First Look: Sneak Peek of Little Country Gentleman

click to enlarge Heirloom tomato and compressed watermelon salad - Mabel Suen
Mabel Suen
Heirloom tomato and compressed watermelon salad

Ingredients like xantham gum and citric acid might sound scary when they pertain to the palate, but rest assured that at Little Country Gentleman (8135 Maryland Avenue; 314-725-0719), restaurateur and chef Mike Randolph's new concept set to replace Medianoche's progressive Mexican dinner spot, they're only there to help put the "art" back into culinary arts.

After Half & Half does its thing during the day, Randolph, along with his chef de cuisine Dale Beauchamp and sous chef Chip Bates, dive right into their precise food experiments with an emphasis on technique and presentation, tweaking here and there as they go.

click to enlarge (Left) Chef de cuisine Dale Beauchamp prepares carrot puree cooked sous vide in carrot juice with ginger and green cardamom. (Right) A seared walleye dish. - Mabel Suen
Mabel Suen
(Left) Chef de cuisine Dale Beauchamp prepares carrot puree cooked sous vide in carrot juice with ginger and green cardamom. (Right) A seared walleye dish.

With binding agents and aids like the ones listed above, they can do things like glue together walleye to cook in blocks. They're aiming to start serving their Midwest-focused three-course, six-course and grand tasting menus by mid-September but don't intend to open doors until their initial dishes are perfected.

Newly hired wine buyer Dan Parseliti, who came from PJ Wine in New York, New York, sits on standby with uncorked potential pairings as the chefs prepare tasting plates to evaluate side-by-side with the wine. Parseliti's fiancee, Lauren Blake (who curates wine at Robust Wine Bar & Cafe) happily keeps him company and provides assistance throughout the process.

click to enlarge Little Country Gentleman staff work on perfecting plates and choosing wine pairings before its opening in mid-September. - Mabel Suen
Mabel Suen
Little Country Gentleman staff work on perfecting plates and choosing wine pairings before its opening in mid-September.

As RFT cafe reviewer Ian Froeb reported back in July, one of the primary motivations for moving forward from Medianoche is to allow for more creative freedom. Randolph says he's looking forward to taking the best of Medianoche and applying it on a daily basis. Tip of the Tongue stopped in to get a glimpse into what's to come.

The kitchen previewed three plates that Randolph refers to as "refined comfort food": seared walleye with vanilla parsnip puree, lemon gel, orange, pea tendrils; pork mix grill, Barbecue shoulder with belly "chop" house-made sausage, tenderloin, carrot puree, pickled carrot and grilled romaine; and heirloom tomato and compressed watermelon salad with goat milk yogurt, citrus, pine nut powder and cinnamon basil. Each dish looks almost too pretty to eat.

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