I knew being invited to a media lunch preview was pretty awesome. What I didn’t realize, was that it would be such a lengthy experience! This bitch has a day job! But I did appreciate the effort and certainly the exciting items we we sampled at the preview of Private | Social on McKinney Avenue in Uptown.
A little background:
Chef Tiffany Derry was a contestent on Bravo’s Top Chef series and now she’s staking her claim to a spot on McKinney Avenue just south of Hall Street. The space resembles Central 214’s space with elegant mixed metals and a soothing palette of neutrals. Like a clean, white plate, the space is set to let the food shine.
“Chefs are rock stars. There’s the band,” Derry explained as she gestured toward the kitchen. The chef’s room features a huge picture window showcasing “the band” to Derry’s rockstardom.
Chef Derry is a shining star herself, with grace, humor and quiet confidence in her work. First, she detailed the restaurant’s space and layout. There’s a “private” space featuring intimate tables and the chef’s room, as well as a “social” space with communal seating and a bar featuring mixologist Rocco, who describes himself as an “accomplished bullshit artist.” Menus in the two spaces are different, but can cross over if desired by a guest on either side. Both feature locally-sourced ingredients with an elegant, southern flair.
Okay, okay let’s see what graced my tastebuds yesterday!
Servers were friendly and plentiful, but there were a few hiccups with timing and necessary items like champagne glasses, tea sweeteners and tea spoons on the table.
Serious and composed, Chef Derry checked each dish before it was passed out.
First course: Top Chef Pork Buns
A winning item on the show, Derry updated this dish with pork belly which looked perfectly cooked and crispy. The slaw was spicy and sweet and the bun was gooey in a good way.
Second: Pastrami Cured Hiramasa
Okay I admit I had to look up what hiramasa was. It’s a fish from the yellowtail family. This genius dish features two sashimi-thin slices cured in pastrami fashion, slightly smokey and flavorful. Then it was topped with a coriander vinaigrette, pickled chiles and tomato jam. It brought the heat and there were moments of fresh herbs like mint that suprised and delighted me.
Third: White Sturgeon
This intensely meaty fish was surrounded by a blue crab chowder that was studded with fingerling potatoes, chunks of pancetta and veggies in small dice, which was poured at the table.
Sexy sommelier D’Lynn Proctor poured elegant glasses of bubbly whose name started with “Louis Vuitton” and ended with “Chandon”. I was intrigued. And it was really excellent. Coming from someone less than enthusiastic about champagne in general, I would drink that again for sure. Especially when not on my lunch hour, and when poured by Proctor.
Fourth: Braised Oxtails
This savory treat featured meaty, shredded oxtail with perfectly cooked rapini and sheeps milk cheese atop gnudi, which I describe as dumplin’-like pillows of doughy, cheesy goodness. Try this when you go. Well, try everything.
Speaking of trying everything, we were given the opening menu for Private | Social as parting gifts. Starter tastes range from $12 to $15, soups and salads are $8 and $10, and entrees will set you back between $24 and $36.
Well, it was getting quite late and unfortunately, like I said, I have a day job. So, one last sip of champagne and I was out of there. Even without a taste of Tiffany’s Decadent Chocolate Cake with Chai Gelato, I felt like one lucky bitch.
You should all go visit Private | Social soon. Like, really soon. My only fear for this spot is that McKinney Avenue is a douche minefield and that those folks might stumble into Private | Social and claim it as their own. Get out there before that happens so you can let the delicious food shine without the aid of too much bling.