Sunday, November 15, 2009

Scott Parker's Chicken Skins 'n' Such

If you have ever read this blog before, then it's obvious that I love pork. Also no secret is my passion for pork skin. In fact, now that I'm on the topic, I love the skin of other animals equally as well. Especially chickens. There is something really satisfying about biting into crisp, fresh-roasted chicken skin. And of course, it goes without saying, that fried chicken skin is one of food's finest indulgences. And as much as I love these things, I have a friend, Michael, who takes it to another level. Where that level is on the spectrum of enjoyment to unhealthy obsession is not exactly clear, but one thing is for certain: Michael is not healthy. In fact, we used to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet Sunday brunch at a Southern food restaurant (unfortunately, not in Denver), and my friend, Michael, would, with no sign of shame or remorse, pile his plate full of fried-chicken and proceed to eat nothing but the skins. Suffice to say that the rest of us felt some amount of shame to make up for his shamelessness, and the pleasure-filled sounds (moans) he made while eating, caused us to turn away in some degree of embarrassment. Yet, despite that, I have rarely seen a man get so much pleasure out of food, and I will always take something good away from that amazing display of gluttony.

What's more, ever since that day, Michael has had a dream of opening a restaurant that served up this sort of pleasure.  The name was conceived later that evening over drinks: "Big Fat Mike's Chicken Skins 'n' Such". And that about sums it up; "such", being, of course, any other food pleasure that makes you happy. Now, Michael has no business opening a restaurant, and he certainly never will, but if he did, he would do right to hire chef Scott Parker of Table 6 as his chef.


I ended up eating Scott Parker's brilliant food at Table 6 the other night through invitation by the lovely Sam Adams brewing company, who were promoting their Barrel Room Collection (which gladly will be released semi-exclusively in Denver any day now). But back to the chicken skin. Really, I don't know if Chef Parker would like to cook in my friend's fantasy restaurant, or if he would enjoy cooking whatever "such" turned out to be, but one dish he created that night indicates to me that he just might. The "such" in this case were sweetbreads. Sweetbreads wrapped in chicken skin and deep-fried. Served over a bed of pumpkin-rissoto. I think. I could have gotten that last part wrong, because Mr. Parker had me at, "sweetbreads wrapped in chicken skin", and after he spoke those words, I was immediately lost in a Homer-esque daydream sequence where little animal entrails were flying around over a deep-fryer with wings made of chicken skin.

It tasted as good as it sounds (that is, if it sounds good to you). If it doesn't sound good to you, or if the though of sweetbreads makes you a little queasy, or if you are someone that takes the skin off of chicken, let me say that there were a couple skeptical "foodies" (I use that term begrudgingly and skeptically--hence the " ") at my table who enjoyed it enough to clean their plates. And not only was this ingenious invention of chicken skin and such delicious on it's own, but it made the Sam Adams' Old Fezziwig beer, a standout by itslef, even better.


What it comes down to is that Scott Parker and his crew know how to cook--and have a fun, free, fresh approach to food. The rest of the menu that night was equally as good, and each of the five dishes paired extremely well with the corresponding beer. It was fun to experience the inspiration of a chef and his kitchen as I did with this five-course masterpiece. Two other highlights were a pork belly confit and a pastrami roasted rib eye. The pork belly was succulent and served in a white pear soup; the balance of sweet and savory perfect, and the dish as refreshing as it was succulent. The rib eye, was, as another table-mate put it, a dish, "that I will never forget." The meat was perfectly rare and the traditional horseradish mashed potatoes and onion jus were just right alongside the bold, yet familiar, pastrami crust.


The rest of the menu that night was just as impressive. And for our final course, we had a dessert that came straight off the regular menu (albeit with a little Imperial stout thrown in for good measure). A chocolate "frosty", like you used to get at Wendys--but slightly (a lot-- about 800x according to our server) better-- complete with delicious, crisp french fries, meant, of course, to dip in the shake before eating.

I have since been back to Table 6 with my wife, and among all the pleasure-filled plates we enjoyed that evening, I was especially taken with the chicken liver mousse. (If you remember, I got a little carried away with a chicken liver mousse in Toronto's La Cava). Now back in Denver and grounded firmly in that experience, I very casually ordered and ate the chicken liver mousse at Table 6, which is blended with hazelnuts and topped with a caramelized onion jam-type spread. The mousse by itself was a beautiful thing, and though now I won't go into dirty details of how good it was, let's just say that I would brush my teeth with this mousse, too. And the surprise signature touch that still has me smiling were little pieces of fried chicken skins alongside the toasted bread.

It's not just the liberal use of chicken skin that will keep me coming back to Table 6 again and again. Everything I had was well conceived, well executed and delicious. Another thing that impressed me was the service, quality and care that I had during the private media tasting menu (where you expect a restaraunt to be at it's best), was just as good when my wife and I strolled in at the end of service late on a Saturday night. There is a sense of comfort and welcoming that is soul warming. Owner Aaron Foreman and chef Scott Parker have created something special. The fact that these were my first times eating at Table 6 is more a testament to my lameness and ignorance rather than anything having to do with this fine eating establishment. Table 6 is a gem in a city full of great dining, and let's all hope Aaron and Scott stay here for a long time to come.

Visit Table 6 at 609 Corona St.
(303) 831-8800
www.table6denver.com

Table 6 on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. bring in the such....and sweetbreads

    ReplyDelete
  2. But do you like raw pork juice on your lettuce?

    I don't. Take a look at his most recent health department inspection for Table 6.

    Quite frankly, I think restaurant reviewers need to read up on this stuff before they review a restaurant. It's irresponsible not to take the cleanliness of a restaurant when reviewing it. There is no such thing as a fine dining restaurant with a filthy kitchen.
    >
    > http://www.denvergov.org/eh/tabid/435234/Default.aspx?establismentId=8971&InspectionDate=8/25/2010
    > Inspector Comments:
    >
    > 03e - Potentially hazardous foods are being held improperly at temperatures greater than 41** F during cold storage. Cooked meats with broth and butter measured between 45-46F in the refrigerator at the rear of the facility, and employee states meat/broth food products have been stored in the refrigerator over night. Turn down or repair refrigerator to hold potentially hazardous food products cold at 41F or less. 03f - Food product thermometer not routinely calibrated to be accurate to +/- 2**F. Digital food thermometer measured 37F in ice water. Food product thermometers shall be routinely calibrated to be accurate to +/-2F. 08a - Toxic products are improperly stored in the facility. Glass cleaner was observed being stored next to sugar packets on the metal storage rack, and butane fuel was observed being above and next to spices and oils. Toxic products shall be stored below and away from food and food contact surfaces. Issue corrected on site. 09b - Food is stored uncovere
    > d and/or unprotected from contamination. Raw pork bellies were observed being stored above lettuce in the reach in, and other raw meat was observed being stored above berries in the 2 door refrigerator. Raw meat shall be stored below and away from ready to eat food. Issue corrected on site. 11a - Refrigeration thermometer is not provided in refrigerator in the rear of the facility. 12a - Food-contact surfaces are not clean. Clean lids were observed being stored in a soiled container and food debris was observed on spices and canned goods. Clean food contact surfaces. 13b - Single-service cups are improperly stored on the floor in the basement/dry storage area. Single service articles shall be stored at least 6 inches off the floor. Issue corrected on site. 14d - Lights are not adequately shielded in the basement/dry storage area over sugar packets and other single service articles. 14f - Storage of personal belongings in unapproved areas. Tools and other personal items were
    > observed being stored on top of the ice machine. Personal items shall be stored below and away from food and food contact surfaces. Issue corrected on site.
    >

    ReplyDelete

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