The semester is gearing up over at the Culinary Institute. I know this because Scott Stefanelli just sent me the menu for 181 Palmer, and it's going to be a tasty few months in the student-run kitchen over on the Palmer Campus.
First off, Stefanelli was able to get his mitts on a lamb from Craig Rogers' Border Springs farm in Virginia. This is prime product that's being used by the top chefs in the country, which means his students are getting some seriously relevant experience. On the menu, they've got confit of Border Springs Lamb with smoked eggplant purée, Anson Mills farro salad, sheep’s milk ricotta, and pickled fennel. Sounds tasty.
Another nice entrée option is a market-fresh fish, which will change each day according to availability, providing a very real-world sort of experience for the young cooks over there.
Students will also prepare a grilled Keegan-Filion Farm chicken breast with whipped creamer potatoes, sautéed spring greens, and maple and bacon broth, in addition to housemade ricotta gnudi (yum) served with braised North Carolina rabbit, wild mushrooms, and baby artichokes. Sounds like something you might encounter on the Macintosh menu, doesn't it?
Stefanelli is also teaching his charges the art of pickling and curing. The appetizer menu has a charcuterie plate and pork rillettes that are made in-house. You can also opt for a blue crab and arugula salad or a salad of young spring lettuces with sunchoke puree and pickled Japanese mushrooms.
The third course, which is included in your $15 lunch, has some great options. There's a meyer lemon and pistachio cake, a chocolate and banana cream parfait, an artisanal cheese selection, and an Anson Mills cornmeal Baba au Rum. I can't say I know what that is, but I bet it's gonna be saturated in liquor. My kind of dessert.
Now if all this talk of student cooks has you skeptical, let me assure you that Stefanelli runs a tight ship over there at the Palmer Campus. The dining room is top-notch, run by students who are learning the art of hospitality, and the kitchen is as tight as any you'd find in town, but at this one, you get to watch what they're doing via closed circuit televisions in the dining room. And the kicker is that the three-course lunch is $15 and incudes a non-alcoholic beverage of choice.
Reservations are required. Call (843) 820-5087 or visit www.opentable.com.