Thursday, March 28, 2013

JG Domestic Review

This is for a series of posts related to Iron Chef Jose Garces including:

Of the legion of Iron Chef Jose Garces' restaurants, which includes Tinto and Village Whiskey, JG Domestic was one of the first I tried when I came to Philly a few years ago. Offering locally sourced premium pastured meats and farm fresh vegetables, this is one of those restos that offer a true 'farm to table' experience. So recently, I decided to give the tasting menu another try.

It takes a bit to reach your destination however. Unless you enter the maze of 30th street station to get through to the northern overpass, you'll need to navigate under a scary overpass and some construction to get to your desired location, on the ground level of the beautiful Cira Center.

Little did I know - Iron Chef Garces' Garces Group office is located here as well! In fact, we caught a glimpse of the chef right as he was leaving. 

Once you enter the gorgeous Cira Center, you're transported into a clean environment, unlike outside the building. To your direct left, you'll see the beautifully designed JG Domestic.

As you wait for the rest of your party - feel free to lounge and admire the space. Or head further into the center and you'll find a little nook which has lunchtime sandwiches and other goods on proffer from Garces Trading Company. This includes their deliciously fruity olive oils.

But I had to save my appetite, because the GF and I were here to indulge in their tasting menu. Dinner started off a bit rocky as the hostess proceeded to sit us at a small table for two in the front of the restaurant. When I made my reservation, I had asked for a comfortable table as we would be indulging in the tasting. I reiterated this once I saw where she had planned on seating us.

Unfortunately, despite the available space in the back by the kitchen, out hostess said it was an impossibility. Ultimately though, our server Lenny was a gem and realized that the sheer quantity of dishes was impossible to stack at our tiny table for two. After a few courses, he commandeered an empty 2-top next to ours and proceeded to make extra space for us. Much appreciated! 

Tasting Menu ($55 pp)

I've noted the a la carte pricing for those who may think this tasting is simply too gluttonous. 

Parker House Rolls

But on with our tasting! As with all meals at JG Domestic, you start with delicious Parker House rolls. These come fresh out of the oven in a cast iron pan, topped with sea salt. Apple thyme jelly and whipped butter accompanied the quartet of rolls, of which I gladly ate three. Sorry babe!

Hickory Smoked Georgia Pecans ($7)
Maple, Bacon

These are the perfect bar snack. The smoky bacon, the sweet maple, and some cayenne added a hint of spiciness to the delicious molasses-y nuggets. 

Landaff Cheese ($7)

The Landaff was sourced from New Hampshire and offered a tart creaminess which was complemented well by the accompanying mango raisin chutney and accentuated by the tart Granny smith apple slices. The requisite baguette slices were fresh and appreciated. 

GTC Salami ($9)

The house-made salumi had a gaminess with prototypical highlights of fennel. But the real star here? The egg salad - creamy with textural accents of raw onion, which offset the intensity of the salami. And who can say no to more bread?

Roasted Beets ($13)
Whipped ricotta, smoked maple syrup, micro arugula, pistachio

The GF can't say no to any beet salad and was happy this was included in our tasting. I usually find them pedestrian, but this was a nice iteration. There was a mix of sweet purple and yellow beets, with highlights of smoked maple syrup. The slightly tangy fruit and the subtly sweet ricotta melded the dish together nicely. The pistachios added a nice textural element as well. 

Wood Oven Flatbread ($14)
Hen of the woods, egg yolk, black truffle, cheddar

While many can say that flatbread with an egg and truffle is also commonplace, it's hard to say it's pedestrian. It's easy to see why this is a favorite and a house specialty at JG Domestic. With a bechamel base and a crispy, buttery crust, the additions of maitake mushrooms, or hen of the woods, is a substantial addition. The umami of the egg yolk, black truffle oil, and cheddar push it over the top. A must-order.

Day Boat Scallops ($24)

Sourced from New Bedford, MA, these scallops were sweet, with a slight chew. The outer crust was cooked well, though slightly salty for my taste, though the spritz of the lemon wedge served to temper this. Simple, but delicious.

Jumbo Shrimp ($22)

One of my favorite dishes at Tinto was the gambas. So natch, I was excited when I saw these bad boys from the Gulf Coast of LA. Smoky with a nice snap to the tail/torso end, which the GF indulged in, I was happy with the heads. Creamy and deliciously savory - most people don't know what they're missing. Another must-order, provided you know what to do with the heads.

Organic Poussin ($21)

Sourced from Grisstown Farm in Jersey, these young chickens were expectedly moist and juicy, with a nice outer char. From top to bottom, the accompanying trio of sauces included a herbaceous chimichurri, a creamy jalapeƱo aioli, and a romesco sauce. My favorite of the three was the aioli, which had a nice spicy kick to it on the finish.

Brussels Sprouts ($10)
La Quercia proscuitto, Allagash honey, roasted chestnut, orange

It's hard for the GF and I to ever pass up brussel sprouts, so we were happy with this inclusion. The proscuitto added the smokey undertone that is usually offered by bacon, but in contrast, the proscuitto had a sweet undertone. The contrast between the bright orange and the raw red onion was nice. The greens themselves were slightly charred and offered a bright accompaniment to the aforementioned poussin. The sauce was highly reminiscent of what us Koreans dip roasted pork belly in - a soy/sugar sauce with raw onions.

Bourbon ($9)
Beignets, bourbon vanilla mousseline, Maker's Mark butterscotch

For the finale, we had a French Quarter staple - crusty beignets with fluffy innards, meant to be dipped in that delicious bourbon butterscotch (in place of coffee). Powdered vanilla bean stems topped a mousseline, which was thick, with nice undertones of bourbon and subtle hints of bourbon.

JG Domestic is a great option if you're looking to try some of Iron Chef Garces' dishes through his tasting menu gauntlet. It's nice to see fresh ingredients that can be rendered into inventive and more importantly, delicious dishes. The location could be better, but I guess it makes sense to have one of your restaurants below your main offices. What better way to keep a pulse on food that is being put out under your name? 

JG Domestic on Urbanspoon

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