Stubborn Seed has Bravo’s Top Chef Season 13’s winner Chef Jeremy Ford in charge of the kitchen. It’s a medium-sized place that serves only a tasting menu in the main dining room and various snacks at the bar. It was very lowly lit, which made photos difficult, had music in the background, got fairly noisy when full, and the small tables were unclothed dark wood. Paintings and mirrors decorate the walls. The menu for the evening is on the table and wine pairings are available as are supplements of Perigord truffles, Ossetra caviar and a course of Chawan Mushi. The server informed the kitchen of our visit and we were gifted several supplements. A kind and generous gesture but that didn’t win me over, the food did. It was wonderful, as was the service. They were justly awarded a Michelin Star in the new Florida guide. Put this one on your list to visit, sorry my photos don’t do justice to this tasty and inventive cuisine.
First to arrive were the Cacio e Pepe Cheesy Puffs and bread and butter pickles. Talk about starting off right. You were to eat the cool pickles with the delicate warm puff for a taste and texture contrast. Both were excellent. The puff was like a giant wonderful gougere – tender in the middle with a slight crisp to the exterior and then they were topped with more cheese. The pickles added salt and spice to this already divine bread. Total yum.
A Caviar Macaroon was made with champagne cream cheese and filled with Kaluga caviar. The macaroon had a perfect chewy texture and sweet rich flavor. The caviar was perfect to pair with it but almost overshadowed by the tasty biscuit it came in. This was one you loved to eat and turn around in your mouth.
Venus Clam was in a carrot vinaigrette and topped with basil foam. Oh my, was this a fine bite? The vinaigrette was mild and the basil sang in perfect harmony with the little chopped clams underneath. It was lovely.
Binchotan charred Japanese Yellowtail crudo was served with torched plabano and green grapes in a coconut infusion alongside a marigold tapioca crisp. It came out with a middle bowl holding dry ice and citrus to fog aroma over the table. The thick piece of hamachi picked up the tart citrus and sweet grapes for a great combination of flavors. The chip on the side was crisp and light and had wia perfect textural contrast with the other ingredients. This one was really good.
Confit Duck tortellini was topped with winter truffle alongside butternut squash, hazelnut and duck consommé. The roasted butternut squash was in a purée form and the duck consommé was cooked for 72 hours, so you know it was packed with flavor. The chopped hazelnuts added crunch and deepened the flavor nicely. The pasta wrappers were thin and tender. The wonderful ingredients all worked together perfectly with a delicious end result.
The intermezzo was a red wine sorbet in persimmon foam with coconut pearls. Great palate cleanser here. Lovely flavors while being cool and refreshing. The coconut pearls were a really fun addition.
Charred dayboat swordfish was plated with gratitude garden mushroom, eggplant purée, soy emulsion and pickled tomato. In addition it was supplemented with a large scoop of Ossetra caviar. The wonderful chunk of fish could have been cooked a minute less but not enough to worry about. The large mushrooms were soft and tasty and added texture as did a crispy thin slice of onion. This was another wonderful plate.
The kitchen also sent out the Chawan Mushi for us to try. It was served cold which was very different to me. Topped with Perigord truffles and caviar the lovely custard was on the bottom. Your challenge is to get through to all the levels in each bite. It was very tasty and a most generous gift of the kitchen.
Dry aged Rohan duck breast was topped with pan seared foie gras and plated with rutabaga purée, pine nut dukkah and champagne leeks. The duck was dry aged 5 days and then braised. A natural reduction of the juices was around the perimeter of the plate and all was topped with some winter truffles. The nut mix was Egyptian based and also included hazelnuts. The duck was wonderful especially when eaten with a bit of the foie gras and the intense sauces. This was a terrific plate filled with flavors and textures.
Strawberries were with almond cake, anise sorbet and pannacotta in what the server called a celebration of strawberries. The almond cake was particularly nice with the strawberry panna cotta cream inside and the sorbet was on top of some sweet crispy crumbs. I’m good with this celebration.
The petit four was a chef’s selection and turned out to be a dulce de leche sandwich cookie topped with powdered sugar. This one was magic in your mouth – its sweetness lingering on long after you were done chewing. It was a fabulous end to an equally fabulous meal.