It’s been almost a year since I’ve been back to AMP150. And this rather lengthy delay between visits is in no way a reflection of the chef or his food. As I said after my first visit, this guy really can cook and I was wrong to judge too quickly. I guess what it comes down to, for me anyway, is the location. And I don’t mean the location inside the hotel (though that was a distraction at first). But rather the physical location (it’s really not near anything for us and rather off the beaten path, unlike other neighborhoods we like to frequent) as well as the location of basically eating inside the lobby. For as much as I talk about food, ambiance and decor are equally as important to the overall experience. Even dives have character and something that makes them quirky and unique. This space and overall setting do not match up to the level of chef Ellis Cooley’s culinary ability or create the type of environment I’d want to frequent often. But I will say this, add several of your oldest and dearest friends, great conversation, and of course, killer food, and the background eventually fades away.
On to what really matters, and what we are all still talking about – our meal. In all honestly, this is now two truly impressive experiences I’ve had at AMP. And I wasn’t alone. Our entire table, all first-time visitors, were equally as impressed. And we ate just about everything, plus a few sides the chef sent out. My favorite dishes of the night included the duck confit with Maytag polenta, edamame falafel, roasted cauliflower with goat cheese and beet juice, bok choy and the black mussels app with sausage. For dessert, I’d give just about anything for another helping of the maple bacon beignet. That dessert was hands-down the BEST dessert I have had in a very long time.
I wasn’t the only one with a nicely filled belly and big grin. There were empty plates and oohs and aahs from all parts of our table. All were impressed by what we just experienced and of course, had the same thought that I’ve been carrying since last year: now only if this chef would move into his own restaurant…
Fingers crossed. But in the meantime, and despite its overall atmosphere, I’m not waiting another year to go back. The food is just way too good.