Shefzilla shows off the new book & Heidi's space
An elegantly dressed man in mirror aviator shades guarded the entrance to the stony patio. A small crowd gathered on the sidewalk in Uptown. Hipsters, tweed-suited men, and bedazzled, cowboy-booted women were all waiting their turn to grab a copy of the cookbook Shefzilla: Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home and get their first glimpse inside the hotly anticipated reincarnation of Heidi's.
Chef Stewart and Heidi Woodman greeted guests. The patio was lit with construction lights, and a table was set up selling the book and giving away small Heidi's tote bags. Servers flitted about with glasses of wine from Alexis Bailly vineyards and trays of the lettuce soup in little paper cup shots: seafoam in color, frothy, spicy, and full of leafy green flavor.
Stepping inside the building, it's evident how much more work they have ahead of them. It's still mostly concrete walls, some cracked windows, and the bare, wooden bones beginning to rise from the dust. Despite how rough the space may be, the room was warm with low conversation and rising excitement over the book, the food, and the promise of a new neighborhood hot spot. Guests toured the space, noting the board displaying the fixtures, carpet, bright red chandeliers, and planned layout. A DJ was set up in the front area spinning Beastie Boys, P-Funk and a little Digital Underground.
Out back, in what will be a generous (for Uptown) parking lot, the Chef Shack truck was humming, turning out one tasty dish from the book after another. The cumin-spiced lamb chops had a beautifully seasoned char crust on the outside that gave way to melty, soft, succulent flesh cooked to medium-rare perfection. A swipe of bright green cilantro-spiked pesto brightened up the little savory meat pop. There were the spicy, saucy pulled pork sandwiches with cool pickled slaw on small, fresh buns. Then came the liver (ours was a bit overdone and minerally) on a buttery, crisp crostini.
Throughout the evening Chef Woodman stood greeting guest after guest, signing books with his signature humor, taking a moment to speak with each person there, brimming with contagious joy.
The evening wound down with a butter-redolent almond cake accompanied by orange-infused Ratafia wine, Bailly's chocolate port, and Dogwood espresso. If this is what they do with a bare bones space, we can't wait to see what the full restaurant brings.
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