatillos

Tinga de Pollo taco: 3 burrito: 8 platter: 12

Shredded chicken with cilantro and lime

Vegetales Mixtos taco: 2.5 burrito: 7 platter: 12

Roasted mushrooms, poblanos, and squash

Barbacoa taco: 3.5 burrito: 9 platter: 14

Braised beef with chiles and tomatoes

Barbacoa de Borrego taco: 4 burrito: 10 platter: 15
Braised lamb

Camote con mole amarillo taco: 3 burrito: 8 platter: 13
Roasted sweet potato with yellow mole and spiced crema

Cochinita Pibil taco: 3.5 burrito: 9 platter: 14

Whole-hog slow roasted Yucatan-style.  Served with pickled onions

Camarones Fritos taco: 3.5 burrito: 9 platter: 14

Lightly battered and fried shrimp with cucumbers and spicy mayonnaise

Platters are larger portions and come with pinto beans, rice and tortillas.

ENTREES

Spice-crusted pork loin with ancho chile-raisin sauce, pickled beets, and masa pudding   17

Herb-roasted Poulet Rouge chicken with adobo, yucca, goat cheese, and chiles   16

Tequila, lime-marinated hanger steak with potato-poblano gratin, greens, and habanero relish   18

Vegetarian Chile Relleno with black bean puree 12

Please inform your server about any dietary restrictions you may have

18% gratuity added for parties of 6 or more