Chef Joncarl Lachman’s got a lot going on. With installations currently happening in his newest spot, Restaurant Neuf, it’s only about a month before opening for dinner service. Yet, he’s also cooking nonstop at Noord. Lucky for us and our guests, he joined us at COOK to preview Neuf’s North African fare.
We started with a roasted fennel and frisée salad, tossed with grapefruit, toasted cashews, and fennel pureed with olive oil as well as roasted in the salad.
Next, Joncarl cooked prawns “en papillote” with fennel, heirloom tomatoes, and batonnet of mirepoix (carrots, onions, and celery). These were seasoned with Ras el Hanout, which Joncarl explained was a North African spice mix that is different depending on who blends the spices (it translates to “head of the shop” and is traditionally simply the blend of the best spices a store had to offer at the time). Subtle, slightly sweet, and warming, it was the perfect flavor profile for these prawns.
After the prawns (which barely lasted long enough to photograph before everyone had all but licked their plates) we were served Stuffed Pepper Quail over Harira with house-made bread fresh from Noord. We know your next question– what’s harira? A traditional North African soup, often spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger or turmeric. Joncarl’s version had prunes, lemon, chickpeas, and caraway as well.
Stuffed, we just barely managed to find room Joncarl’s perfect after-dinner dish: Moroccan spiced dark chocolate bark with caraway as well as other spices, and dried fruits. On the side went fresh figs and honey, all of which we shared with final sips of wine and hearty thanks to Joncarl.
As usual, another beautiful meal with new flavors and combinations that leave us ready to try even more. All our best to Joncarl– make sure to save us a table at Neuf!