Monday, January 18, 2016

15 Church Services: I'm a Believer!

As dark November creeps into even darker December, when the nights get cold and the wind starts to howl, we look to friends and family and holiday cheer to warm our cheeks, our faith to warm our hearts, and food and booze for everything else.
15 Church is small and classy, seating maybe 60 people at one time. Get thee a reservation. 
Such is the life of a foodie. In my quest for truth I arrived at 15 Church a few weeks ago, having heard many fine stories of heavenly Crispy Oysters and a Zeppole that will lift your soul.

Usually lots of hype makes me suspicious. We entered cautiously through an understated doorway just off of Broadway to a room of golden light and merriment. The bar was packed. A pretty hostess smiled, checked off our reservation, and tucked us into a little table in the corner in the front room. Within moments we were greeted by two servers and the miracle of dinner began. I started letting down my guard.

Wait staff are always on the move. I had to reign in my defensive instincts in the aisles as I tried to take a few pics.
I'm not kiddin' - there were honest to goodness Seraphim and Cherubim waiting on tables that night who made me feel like a REAL goddess, which I am, but I don't think they knew that, despite their divine powers.  And I don't think my silly notes or pictures made any difference whatsoever in the quality of the service. EVERYONE at 15 Church is treated like a welcome guest with smiles and a genuine desire to make your meal a delight.

Homemade focaccia with red wine salted butter
A small wine/cocktail/draft & bottle beer menu, duplicated in the main menu, boasts 30+ wines by the glass. I sipped on a couple of glasses of Rioja Reserva, La Rioja Atta "Vina Alberdi" 2008 as dinner unfolded ($12 glass/$44 bottle) - rich, powerful, and heady (in good company here at 15 Church) but made friendly (like the folks at 15 Church) with a flavor rich in the taste of cherries. Foodie Friend ordered a Vietnamese Lime Soda ($5) - fresh lime and sugar and soda over ice - not too sweet, very refreshing.

The new menu (new to me as well) went from the adventurous (e.g., beef carpaccio with truffle emulsion, beets with horseradish and duck cracklings) to the tame (Chicken "Under a Brick') - a bit of pasta, some fish, hearty portions of beef, even a burger. Rather than thinking it was all over the place I suspect the staff have worked hard to offer something for every attitude and appetite - it isn't a big menu but very thoughtful.
The unwedge salad was rich and delicious. Yes, those are onion rings.
Being a superhero can mean that you've had enough craziness and you want something mellow and soothing. I started with an Iceberg Wedge Salad ($12) - fresh ground pepper was offered up before I could say "thank you lard for this amazing looking dish". Not a classic in the Chicago German restaurant sense - romaine surrounded by heirloom cherry tomatoes and smokey bacon crumbles, topped with a bit of pickled shallot, a rich, salty gorgonzola dressing and thin crunchy onion rings. This, along with a slice of homemade focaccia served with a butter mixed with red wine salt, was certainly a meal in itself. The bacon was cold and a bit flabby and didn't seem to add much, but I decided without deciding that it was over the top delicious - I ate the whole thing.

Butternut Squash Bisque topped with sage leaves and hazelnuts
Foodie Friend tried the Butternut Squash Bisque ($10): slightly sweet, flavored with pears and pecans, nutmeg and sage, this was a big bowl of saving grace - a perfect texture, shiny and slick, not foamy or gritty in any way. The manager even brought us an extra spoon without us having to ask so I could try it too. Close your eyes and wish you were there, too.

Seared sea scallops paired with blood oranges and parsnip puree was sinfully delicious
She had the Scallops as her main - perfectly seared and set atop a spread of pureed parsnips and plated with blood orange-hazelnut brown butter and brussels sprouts ($32). This was a lovely layering of flavors: the parsnips were incredibly smooth, mellow and earthy against the sweet nuts and orange. I loved watching her combine bits of this and that as she ate her way through with a smile that was pure serenity.
Chicken "Under a Brick" with brussels sprouts under the chicken
Chicken shit here went for the Chicken "Under a Brick" ($26) - I was told it was a customer favorite! - and it was almost the best thing I've ever eaten: whipped potatoes were perfectly prepped - not gluey or grainy - smooth and nicely seasoned with butter and pepper, bacon and onion roasted brussels (a bit too charred for my tastes [ha ha yes I'm a Fire Goddess], but I digress), and a beautiful nuclear sized chicken breast that was tender and juicy with a crackly crust that was almost celestial in its appeal, all with a half a roasted lemon on top. That bit of lemon was a truly delightful addition to the plate - very nice.

We were really really full, even though I hardly made a dent in my chicken, but were offered a complimentary dessert of their popular Zeppoles - cinnamon dusted ricotta doughnuts served warm with a vanilla custard and a salted caramel sauce. It was mostly cheese with just enough flour to hold it together - light and airy like an angel singing. Wonderful finish.
Zeppoles with two sweet sauces were like heaven on earth. This is a half order, FYI.
But the best thing about the entire evening was the gracious, over the top perfectly teamed service - everyone stepping in to take care of every detail to ensure that our time at 15 Church was not just dinner out, but an amazing experience in all respects. This is service like it was meant to be - truly outstanding. Thank you, everyone, for a wonderful meal.

Dinner for two with tax was $119.85 plus tip. Five stars, the moon and seven planets.

Zena, Goddess of Fire

Oh yeah and a couple of chocolate truffles gratis too. I ate two. FF only got one.  (:

1 comment:

Burnt My Fingers said...

Love the service at 15 Church. So glad you had a good experience.