The last two days, we've been chatting with Chef Jeramie Robison; see our conversation here and here. Today, we'll try some of his food. Christine Uticone recently stopped by Cinq to taste his current menu, so the chef surprised us with a couple of brand-new dishes he's in the process of refining.
It was a hot summer day when I dropped by, so he started off with a light summer salad of fresh watermelon over bright orange heirloom tomatoes, drizzled with herbs, Pure Luck feta cheese, and a rice wine vinaigrette. Served at the what has to be the perfect temperature, the watermelon evoked the feeling one would get from of a crisp cool breeze on sweltering a hot day. You just wanted to say ahhh and enjoy the momentary cool of the watermelon as it hit the tongue.
The watermelon was naturally sweet and crisp, the tomatoes tangy, the feta giving it a salty balance and a bit of contrasting texture, while the rice wine vinaigrette finished everything off. I probably could have eaten a whole watermelon's worth of this dish. It was simply perfection, made even more so by the pairing with a light and dry Rosé from Aix-en-Provence, the 2010 Bieler Pere et Fils, chosen by resident wine expert Rich Arnold.
Next we tried an off-menu item, something Robison has been experimenting with. "Everyone does a tuna tartare...I wanted to see if I could do something different," he said as he presented his dish. Robison's version was a beautifully plated yellowfin tuna mixed with Sriracha, wasabi, ginger oil, jalapeno, cilantro, a crisp shortbread wafer, topped with slices of ginger powder, coriander, and cayenne pepper-crusted sashimi-grade tuna, finished off with micro cilantro, maldon salt, ginger oil, and yuzu creme fraiche.
I love the unique fragrance of yuzu, its lovely delicate aroma a nice contrast to what would normally be a wasabi flavor. It was still in its experimental stages, so a few things needed tweaking, but the complexity of the simple dish is an example of what Robison can do when he just decides to throw something together.
The final course we tasted was accompanied by the requisite "wow" that comes when you taste something you've never tried before. Served on a bed of braised artichokes, an orange dusted Maine lobster with citrus vinaigrette and lobster roe was a genius creation. The orange dust was made of candied orange rind, which had been ground into a fine powder.
Together, the orange dust and roe brought out the natural bright orange color of the steamed lobster visually, while the flavors in each bite elicited "mmm" after "mmm" of pure food enjoyment. The braised artichokes were a bit of a miss because their strong flavor competed with the lobster, but the lobster itself with the orange dust? Sublime.
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Robison, whose Twitter handle is "jeunechef," may be young, but he has an innate sensibility when it comes to food, and his perfected creations are a joy to experience. His braised octopus and braised short ribs (for which he earned a nod as a Starchefs.com Rising Star Chef) are must-try dishes, and from the potential I could see in his "experimental" dishes, his new menu coming out in September is going to be knockout.
Prepare to be impressed.