This is the second official Frankie visit to FT33 and the restaurant has made a few more changes to the place. It’s still the same large dining room with 4 counter seats across from the kitchen , a good sized bar area and located in the Design District. Now valet parking is a must if you want to park in the lot adjacent to the restaurant since several others places have opened that share the same lot. Self parking is available if you’re willing to walk down to the next lot. Now they not only stress locally sourced ingredients but exclusively use them. If not fresh and in season they may be pickled or otherwise preserved and flavor is the focus of the meal. They have an inventive cocktail menu and a well chosen wine list. Food is offered in a daily a la carte menu but now they offer a $65 4-course menu with about 4 choices for each course.
Portions are scaled down slightly from the full portion, so it is just the right amount of food. They also offer wine pairings to go with the tasting. Our efficient and friendly server was most helpful in making selections and was fine to let us share by placing choices in the middle of the table and giving us empty plates. That way we were able to try 8 menu options and all were very good, some outstanding.
While we were waiting for the first selections they brought out slices of soft chewy house-made bread. The flavors vary and this day we had potato-herb focaccia and rustic white. Both were moist and really didn’t need the addition of butter. They were perfect for getting the last bits of sauce off the plates.
One first course was marinated shrimp with chow chow and shaved radishes. The shrimp bits were mixed with focaccia that had been soaked in tomato juice. The shrimp were actually the dullest part of the tasty dish. The bread chunks were really fun and the spicy chow chow gave the dish a little kick. Even the radishes were tasty, not too hot, just a very pleasant taste. The dish was outstanding flavor-wise and a wonderful mix of textures.
The pastrami porchetta was sliced thin and covered with rye cumble, beet kraut relish and half sour pickles and then dotted with garlic aioli. The pastrami was really tasty and all the ingredients blended particularly well. A deconstructed reuben but even better with very pure and clean flavors. Another winner.
For second course we chose field peas with spicy coppa, asian pear, ricotta and lavender. The field peas were in the form of a purée as well as being solid, both tasty. The housemade ricotta was lovely and the pears divinely sweet and juicy. The coppa was not that spicy but sung with flavor. This was good stuff.
The eggplant mezzaluna was pasta filled with eggplant, sauced with preserved tangerine and then topped with cracked peanuts and pesto. The half moon pastas were tender and delicious and the nuts added a lively crunch and nutty flavor. A lot of strong flavors here but they all blended perfectly and were enhanced by the variety of textures. Another winner.
For main course the gulf snapper with tomatillo salsa, smoked potatoes and maitake mushrooms was covered with a broth made from roasted potato skins. The broth was amazing and enhanced by some very spicy red peppers on the plate. The smoked potatoes have always been a winner here and they did not disappoint. This was a perfect combination of flavors and the bread was ultra handy to not waste a drop of that scrumptious broth.
The sweet Italian pork sausage was plated with heirloom peppers, grilled onions, fresh beans and covered with a vegetable broth. The fresh beans could have been cooked a bit more and the broth was a bit tart but it all seemed to work with the juicy, tasty sausage. The peppers here were mild. A good dish but the fish was better.
For dessert the ricotta bavarian tart was topped with preserved figs and then plated with oat crumble and fig leaf ice cream. The sweet figs blended nicely with the creamy ice cream. The tart was cheesecake-like with a really tasty crust. All parts of this were good alone or mixed with one another.
The salted buttered popcorn semifreddo was served with blueberries, caramelized lime curd and kafir. It was outstanding. The crispy sheet of caramelized popcorn was amazing with the ice cream or just by itself. The blueberries had a wonderfully strong flavor of blueberry and all worked together to produce a real lick-the-plate offering. Yum x2!