I was looking for an excuse to try Graham Elliot Bowles' restaurant, Graham Elliot. The concept is serious food without the pretentiousness. I finally had dinner there for a friend's birthday.
The ambience is trendy yet casual. High energy, good music, no dress code, no tablecloths. When we were seated, we were welcomed with a basket of white truffled popcorn with parmesan. As truffled popcorn is something I regularly make, I was slightly disappointed that 1) the popcorn tasted stale and 2) it was not well seasoned. My dinner companions, however, loved the truffled popcorn and asked for a second basket.
The food was exciting, creative, and tasty. The server was accommodating of my dietary restrictions and offered to create a plate from the vegetable accompaniments on the menu. He also recommended the sweet corn bisque, which was certainly the highlight of the meal.
Here is a recap of what I had.
Course 1. Sweet corn bisque incorporated with chipotle jam, crushed corn nuts, garlic marshmallow, lime crema. The sweet corn bisque is poured at the table over the other components and then the server asks you to stir everything together. The components work in harmony to create a dish that is sweet, creamy, spicy, crunchy, fragrant, and has nice acidity. Each spoonful tasted different and led me to uncover more complexities. Outstanding dish.
Course 2. Smoked eggplant topped with tomato marmalade accompanied by Israeli couscous and caramelized fennel. Beautiful but not very filling. It was the first time I had Israeli couscous. Have you had this stuff? It was amazing. I love the texture and it is a refreshing change from usual couscous.
Course 3. Chocolate cake, two ways with a meringue and ice milk. Enough said.
I *really* hope that Graham Elliott adds vegetarian main courses to the menu. But honestly, I would go back just for the sweet corn bisque.