The Cooks’ House was opened 13 years ago by Eric Patterson and Jennifer Blakeslee who worked together in Las Vegas and wanted to open a small restaurant focused on locally grown and foraged foods. There are about 8 marble topped tables inside on a wooden floor in a room decorated with art and cookbooks. A small bar is in the corner but it is only for making drinks not sitting at. They offer tasting menus of 3, 5 or 7 courses with the smaller ones having some choices and wine pairings available for each. Menus are only online and change with ingredient availability. Music is in the background, the place is well lit, benchs are along the walls for seating and street parking supplements the small attached lot. It is casual with flatware in a box on the table as well as a bottle of chilled water and very friendly service. We chose the 7 course tasting and got the wine pairings.
The meal started with a wet cloth to wipe your hands – always a nice touch.
A welcome was vegetable consommé with olive oil. It was warm and aromatic. Inside it was flavorful with aspects of tomato flavor. It was a fun and had a very fresh taste.
The amuse bouche was butter poached radish on soubise and deep fried kale chips. The tart radish was a great pairing with sweet onion soubise. Lots of flavor was in this one. The kale was a bit greasy but totally crisp and wonderful. It was delicate, very thin and well seasoned. Great start.
A small loaf of sourdough bread was delivered hot to the table with a softened slab of salted cultured butter. The bread was from a local bakery, finished in house and had a lovely crisp crust and doughy interior. The butter was delicious and the 2 made a killer pair.
Hubbard Squash soup was adorned with a raisin-caper relish and swirled with some locally made chestnut oil. The soup was amazingly smooth with just the right consistency. Light but not thin it was punctuated by the raisins and capers. Chestnut oil added a nice depth to the flavor. Slightly sweet, it was great.
Linguini pasta was mixed with Chicken of the Woods mushrooms, toasted breadcrumbs, brown butter, lemon and saltless sea cheese(a local product). This was an amazing dish with the tender pasta accented by the rich crisp breadcrumbs both bound by a bit of cheese. This was a dish best described as rich wonderfulness – I could have eaten it all night. Great.
Walleye was in coconut broth, topped with a coconut and honeydew melon relish and sitting on sweet and sour eggplant. The broth was good as were the accompaniments but the fish was a bit dry. If you mixed it with the broth and others you could get by as it was a really unexpected and interesting combination of flavors. This was a lesser dish but still very acceptable.
Bulgogi style hanger steak was alongside miso bok choy. The tasty chewy meat was cooked a nice medium rare and placed on a wonderful spicy sauce. The bok choy was slightly salty but that worked great to combine with the beef. It was a flavor filled plate that lingered on your palate.
Turnips were presented with chili oil, micro cabbage, fried egg sauce and pea shoots. The turnips were totally tender and juicy and went well with the sauce that was like a seasoned mayo and a bit of the hot oil. This was not an intensely flavored dish but really good with nice texture contrasts.
A selection of local cheeses were presented with honeycomb, plums, pepper and cherry jams and house made crackers. The cheeses were all fairly mild in flavor and thus paired well with the jams and/or honey. The crackers were thin and ultra crisp. I loved the jams and honeycomb flavors even alone on the crackers. The plums were too tasteless.
Dessert was blueberries and cream with mint, basil and brown butter maple shortbread. The mint was mixed with the berries which were on one side of the shortbread and cream covered the top. Dense and buttery, the shortbread and the berries were nicely flavorful. The cream melded the flavors nicely. It was a good one.
A parting bit of sweet came with the bill. It was mostly kettle corn dusted with fennel seeds but on top were miso peanut butter cookies and some burnt honey. It was all tasty and a fine way to end a delicious meal.