Tuesday, June 12, 2012

B.T.G.: Rosé Edition

The selections of wines being poured at B.T.G.: Rosé Edition.
In the "Speaking Out" column of the July issue of Food & Wine, Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain offered their perspectives on current food trends. With regard to pop-up restaurants, Bourdain said:

"Pop-ups are a good thing. But what I like most are restaurants with visiting chef programs. I love it when I hear a chef say, 'We have a guest chef coming in and doing a menu for a couple of days.' I think that's great. Coupled with a sort of theatrical booking concept - 'Now appearing Laurent Gras, with Laurent's menu: buy your tickets in advance' - I think that's really exciting."

Maitake mushrooms and grits.
Whether B.T.G. qualifies as a guest chef event or a pop-up restaurant/wine bar is a matter of semantics, in my opinion, as the concept embodies characteristics of both. While The Company Burger chef/proprietor Adam Biderman presumably has a heavy hand in designing the menu for B.T.G., he gets by with a little help from his friends and former co-workers from the Link Restaurant Group. Joe Briand handles the wine, while Ryan Prewitt is running expo. And although no "theatrical booking concept" is involved, the excitement in the air at B.T.G. is as thick as our fair city's summer time humidity. Once inside you get the sense that you are part of something special, but you're not sure just exactly what that is. The feeling made me nostalgic for the MVB glory days.

While B.T.G. bills itself as a pop-up wine bar, I can say with conviction that the majority of patrons are more interested in the food. Regardless, those who appreciate a well contrived list of interesting wines at affordable price points - even those who shun rosé as a trend which jumped the shark back in the summer of 2009 - would have been smitten with Joe Briand's selections. All total there were 11 wines to select from (compared with a food menu of just 6), all available by the bottle or the glass. Their origins ranged from well known rosé regions like Provence to less prominent selections from Germany, Austria, and even Lebanon. Hefty by the glass pours ranged from $5-$7 and the bottle list topped out at $35, with most priced at $30.

Brown butter sweetbreads.
The brief menu was comprised of dishes whose only common denominator was seasonality. A panzanella salad ($8) featured the season's first creole tomatoes whose bright red color evidenced unbelievable freshness. Buttery crunchy croutons were softened ever so slightly by the natural juices from the tomatoes, and garlic and charred onion brought a little spice and heat that complemented the herbaciousness of the basil and sweetness of balsamic vinegar. The earthiness of sauteed maitake mushrooms, better known as "Hen of the Woods", was offset by a squeeze of lemon and the richness of grated parm, with thick, rich grits providing the backbone of the dish ($10).

I am a sweetbread fanatic, and over the years I have deduced that the best preparations highlight the richness of these glands without causing overkill. La Boca's grilled sweetbreads are the apotheosis of this method. B.T.G.'s brown butter sweatbreads ($12), lightly crusted with flour and seared on the griddle, are a close second. What made the dish was the corn and squash sautee underneath, which brought crunch and contrast. The presence of The American Slider ($3) - a miniature version of the namesake Company Burger adorned simply with griddled onions and melting American cheese - was a nice bridge to the true identity of the restaurant. Krystal ain't got nothing on these babies.

We arrived at 7:00 just when service began. By the time we left just before 8:00, the line at the counter was 15 people deep and inside table space was at a premium. The speakers played an eclectic mix of tunes ranging from Dr. Dre to Stone Temple Pilots and Michael Jackson. The vibe had edge and pretentiousness acceptable only when backed up by great wine and food. Mission accomplished.

B.T.G. - Birdie/Eagle
4600 Freret Street
Tuesday nights


Jude Boudreaux said...

That's a strong review! Been thinking we needed to check this place out, will need to get over there!

Anonymous said...

Do ya'll know when they open the doors? I don't dig on long lines.

neckroll said...

Just to be clear, we dont do the pop-up every tuesday, just once a month, the next one will be in july, when we will be celebrating Riesling. Thank you B.O. for the great review and we will let yall know when we have the next one nailed down!