A new season means new beginnings, and chefs are happy to unveil autumnal menu items. While late summer produce is still plentiful, fall flavors are making their way to the table. Casual or upscale, here are four restaurants experimenting with between-season ingredients.
Let's start with breakfast. Three Little Birds Café is jumping into fall with spicy pumpkin pancakes topped with candied walnuts, a guaranteed tummy-warmer.
For lunch, head over to HoM on King Street, where a new fall menu debuted this week. Go for the Jam Burger, a roasted garlic lamb burger with rosemary tomato jam, two pieces of fresh mozzarella, and pesto-dressed arugula. On the side, order the sweet potato fingerlings tossed in roasted garlic and served with truffled herb aioli and blue cheese.
On the lighter side, try the A&W Beet Salad, topped with arugula, goat cheese, and a root beer rosemary dressing. A new appetizer menu fuses goes deep and rich with dishes like duck confit sautéed in a creamy Thai red curry. Then there are the fries, which come loaded with shredded pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and garlic sour cream. Or, for a real taste of fall, get the butternut squash with balsamic-molasses, vanilla onion relish, and ancho chocolate goat cheese. HoM has become well-known for their ice cream sandwiches, and this weekend's fall-inspired special is a homemade banana bread stuffed with cookie dough ice cream.
If you're looking to get fancy for dinner, make a reservation at Circa 1886, where the chefs are beginning the transition from late summer too. The cool-season arugula tossed in oil serves as the bed for a roasted beet salad, which gets its texture from a chopped up pecan buttermilk cracker, which is similar to a pie crust. It serves as a nice contrast to the semisoft goat cheese aioli. The best part of the salad has to be the Bliss Maple Vinegar cloud. Sous chef Matt Pleasants tells us they whip Bliss 9 vinegar, a sherry vinegar aged in bourbon casks, with maple syrup to make the cloud, which is light and airy and gets gently placed atop the salad.
A seared antelope loin is a tasty cut that Pleasants recommends cooked to medium rare. "Antelope is very much a lean meat and it doesn't taste gamey," he promises. It's served with sweet potato hash and drizzled with a nutty brown butter sauce. Local chanterelles, mushrooms that thrive in the cooler weather, lighten the dish with their delicate flavor. It's all tied together by a demi-glace fortified with Banyuls, a cooking vinegar with a sweet, nutty flavor.
For dessert, try the white espresso crème brûlée, which combines a warm cinnamon brown butter financier (dome-shaped French tea cake) with the rich carmelized custard. To add an autumn touch, Executive Pastry Chef Scott Lovorn steeps the crème in roasted coffee. "The cooler weather inspires putting cinnamon and espresso together, like a cappuccino. The crème brûlée is the perfect platform to bring those flavors across."
And finally, Blossom Executive Chef Adam Close has expanded their Sunday brunch menu in anticipation of fall. One of the new Cast Iron Skillet Scramblers, called the Pork Trifecta (doesn't EVO have a trademark on that name?), combines housemade bacon, sausage, ham, caramelized onions, spinach, and aged cheddar. The scrambler is served with a choice between hash browns, fruit, or grits. The duck confit scrambler comes with mushrooms, smoked gouda, and crispy onions.