Snacking On Pop Up Restaurants
Like many people, I first heard of pop-up restaurants on Food Network. Although there are a few definitions for what a pop up restaurant actually is, let us consider that it is a different culinary experience in a familiar restaurant.
My first pop up experience was Azul, the Latin American restaurant. I don’t have much experience with Latin American food. While I enjoy the Americanized tastes of Mexican cuisine as we’ve come to know it, when I’ve gone to more authentic restaurants, like Tacos dos Amigos or El Carnavale, I’ve found myself enjoying the complex flavours in the simplicity of the dishes.
Azul was definitely an upscale experience. I started with the chorizo pot stickers and the Azul margarita garnished with a lime. The bright blue colour was a surprise, but the taste was pretty smooth, a good blend of all ingredients. The chorizo pot stickers were more subtle in flavour and not nearly as spicy as I would have liked, but the meat was tender and the avocado sauce was excellent.
Since we ate with a bunch of people, I was able to try some of their dishes. The cerviche de la Azul was excellent. The tartness of citrus, the sweet flesh of shrimp, the soft, yet flaky fish, the crunch of onions and peppers, cilantro grounding them all, I didn’t even need the tortilla chips to devour this dish.
For the main dish, I had the Chorizo Crusted Chilean Sea Bass with wild rice and Catalon spinach, a wilted spinach with garlic, currants, and pine nuts. Since it was the same chorizo as the pot stickers, the crust on the sea bass was basically just crust. However, the chef must have realized this because three pieces of chorizo garnished the side and if you ate the sea bass with a piece of the chorizo, the taste must have been exactly what the chef envisioned when he considered putting chorizo in the crust. The sea bass and the chorizo complemented each other perfectly. I almost wish there had been a little sea bass in the pot stickers because the smokiness of the chorizo really came out with the sea bass.
I also got to try the Black Angus Hanger Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. The piece I had was extra chewy, though very flavourful, but a couple of other people had it and said it was perfectly tender.
Dessert was the Coconut Tres Leche Trifle. I first had a tres leche cake in Austin, TX and have loved it ever since. I don’t know if they still make it, but Tic Toc used to make an excellent tres leche cake. This was really delicious, although I like the cake best when the three milks have soaked through the cake. The cake was moist, but not tres leche moist. However, the taste was excellent. I’ve tried my hand at making a tres leche cake and I know how hard it is to get the three milks to soak all the way through without making the bread too soggy, however it can be done. If we see Azul return, I would like to see a better effort with the cake.
But that being said, it was some of the best food I’d had in a long time.
Tonight, we see another pop up restaurant, BERLYN… uber kaffe & bier haus. In celebration of Octoberfest, Lemongrass is cooking up German food for all and sundry. The meal is a la carte, so there is no set price. You can order and much or as little as you’d like. You can find a menu here.
I’m really excited about the beers, the brats, and the cider with barenjager honey liqueur. At Azul I ordered a flight of tequila, which means the only thing I can drink for the rest of the night is tequila. At least this time, beer and wine are the specialty drinks on the menu and plays well with other alcohols.
If you tried Azul, let me know what you had and what you thought! If you’re going to Berlyn, what are you looking forward to?