[image-1]Excess, corruption, obscene shows of wealth. These were all hallmarks of the Gilded Age, a name coined by Mark Twain to mark the era between 1870 to about 1900. Aside from U.S. history class, you may have heard the term used more recently as many academics claim that our current era, namely marked by the incredible rise of the one percent, is proof that we’re living in a second Gilded Age.
And, great news, now we have a menu to match it. Sean Brock told Eater Thursday that his new McCrady’s Tavern takes its inspiration from this time period.
The Tavern is an idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for a few years now. I’ve always been obsessed with Pre-Depression American cooking. The food after the Civil War, and before the Great Depression, the Gilded Age, was a really, really cool moment for American cooking. This is when people were inventing things like baked Alaska, oysters Rockefeller, and lobster newburg and thermidor.
Incidentally, another really cool moment in American cooking during the Gilded Age was when C.K.G. Billings, a millionaire industrialist, hosted a black-tie dinner on horseback. According to the Ephemeral New York blog, the dinner was for 36 of Billings’ closest male friends who dined in-saddle inside one of the city’s fanciest restaurants on Fifth Avenue and 44th Street. “Sherry’s ballroom was made to mimic woodlands, complete with dirt on the floor. The horses were brought up via an elevator and had dinner trays attached to their saddles. Each horse had a feedbag of oats to chomp on as well. Courses were served by waiters dressed as grooms; guests drank champagne through rubber tubes.”
[image-2]Alas, McCrady’s Tavern dinners won’t be nearly that audacious. Brock told Eater’s Erin Perkins, “It will be old school, but in a new way. We’re taking everything we’ve learned in the last 15 years of modern cooking, and cooking in general, and applying that to the spirit of the Gilded Age. We’ve created food that is simple in appearance, but insanely flavorful with very high-quality ingredients.”
Brock says the menu will include a burger that rivals Husk’s. There will be “Thomas Jefferson’s macaroni,” which he’s describing as “the most complicated macaroni and cheese on the planet.” And, of course, a one-bite, parfait-o-caviar — C.K.G. Billings would have loved that.
The idea, Brock says, is to cater to clients who loved McCrady’s former tasting menus — they can dine at the new 22-seat, 15-course, tasting-menu-only (price TBD) McCrady’s which will open later in the old Minero on East Bay St. Meanwhile, Charleston’s modern-day Carnegies can head to the Tavern for his smothered pork chop and herb salad.
McCrady’s Tavern will open on Aug. 11.