sawyer and michaud made me dinner

Thank goodness for maternity pants.

On Thursday, Jamie and I had dinner at The Greenhouse Tavern. But not just any dinner. A six-course, family style meal featuring two dishes at each course. One prepared by Sawyer; the other via chef Jeff Michaud of Osteria in Philadelphia. The two became friends after cooking up a frenzy on Iron Chef. The evening felt like we were in scenes from Big Night.

The eating extravaganza started off with a cocktail hour (Old School Ohio punch) and several stationary dishes, including my faves: involtini di muratori with mortadella and grilled stuffed calamari with seafood boudin blanc. Another highlight was all the vinegars Sawyer had on display for sampling (the champagne was my favorite). He’s really perfected these vinegars from when I first recall trying them at Bar Cento. His enthusiasm and knowledge on the subject matter is something else and almost infectious. In fact, talking to him throughout the night on a variety of topics was rather intriguing. He’s quite the walking Wikipedia.

For dinner, we thoroughly enjoyed every bite and every dish – plus accompanying wines (we bought a bottle of each so I could really enjoy post baby, like the 09 Billaud Simon Chablis, 07 Molnar Family pinot noir and 07 Chateau Richard Saussignac). But of course there were standouts, including my favorite course – the first course: Sawyer’s Ohio Chevre salad and Michaud’s wild Maryland shrimp with this amazing guanciale and zolfini bean ragout. Now, I have had this Chevre salad countless times and I just can’t get enough. I wish it was permanently back on his menu. I’ve been a fan since he first shared it at a pre Greenhouse tasting and Brooklyn Beer dinner at Viking.

Other standouts included the whole salt roasted veta la palma sea bream (equally as enjoyable was watching this fish come out baked in this massive tomb of salt then witness the chef delicately carve it out and serve), and the pan braised qual with faro, hedgehogs, porchinis, morely, baby peas, asparagus and fiddleheads. This dish gets you excited for spring!

For desserts, I was quite smitten with Michaud’s velvety polenta budino with gianduia mousse and candied hazelnuts. I have never sampled anything close to this, and hope I don’t have to wait another 34 years to do so again. It was silky and sweet, but not overly so. Of course, I also enjoyed his taleggio fonduta with porcini frittelle. Another unique dish that I couldn’t help but force-feed a few more bites of (literally, at this point everyone was beyond Thanksgiving-style full).

Granted, aside from a few sips here and there, I didn’t get to fully enjoy all the accompanying drinks with each course (though Jamie did, as he continues to fully ambrace having a 9-month designated driver). The one drink that made our table chuckle, and watch as one guest downed, was the Jersey Speed Ball, a concoction of espresso and Coke, marking the first time Coke has ever been served in the Greenhouse.

What a great evening this was. We saw some familiar faces and made some new friends. We tried dishes that were firsts for both of us and saw two great chefs and their teams demonstrate what it’s like to truly love your craft and have passion for great food. It was a well-executed night that was no doubt enjoyed by all who attended, especially these two.

(photos courtesy of Chef’s Widow and Greenhouse Tavern. For more, click here).


  1. Posted March 5, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure I’m going to be cursing you in a few years when I finally admit my addiction to Jersey Speedballs has ruined my life.

    Seriously, no one should have ever mentioned this existed to me. Because I’m pretty sure I will go buy Coke tonight. How could I not?

  2. Posted March 5, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Such a great time! It was nice meeting you and Jamie…hope to see you soon.

  3. Claudia
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    It was a great dinner and it was very nice to meet you. Good Luck with the 2nd half of your pregnancy. Maybe we’ll meet at a dinner in the fall and can enjoy lots of wine and make the boys drive us home!