I have been looking forward to posting about this dining event from last Saturday, but it’s been a busy week of travels. I have to say though, I’ve grown to really enjoy riding trains. It’s been years since I’ve been on an Amtrak train and I was surprised by how comfortable and convenient they can be, not to mention free wifi and power outlets! But at the end of the week, it’s great to finally be back home!
So anyway… last Saturday, I was invited to attend a dining event in Midtown West hosted by [exploration] dining. What is [exploration] dining? In short, it’s an exclusive diner’s club that provides its members with special privileges and discounts at participating restaurants, like 50% off the food bill. The idea behind it, is to explore the city and have unique and incredible dining experiences through various neighborhoods! More information can be found here. Even though I’m a native New Yorker, there’s always so much more to discover in this city. There’s always new restaurants appearing, existing dining treasures to stumble upon, and simply so many food discoveries to be found. Therefore, I was definitely excited when they invited me to join their dining community, free of charge. After all, I’m all about having food adventures.
The event was held at Albert Hall Tavern in Hell’s Kitchen, on 9th Ave between 38th and 39th St. [exploration] dining invited a nice group of restaurant community people, food bloggers, and other food enthusiasts to enjoy a 7-course dinner at this newly opened gastropub with a fun atmosphere. It was an evening of tasty foods, artisan craft beers, new friends, and simply a wonderful time!
I was totally looking forward to the event, but since I was still recovering from my gastrointestinal issues, there were a few things I had to keep in mind prior to the event. I made sure to prepped my stomach earlier the day. I also made a note to drank lots of water throughout the evening. This was in hopes that I can still enjoy the dishes in moderation and minimize post-dinner heartburn and digestion issues. With that… I was ready as I could be!
The evening started with a Patron tasting/course along with raw oysters. I’m not supposed to be drinking any alcohol, but I couldn’t resist the Patron tequila. I told myself, I’d just take a sip. There was the Patron Silver and the Patron Platinum. I’ve had Patron Silver before but it was my first time tasting the Platinum. It was crystal clear, bright, and super smooth. Wow, so good! While enjoying each glass, the hosts gave a little history on Patron Spirits and the process behind each bottle.
One interesting fact I learned: Did you know that the Patron Spirits Company was formed in 1989 by John Paul DeJoria, a co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems? That’s right, as in Paul Mitchell hair care and styling products.
Accompanying the tequila tasting….
Raw oysters – Malpague oysters and and Blue Point oysters
Gosh, I love raw oysters! I picked up the tiny fork, wiggled the oyster around the half shell, placed the fork down, picked up the shell, gave it a good stare, and slurped away! These oysters were so tasty – fresh, light, slightly briny, and so delightful. It totally got me excited about the rest of the dinner.
For the 7-course menu, each course was paired with a selected craft beer, domestic and foreign. Here goes…
Screaming Oysters from Hell
Paired with One Pale Ale from Stone Brewery, USA**
This dish features nicely fried oysters with a chili sauce served over grilled pineapple slices. Did I mention that I like oysters? These “screaming oysters” were real tasty and the grilled pineapple was a sweet accompaniment.
Tuna Tartare with Quail Egg
Paired with Estrella Galicia from Spain**
I really enjoyed this dish quite a lot. Fresh and yummy tuna tartare with slimy quail egg spread on top of a tiny toasty crostini. I wasn’t sure what the long stringy-looking green garnish was, but I ripped a little bit and placed it on top of the tuna tartare. I ate it with the tuna and it was good.
Deviled Braised Short Rib with Horseradish and Mustard Seed
Paired with Triple Karmelit from Belgium
That was some delicious braised short rib, topped with a tomato-y relish on a toasty crostini. The meat was super juicy and tender. Braising meat is just wonderful, because it really breaks down the meat, making it super tender and moist while producing spectacular flavors.
Grilled Radicchio with Trifoline Cheese and Butternut Squash Carpaccio
Paired with Gavroche French Red Ale Biere Sur Lie from Braseserie de Saint-Sylvestre, France**
(Had to pass on this one because of the cheese.)
Steamed Mussels with charred rosemary and black garlic
Paired with Radeberger from Binding Brewery, Germany
I always enjoy eating mussels and I definitely had fun eating these steamed mussels. I like the balance of flavors. After all the mussels were all devoured, I was all up for dipping my bread in the mussel juice on the plate. yum!
Roasted Suckling Pig with maple rum
Paired with Hop Rod Rye from Beer Republic Brewing, USA
I have been wanting to participate in eating a roasted suckling pig for quite a while. I’ve had roast pig in the past (Cantonese siu yuk), but it’s definitely been ages since my last encounter. I was totally excited when I saw them wheel out the entire pig and divide it among all the diners. The meat was tender and moist in the inside and had a nice sweet flavor to it. I normally wouldn’t do this, but I couldn’t resist but to taste a little bit of the pork skin. I had to put up quite a struggle trying to cut a small piece. When the staff noticed, he told me it would be tough to cut the skin and asked if I would like more meat from the pig. Slightly embarrassed, I responded that it was alright and that I really just wanted to have a taste of the skin. lol. I ended up just tearing it with my hands.
That was an awesome dinner indeed – delicious food, wonderful service, and great company too. Met some food blogging and food loving friends. Albert Hall Tavern has a really casual and comfy atmosphere, not to mention an awesome looking phone booth in the dining area. The staff was super friendly and very knowledgeable about the food and beverages. Nice place to dine. It also seems like a nice place for a social gathering or just to hang out and have a drink.
Now with this [exploration] dining card… it’s time for even more food adventures. woo-hoo!