Chicken. Liver. Mousse. Tart.
These are not words that incite riotous uproar. These are not words that cause customers to organize themselves into a single file line and wait hungrily for several hours. These are not words that dinner-goers quote to make non-dinner-goers jealous of the meal they missed. These are words that, in fact, should live very far apart. But in the hands of Jim Christiansen, recently nominated one of the top ten chefs in the country by Food and Wine Magazine, these words become pure poetry.
See also: 6: Brasserie Zentral's chicken dinner[jump]
From the opening week at Heyday, it was clear that this starter would become one of their signatures. The initial version of the dish was jarring in appearance -- blanketed in the black dust of ground charred onion -- which only contributed to its intrigue. Crisp, buttery pastry shell is filled with a chilled, savory, whipped-up pate. The richness of both components might seem like it would be overwhelming but the textural contrast between the crumbly crust and elegant mousse lends balances everything out.
Just like Scott Seekins' minimalist uniform, this dish is given to change with the seasons. Christiansen has retired the onion dust for the time being in favor of a more colorful preparation. The base tart remains the same, but the top is decorated to look like a spring garden all in bloom, with raw vegetable rosettes, stalks of fresh herbs, crunchy curls of radish, and the itsy bitsiest carrots you ever did see. It's an appetizer that is equal parts modern and throwback, as surprising as it is reliable -- which pretty well sums up the restaurant that serves it, too.
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