Chef Chat, Part 3: Robert Del Grande of RDG + Bar Annie

This week I have been chatting with Robert Del Grande, the chef behind one of the most famous restaurants in town, RDG + Bar Annie, formerly known as Café Annie. The experience actually has me thinking about food in a different way. The important things: buy the best ingredients you can, be confident enough to let those ingredients stand on their own with minimal tampering, and have fun in the kitchen.

With those things in mind, I sampled some of Del Grande's tasty creations. These were smaller-than-normal portions to allow for more sampling, but make no mistake: RDG + Bar Annie is definitely a place to come and eat.

I started with a dish from the brunch menu: Poached Eggs with Slow Roasted Beef Rib and Tortilla Hash. I cannot even tell you how delicious this dish was, and I usually do not even care for eggs. The egg was softly poached until the white was just set and the gooey yellow center thoroughly drenched the savory beef and tortilla mixture when pierced by a fork. You know those people who refuse to go to brunch because they don't want to pay for something they could easily make at home? Make those people try this dish. It sings with simplicity, yet you know it must require effort to taste so perfect.

Next came the cute and cuddly miniaturized shrimp burger, crispy fries, and house-made chipotle ketchup, which was off Bar Annie's lunch menu. I have a new lunch spot, hands down. The shrimp was cooked through but not overly tough, perfectly spiced, and served on the softest bun you can imagine. The lightness of the shrimp burger pared perfectly with the crisp fries and tangy sauce. Amazing.

With breakfast and lunch out of the way, I moved on to dinner: the smallest, most beautiful filet mignon I have ever laid eyes on. Seared on the outside and fork-tender on the inside, the filet was topped with Del Grande's famous bacon-cheddar sauce. As he puts it, "What do people really like about a baked potato? The cheese, the bacon, and the chives. They could care less about the potato." So he scrapes out the potato fixings, blends them into a creamy sauce, and sticks that directly on the steak. Genius! Then, because everyone truly does want some sort of potato with their steak, he puts a crispy potato hash on the side. It's like a two-for-one deal.

After hearing Del Grande's cooking philosophy, I can both see and taste the simplicity in these gourmet dishes. Everything was divine but simultaneously effortless. Now as for the divine effortlessness of Del Grande's music, I cannot yet say. But I do know that along with a few gifts from the Farmer's Market, all my friends will be receiving a copy of The Barbwires' greatest hits. I heard it pairs amazingly well with a steak and big glass of wine.

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