Chef Michael Patlazhan makes food like you’ve probably never seen before. He cooks in a different culinary world where potato skins become sweet coffee-flavored ice cream, passion fruit becomes tangy, puffy mousse, and lettuce becomes… well, actually lettuce stays lettuce. Mostly.
A new molecular gastronomy-ish pop-up restaurant is open in AP Café after hours on Thursday through Saturday from 6:30 to 11PM. And you should go. (If for no other reason than to watch him create buttermilk dippin’ dots with liquid nitrogen.)
“I fell in love with this whole space,” Michael said of AP Café, with its high white walls and minimalistic decor, and why he chose it as the headquarters for his endeavor.“It’s kind of like a gallery.”
And he’s right. Its sparseness highlights what’s really important–the food. “I feel like you have to stimulate all the senses,” he said. “There’s the visual, then there’s the smell, the taste…”
And if AP Café is his gallery, then his dishes are his works of art. They arrive like sculptures, with bits of mushroom hay purposefully stacked and snips of sorrel elegantly placed. You can’t help but admire it for at least a second before destroying it with fork and knife.
The few occasions he works in the front of the house are what really make the experience. He operates with the concentration and precision of an open-heart surgeon. And he has just as many tools. It took him a few lengthy seconds to find the perfect spoon (out of a dozen or so that all looked the same to me) to scoop ice cream for dessert.
In the end, he just wants to leave a lasting impression, perhaps invoke a memory. “I still have people emailing me, two years [after I made them dinner] saying ‘We still remember how great it was. We want you back.’ And that’s what I’m going for.”
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
You can see the whole menu here, but our favorite dishes are:
The Woods ($19): Michael kind of has a thing for mushrooms and it shows. This dish is rare mushrooms six different ways: cake, roasted, pickled, chips, paper and hay. In other words, six ways you didn’t know mushrooms could be so damn delicious.
Black Garlic Rigatoni ($22): It’s a pasta made in-house with squid ink and blackened garlic topped with a sprinkling of horseradish and crunchy quinoa that tastes like popcorn. 10 out of 10 would (metaphorically) bang.
Wagyu Short Rib ($29): We didn’t try it, but we did overhear another patron exclaim, “I’ve never had anything like this. This is delicious. Isn’t this fucking delicious?” and if anything, that’s pretty persuasive.
Potato skin ice cream looks like this:
And Patlazhan caesar salad. Yum.
Michael Patlazhan‘s molecular gastronomy pop-up restaurant at AP Café, 420 Troutman St, Bushwick, every Thursday to Saturday 6:30 to 11PM.