Dinner With Friends - Ebi Chop Bar Pop Up
Chef pop ups will always have a special place in my heart. I appreciate the creativity that chefs are able to employ. More than that though, I love hearing the stories behind what they’ve created.
I was excited about the Ebi Chop Bar pop up because of the chance to travel through the African Diaspora without leaving the state. Being Jamaican, I’m always fond of learning more about how food ended up in certain places. When I viewed the menu, there were many things that were familiar to me and I was excited to hear and taste the interpretation from places I’ve been (Brazil) to where I was going (Ghana) to where I lived (the American South) as well as food that I grew up eating (Trinidad).
The menu and the chef himself holds promise, but after 6 courses, I left feeling underwhelmed and disappointed. The use of spices like cardamom and allspice that were sprinkled throughout (what seemed like every dish) was overkill. Maybe it was the technique that was used when applying the spice- ground instead of using it for aromatics- but I found myself dreading most of the bites for fear that I’d end up losing all the flavor on my palette.
The stand out dish was the Catfish Espuma with Pork Shank. It was really flavorful and all of the ingredients meshed well.
The cocktails were the highlight of the evening, starting with a take on a daiquiri that featured a toasted coconut rum with lime juice, angostura bitters and aquafaba.
I’m excited to see how Chef Cleophus matures in the next few years. I think the concept was great even though the execution didn’t leave me satisfied. There is definitely a void that needs to be filled for well constructed food that tells the stories of the African diaspora.
Akara // Sweet Chili Garlic, Cod Fish Bacon
Doubles (Trinidad + Tobago) // Coconut, Chickpeas, Green Mango, Shiitakes
Duck Ham & Cornbread (Southern American) // Green Apples, SOrrel, Celery, Robiola
Catfish Espuma (Southern American) // Pork Shank, Cabbage, Turnips, Dukkah
King Crab & Red Red (Ghana) // Turmeric Sabayon, Tamarind, Plantain
Cassava Cookie & Mamey Sorbet (Sentral & South America and West Indies)