Saturday, July 9, 2011


In a few short months, Haddingtons has generated a buzz in the local foodie community. Located on West 6th and Nueces, in the home of the former Thai Tara, the building has been transformed into a tavern with different dining rooms. It's been on my short list of places to go and have a meal, but I haven't quite made it yet. But with thanks to the PR/marketing firm of Crave Communications, who specialize in the local food service industry, I was invited to a tasting from their new chef, James Corwell. 

The event was set up in the Fox Tavern room, a dining space complete with it's own bar, where the bartenders worked furiously throughout the event, and the waitstaff were gracious to hold plates as some of us jumped in (yes, somewhat frantically) for pictures. It was a crowded room, and fortunately, I ran into Miss Smart and a friend of hers who was visiting from out of town, along with Aimee Wenske, a local food photographer.  We pretty quickly realized we were on the wrong side of the room, and needed to be closer to the entrance if we had hopes of getting some of the bites of food, much less decent pictures! And while I was able to succeed in the former, the latter was much more difficult (for me at least!). Because we were standing, it was hard to juggle my Moscow Mule and take a picture while other people were grabbing the bites of food that were being passed.

It all began with Miss Smart running back over to the bar with a couple of gougere -- think savory cream puffs, these with parmesan and pepper. From there, we had the corn fritters that had just a tiny sliver of cured salmon and the heirloom melon balls with duck prosciutto and a jellied duck consomme. The fritters were very light, and great by themselves, but that salmon really pushed it to a new level! And a nice twist on a typical melon and pork prosciutto.
Along came peach, melon, and ginger aqua frescas. I didn't really get much ginger essence in mine, and while I liked it, it would be a great summertime refresher had it been really chilled.
Next was a crostini with duck liver mousse and an apple salad. I liked this flavor and texture combo. Then the duck and fois gras meatball, with a dried (or fresh, but poached?) cherry on top. My first one didn't have the cherry, but the second piece did, and the cherry gave it a nice pop. (And a photographic failure, unless you'd like to see the dark, blurry image.)
The plate in the back had the fantastic lamb merquez sausage bites on a little savory cream puff; I don't think these were the same as the gougere. Loved these, but I do love lamb! The plate in front are chunks of fried green tomatoes, done with a wonderfully light breading (panko?) and a chili soy dipping sauce. These two dishes I'd say were the stars of the evening, along with the corn fritter and melon ball.
There was also a tuna tartar, done in little cucumber cups; the menu for the event said it had a meyer lemon creme fraiche on it. It was a small little bite, and something texturally didn't work for me, nor did I get a lemony flavor. (Sorry, no decent picture.) And the strawberries with a honey gelee, which were interesting, but consensus in our little group was the gelee was too thick.
Finally, the milk punch capped off the tastings, a combo of brandy, nutmeg, and frothy milk, not unlike eggnog, except milk, not egg. I think of milk punch as a very southern drink, so I am not totally sure if I'd call it a tavern drink. Ahhh, but the chef is most recently from New Orleans, so there's the connection!
I briefly met the chef, though didn't get a chance to talk with him, but nice he was out of his chef whites and milling about the packed room. So I still need to get to Haddingtons for a real meal, though I now have a much better sense as to what all the fuss is about. Thank you to Haddingtons and Crave for a tasty evening!


  1. Great to finally get to meet you at Haddingtons! Glad you had a good night! Look forward to getting to see you again soon! Cat

  2. Great to meet you to, and thanks again for having me! :)