Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where to Eat: Produce-Driven Small plates @ UMAMIcatessen

The Eats: Swine, burgers and produce-driven small plates 

The Neighborhood: Downtown 

The Vibes: Woodsy dining hall style; casual, Top 40 music

Good for: A chance to taste seasonal autumn fare

With-Whom-To-Go: Popular date spot; accommodating for large groups

The $ Factor: Literally all over the board, ranging from sides that start at $3 to complete dinners that are $65

The 4-1-1: UMAMIcatessen is the creation from the Umami Burger team. Opening downtown earlier in 2012, the space Is actually the combination of five different kitchens, a bar and plenty of eye-catching contraptions...

I’ll Be Back…: For the macaroni salad

When I first heard about UMAMIcatessen, I thought: Wow. This place has a lot of...pork.

The restaurant says it uses every single part of the pig, and I believe it. I mean, swine manages to finagle its way in everything: fries, burgers, appetizers – even alcohol (the Bourbon Pig cocktail is a must to try, even if it's just to say you tried it).

But this fall, UMAMIcatessen introduced several new produce-driven – and pork-free – small plates to its menu.

Having a chance to experience the new items last month during a special invite, I was quite impressed with what I found.

The eight new dishes each had their own little personality, each incorporating very distinctive seasonings, spices and flavors. I also thought they were well-proportioned; ordering one to two nicely compliments a burger as a healthier alternative to fries, and getting two to three makes a pretty hearty, complete meal. And just as importantly, their price point is competitive – they're $3 to $5 bucks.

I tried all eight, and below are the ones I personally thought were the tastiest:

The Roasted Beets: incorporates three types of beets cooked two different ways that are rich ruby red, golden yellow and pale pink. They're very tender and flavorful, and the creamy dill creme fraiche adds a subtle flavor.

The Macaroni Salad: is not traditional macaroni salad. It has a flair to it, with a light Japanese dressing and raw veggies, including carrots and cabbage.

The Brussels sprouts: It's so stunning to me that Brussels sprouts have been so in this season. UMAMIcatessen sprinkles theirs with a light Parmesan cheer and lightly coats them in a honey mustard sauce.

The Quinoa Salad: It's hard for most people – including chefs – to make quinoa well, but the chefs here have succeeded. They've blended it with bell pepper, chickpeas and other veggies, and tossed it all in a citrus vinaigrette.

I applaud UMAMIcatessen for not only catering to the ravenous carnivore, but to the ravenous vegetarian/vegan as well. So the next time you're looking to please all palates, I highly recommend this downtown eatery. See you there soon!

For more information:
UMAMIcatessen; Facebook, @UmamiBurger

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