Bravotv.com: Now for their dishes, what did you think of Carlos’ Red Snapper Crudo, Avocado Mousse, Pickled Baby Carrots, and Fried Platano?
GS: On paper it sounded absolutely delicious. But his red snapper was cut very inconsistently. Some pieces were thin, some pieces were thick. It felt shredded. I’m not sure if he was working with a dull knife or just working too quickly. So many tasting menus start with crudos because they require no cooking. There’s prep in advance -- his avocado mousse, the baby carrots had to be pickled, plantains had to be fried. But the actual plating of the dish when the diner sits down, should be very fast. The fish is cut quickly so it can all be put on the plate and sent out. We couldn’t figure why we waited so long for that course until we found out there was a “verbal fire.” There was actually never a ticket to start the our meal.
Bravotv.com: Then you had Justin’s Roasted Parsnip Agnolotti, Mississippi Rabbit, and Collard Greens Broth?
GS: Justin’s rabbit and agnolotti also sounded delicious on paper. There were was a strange mix of issues going on in his plate. The pasta seemed undercooked. The rabbit was tough which means it may not have been braised long enough to let it relax. It just didn’t deliver on his description . We know how well Justin can cook and we couldn’t believe this was what he wanted or envisioned for the dish.
Bravotv.com: Moving to Shirley’s Olive Oil Poached Cobia, Blanched Ong Choy, and Salsa Verde. . .
GS: Shirley’s cobia was quite good. It was poached well. She had this ong choy on the bottom, but she used a shrimp paste to season it which is very intense in flavor, very shrimpy, very salty and briny. It was a bold choice. I liked it because as the third course, with the first two courses being so mild and erratic, this was a statement. It woke me up. But we did hear from a few people that it also turned them off a bit because they weren’t prepared for just how strong that flavor was.