Taste the Season! Cooper’s Mill’s Chef’s Table Nails Eating Local

I had the pleasure of dining at Cooper’s Mill’s Chef’s Table and experienced a five course dinner, featuring Executive Chef Chris Estrada’s favorite “goodbye winter” ingredients. The menu took us on a tour from the garden to the bakery and everything in between. Although each dish was unique, I liked that every ingredient was notably fresh and sourced locally. It gave the menu a theme, despite the wide range in flavors.

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We started the evening with a homemade strawberry basil martini, garnished with chunky sugar crystals. The flavor of the cocktail was good but overall a bit sweet. I suggested that maybe the rim be garnished with something more savory like a basil and salt blend.

a strawberry basil cosmo kicked off the Chef’s Table

From the Garden

spinach radish greens & lolla rossa: farro, heirloom carrots, striped beets, firefly farms black & bleu, rhubarb vinaigrette

This was my first deconstructed salad. While beautiful on the rustic, farm-fresh looking plate, it was hard to enjoy the salad as one. Individually, the beets heirloom carrots were delicious. The greens were fresh and crispy, but I wish the salad was served in a bowl so I could have tossed the dressing evenly. However, the creamy vinaigrette was so tasty I didn’t mind having sole forkfuls of it.

From the Farm

Cooper’s Mill’s famous tot sampler features cauliflower, kennebec potato and sweet potato tots served over awesome sauce

I really liked the original take on this standard comfort food. The cauliflower tot was airy and light. The kennebec potato tot was truly done to perfection. Just the right amount of crunchy, crispiness on the batter and a mouthwatering blend of parmesan and potato inside. I’m not ashamed to say this, it would have paired exceptionally with some ketchup! Cooper’s Mill is welcome to take a stab at their own ketchup recipe – I’d love to see it with any tomato based condiment. The sweet potato tot was great. It was meant to be eaten with the awesome sauce. The sweet potato balanced the spiciness of the dipping sauce. I was more than thrilled when a second round of these came out!

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From the Sea

smoked virginia bass – spicy plum jam, candied kumquat, quinoa pilaf

This was my favorite course. I don’t typically choose to order white fish because I fear it won’t have enough flavor, or it will be flaky and fall apart off my fork. Cooper’s Mill’s smoked bass defied both these fears! Hooray! The spicy plum jam gave kick to each bite. The bass maintained a tender consistency and little smokey flavor. The quinoa added some bites of texture to the entree and really rounded out the whole dish.

From the Pasture

open flame roasted rabbit – spicy plum jam, hominy cake

I’d never had rabbit before! So this was exciting both because it was new and because I liked it! I wasn’t sure what to expect of rabbit meat, so I was glad when it was heavier and more flavorful than other poultry like chicken or turkey, yet not potent with one obvious flavor. It was roasted well, the meat maintained moisture and a warm temperature. We were instructed to try the rabbit with a bite of the hominy cake. So I did, for one bite. That cake was so delicious! I cleaned it off the plate in just two more bites. No time for adding rabbit meat. If you have the will power, I’d suggest halving the hominy cake so you can at least enjoy a few bites of rabbit and cake together unlike I did!

From the Bakery

berry & peach cobbler with bourbon vanilla ice cream

Finally! A chef who understands that I do not want to choose between the fruits in my cobblers. Yes, yes, yes to a warm, cozy berry peach cobbler topped with a cool, creamy-bourbony, vanilla bean ice cream. Absolutely nothing but love for this dish. I overheard one of the other diner’s exclaim “I need one of these at 5 p.m. everyday when I come home from work.” Retweet.

The beautiful presentation and sophisticated service at the Chef’s Table deserves recognition. Each dish was carefully plated and served. An experience like this would be great for a special occasion, which is every meal for me. Make your own reservations to sit at the Cooper’s Mill Chef’s Table here. This post is sponsored by Cooper’s Mill.

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