Hemlock: The Poor Man’s L’Arpege
I knew it wasn’t long before the 4th of July but I wasn’t expecting fireworks. How could kohlrabi possibly taste that good? That’s what I pondered as I sawed into the mandolined, disabused vegetable. Tender disks blanketed intense charred bits of the bulb’s sensuous flesh dressed in bay leaf oil and cilantro ($11). Really? Pyrotechnics are now allowed indoors?
Sorry, didn’t save any kohlrabi for you.
The intimate Hemlock, rich in rustic blonde wood, is my latest neighborhood crush. From seared striped bass with pea shoots and charred peas ($28), pattypan squash with seeds, to divine, crusty sweet potato bread (with charred sweet potato leaves whipped into butter), the same pure aesthetic is respected.
Chef Diego Moya is a Casa Mono alum, so he knows a thing or two about a char. But what about this obvious love affair with the vegetable? All fingers point to his work with Alain Passard in Paris. That is why at that first bite of kohlrabi I felt the L’Arpege touch and the chef’s love of the oft-ignored bay leaf. Here is an homage to deceptive simplicity. Flavors are teased out from seemingly nowhere. There seems to be nods to Estela and to Wildair yet Moyo’s voice is the one that sings loudest.
A presentation favored by chef Diego Moya.
The wine list is admirable for its selection and brevity. (Having come back from Portland, Oregon where one can still drink well at $40, what can we do? Accept?) That said, if you take that $14 glass of a Grange Tiphaine Nouveau Nez for a spin it is a perfect foil with the kohlrabi. And, is that a line up of Richard Štavek from Moravia? That’s the attitude. White, amber and red, all of Richard’s wines are offered at $62. Not going Slavic? That’s okay. Drink Purity mourvedre ($55) or the Claire Naudin 2011 Orchis Mascula ($100).
Show the place some love.