Once we were seated, that feeling of being a little out of place seemed to vanish as soon as I met Daron Goldstein, the executive chef. With his deep, thick Boston accent, he has a way about him that makes it clear that not only is he eager to please by way of food, he means business in the kitchen and takes pride in what he does. When I asked him when he "got the bug" (meaning the incurable desire to be in the kitchen), he distinctly remembered it happening at the mere age of 13 and then later, got formally trained at Johnson and Wales. Since then, he's worked in various restaurants and has most recently been at District for 3 years.
To start our meal, Darrin presented us with our specially created tasting menu. It was an impressive list of imaginative dishes ranging from appetizers to main courses. For the first course, we were given a little slice of baguette with a thin layer of goat cheese with thinly sliced apples and rosemary honey drizzled on top. The rosemary honey was sensational. The pairing of earthy rosemary and sticky-sweet honey was exceptionally good.
The second course was a corn chowder with a side salsa of sorts consisting of a giant piece of lobster, a slice of spicy chorizo sausage, fresh corn, heirloom tomato slices and fresh flowers. The soup was delicious and served at a perfect hotter-than-room temperature. The soup had an impressively intense fresh sweet corn flavor and a fantastic velvety texture that sort of coated the taste buds as it swirled in my mouth. This dish was fun and interactive because I could play around with the several flavor combinations and isolate each one, changing the taste of the soup all together.
Next up was the watermelon salad, which consisted of towers of watermelon slices with hearty slices of sheep's milk feta cheese, a crispy disk of panchetta and drizzles of aged balsamic vinegar playfully arranged on a rectangular plate. The flavor combinations and textures were outstanding. It was sweet, soft, tangy, crispy, salty..all rolled into one dish.
After the watermelon salad, came a dish that was an absolute work of art. It arrived at the table and "ohhhs!" and "ahhhs!" could be heard. There in front of us sat a bright pink square of tuna carpaccio that was outlined in sriracha aioli. Precariously positioned on top of that was a square mass of blue crab salad and balanced on top of that was the real showpiece, a sesame cracker shaped like a spoon with inky caviar bubbling over the top. It was almost too pretty to eat.
By this point my stomach was starting to cry uncle but my inner foodie self kept me motivated to muscle through the rest, and that I did. The next dish that was placed in front of me was a new one to my palate and one that I was excited to try: foie gras (AKA, goose or duck liver). The dish itself was paired with bulky, crispy yet still flaky croutons and a cherry compote. On first bite, I wanted to try the liver on it's own to see what all the fuss is about it. It was buttery and tender and richly flavored. When I paired it with the croutons and compote, that's when the real magic happened. The foie gras played chameleon as it just slipped in with the rest of the dish seemingly unnoticed but rounded out all of the flavors so wonderfully and punctuated the entire dish. I didn't leave one bite on the plate.
Last, but oh certainly not least, was the grand finale and my personal favorite, the filet mignon. Tender, flavorful and cooked to an absolute perfect, this steak didn't require a sharp knife. Instead, it sort of melted in my mouth as I softly chewed. Creatively accompanying the steak perfection was fresh corn and summer mushrooms as well as cubed heirloom tomatoes that were stacked like building blocks on the side. My absolute favorite part of this dish was the addition of a thick slap of tallegio cheese that relaxed over the meat, melting slowly and creating a buttery cheese sauce. Dressed with a simple spring of fresh rosemary, this dish was amazing. I promised myself that I wouldn't eat the whole thing but I really couldn't help myself. Would you be able to? I mean, look at that!
Days later, I am still full from this meal but it was so worth it. It's so refreshing to meet people like Daron that take so much care, pride and joy into their work. The creativity and art that he brings to the kitchen is a welcome treat. So next time you're at District Lounge, looking to get your grove on, take a moment to get some bites. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed. And if you go, tell Daron that the SBK sent you and also, please (please!) let me know if Jake Gyllenhaal is there. I can make it to District Lounge in about 15 minutes...
Special thanks to Executive Chef Daron Goldstein and Matthew Bouffard for the invite and delicious meal!