Between courses, we were thrilled to receive a visit from the vivacious Chef K and Brian Malarkey, who posed for photos and even shared some gossip about happenings behind the scenes on The Taste (Gregg and Sarah sitting in a tree...). Chef K even told us some fun stories about her longtime experience as the personal chef of actor Charlie Sheen, who had been rumored to be visiting Burlap that evening.
For our first course, we were presented with a series of snacks and shares. An artful plate of lavender cured snapper, rhubarb, olive oil preserved strawberries and black pepper meringue had elegantly subtle flavors that came together for a refreshing dish. On a completely opposite spectrum, savory lamb poutine was topped with petite basque cheese and served messily over triple cooked fries. This dish was comforting and delicious, with bold flavors from the poutine mixing perfectly with what we deemed to be quite possibly the best fries we've ever had. The third dish was a pair of adobo chicken liver arancini balls, fried golden and served on a smattering of onion confit. Each dish from this course was awesome in a very different way, just like the Lost Abbey Red Barn ale they were served with.
From the land, we began with crispy brussels and fried pig ears in a Pedro Ximenez vin reduction accompanied by sliced radishes. This dish was my least favorite of the night, as crunchy cartilage isn't really what I'm into, and the flavor of the dish as a whole failed to come together. If the pig ears weren't intimidating enough, next we had braised oxtail over pea risotto, garnished with pea tendrils, edible flowers, and topped with a charred onion. I'm fairly new to adventurous eating, and while this dish tasted delicious, the vertebrae bones at the center of my cut of oxtail was more than I could handle. It wouldn't have been an issue if the bone was removed or the meat was melt in your mouth tender, but I couldn't get over it as is. All that said, my date did seem to thoroughly enjoy the oxtail. For me, the '09 Syrah from Barrel was the star of this course - bold and beautiful.
Like the start, dessert was perfect. Deserving of her Forbes recognition, Chef Rachel King's concoction featured caramelized white chocolate mouse, vanilla poached rhubarb, fresh cara cara orange slices and a scoop of pistachio ice cream. After a summer in Italy, I became a pistachio ice cream (gelato) snob, and this was one of the best ever, not to outshine the other components of the dish, each lively and delicious and all coming together for a fun and playful ending to a glorious dining experience. Add a house made bubblegum rum punch to the ambrosia, and a grand finale it was.
Malarkey's restaurant concepts certainly combine entertainment with eating, and Burlap has one of the finest chef's in town manning its brigade, so the addition of Chef K only made the night that much more exciting. For $75 plus $25 for drink pairings, this meal was an event to cherish. Thank you, Team Malarkey!
Burlap is located at 12995 El Camino Real in Del Mar.