McCrady’s new dining space was shining Sunday night for the exclusive Town House tasting dinner. If you’re a fan of “cutting edge” stuff — and we’re talking cuttlefish bubbles, root beer basil stock, candied yams with trout roe, and scallops bathed in banana broth (paired with champagne, no less) – and forgot to show up, then you missed a good one.

Besides the far out menu, diners marveled at the new space that McCrady’s recently unveiled upstairs, a deeply modern, cool-toned maw, with towering ceilings and ancient wood scraped down to its primordial core. The abstract art alone is worth a quick peek on your next visit.

I’m not sure how much insight this dinner provides into Brock’s evolving style – a more subtle approach to gastronomy with focus on farm freshness and minimalist technique. The two dishes he provided played more to a former style, in keeping with the very adventurous moves of his guest chefs, John Shields and Karen Urie.

Still, Brock remains an elemental force of nature in the kitchen. There was duck foie gras, frozen in liquid nitrogen and then shattered into abstract nuggets, arranged about a square plate with bits of sour apple and  the bitter bite of hazelnuts and cocoa powder. His blackened beef short rib, cooked sous vide until meltingly tender and covered with the carbonized residue of burned leeks, resonated with a robust creativity. Everything on the plate played black against the white china, the visual a striking reminder that food can transcend taste alone. But Brock’s secret lies in the fact that most anything you ever eat out of his kitchen with blow your taste buds away as well.

Town House, a relatively new place up in middle-of-nowhere Virginia must be the most progressive restaurant to ever be placed in the backwoods of America.  I’m still marveling at the texture of “crispy milk bubbles” and the golden egg yolk whose outside crackled like hard rock candy before spilling its warm contents into a bowl of root beer/squab broth.  Fantastical.

These guest chef dinners at McCrady’s are quickly becoming our own little Beard house in the Holy City. We can’t wait for the next one.

 


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