Chef Chat, Part 3: Mike Potowski of benjy's on Washington

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This week, we caught up with Executive Chef Mike Potowski of benjy's on Washington. Check it out here and here. Today, we sample some of his creations.

The tasting provided a glimpse of Chef Potowski's broad culinary range. After hearing about his sushi background, I was pleased he brought out some sashimi. Delicately sliced pieces of mild grouper rested in a shallow pool of san bai zu (sweet vinegar sauce). Accompanying the fish were pickled grapes, radish flowers, and some Texas olive oil. The well-executed dish was light and very refreshing.

Next, Chef Potowski went heavy, by bringing out his take on chicken and waffles. The crunchy-grained crust surrounded a thick chicken breast filet. The perfectly prepared waffles were topped with a blueberry compote, syrup, slivers of banana, and crisp bacon. If you happen to order this dish, do your very best to get each element onto the fork all at once. It works. Boy, does it work--sweet, salty, gooey, crunchy, all in one bite. I find that many restaurants can't make a good waffle. Not so at benjy's. Chef Potowski's was slightly crunchy on the outside, but with a super-soft interior.

If you're looking for a dish that falls somewhere in the middle of light and heavy, the roasted portabella crepes may be it. Try these thin crepes stuffed with meaty mushrooms, curly endive, and topped with a cream sauce and crumbled feta. This dish is the definition of brunch. The mushrooms were perfectly cooked and give the crepe a hearty filling that could please both vegetarians and omnivores.

I had to stop the chef there. Both the chat and food were excellent.

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