Another Day in Poe's Kitchen at The Rattlesnake

Chef Brian Poe shows you the world in the back of the house.

On Going Wild with John Dory: A Year in Poe’s Kitchen

What a difference a year makes.

As I was beginning to revamp the menu for spring, I happened to look at my inventory sheets from March 2009:

MEAT
Chicken tenders
Burgers
Hot dogs

PRODUCE
Lettuce
Tomato
Onion

FISH
Calamari
Cod

MISC.
Premade pizza shells

My list this year reads:

MEAT
Rattlesnake               Leg of lamb
Duck                           Buffalo
Boar                            Alligator
Venison                     Sweetbreads
Wagyu                        Veal bones
Ribeye                        Beef tenderloin
Chorizo                      Speck
Foie gras

PRODUCE
Peruvian potato        Yukon Gold potato
Watercress                 Frisée
Baby arugula             Baby tatsoi
Chocolate mint         Purple asparagus
Chiles: cascabel, guajillo, ancho, Anaheim, poblano, jalapeno, serrano, habanero

FISH
Cod                              Salmon
Tuna                           Shrimp
U/10 scallops          Mussels
Clams: Wellfleet, Ipswich
Oysters: Cape, Duxbury
Lobster

With all of these ingredients, we can go in most any direction our culinary hearts desire. My staff and I are constantly trying to push ourselves forward; we do our damnedest not to repeat anything on the Unleashed menu (though we have some favorites that bring us comfort each season).

Even so, every time I look at an inventory sheet, I ask myself what might be missing—and then I try to fill the gaps in ways that will be as fun for us in the kitchen as they are exciting for you in the dining room.

Take last night. At midnight, I called in my meat and fish orders—and at the end of both messages, I said, “I don’t wish to confuse matters, but if you could just do me one favor—please send me 5 pounds of the freshest ingredient you have in stock. I don’t care what it is—surprise me!” Then I called the produce company, and asked them to send me 1 pound each of 5 surprise ingredients.

This morning is wild; we’re gearing up for a busy lunch. There’s a photo shoot with Tony Caz of the Patriot Ledger on the roofdeck before all hell breaks loose on the line. We cook like mad until 3:15 pm, and now I’m looking at my grab bag of surprises. Yes—there’s a little John Dory, some morels….I’ve got it!

First I’ll season the fish with shiitake dust, wrap it in ramps, and grill it. Then I’ll serve it on a brioche bun with watercress and tomato. On the side, 3-potato salad with Meyer lemon, purple asparagus–morel salsa, and crumbled feta in a smoked Kalamata olive vinaigrette. Voilà—my new fish sandwich.

The opportunities I’ve had this past year to surprise my coworkers, customers, and even myself by transforming classic bar snacks into a wild new category of eclectic eats have been tremendous. Thanks to all who’ve accompanied me on this crazy culinary journey! That includes the exciting new crew who’s helping me make jalapeno sugar for our white chocolate ganache cheesecake with jalapeno lime and strawberry sauce as well as a habanero-infused margarita; for the complete current Unleashed menu, click here!

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