This is kind of a random review, but this meal was so good, I had to share it with you. And you will know, next year, if Indy is lucky enough to have Brad Gates preparing a delivered Valentine’s Day meal again, you should totally get it. (Sometimes he does the same concept for other holidays as well). So the way it worked was he had prepared a set menu and you could just order it to be delivered for $40 a person. They dropped it off in little foil carry out containers with heating instructions –they were really easy to follow and not screw up. Oh, and they brought a nice red rose too. (Keep in mind the pictures are the way I plated the food, possibly not the way he might have had in mind, and certainly not as pretty as any chef would have done I am sure.)
The first course was a smoked trout and crab cake with a frissée-onion salad and mustard remoulade. The very good sized cake was tasty—it had a lot of the smoked trout flavor to it, reminding me a little of brandade—or those little potted dishes of salt cod. It had a fair amount of crab in it too, which mellowed the fish flavor just the right amount. The salad with the insanely thinly sliced red onions was a nice accompaniment to the rich, almost creamy cake, giving a nice texture variety—the only thing I would have changed would be to add a bit more vinaigrette to the greens to add a punch of that zinginess I like. I used the remoulade to dip the cake into—it had a nice bit of heat from the mustard that was a nice balance to the slight smoky taste of the fish. These cakes were mainly meat, not a lot of filler, but enough that they were moist and not dry (sometimes I find those really super crabby cakes to end up dried out because they don’t put enough liquid ingredients to bind the meat properly).
The next course was one of my favorites—and one of the dishes Chef Gates delivered to me on my birthday as well. Mushroom gnocchi with Parmigiano cream sauce, little slivers of prosciutto and some fresh spinach leaves mixed in. I have said it before, but I think Chef Gates does some of the best Italian food in Indy. These little tender, earthy pillows were so good-just the right amount of mushroom flavor coming through. And the cream sauce, while rich, was not so heavy that you felt like you were clogging your arteries with each bite. The sauce was just a little thin, and mostly tasted of the salty Parmigiano. He provided just enough extra cheese to sprinkle on top as well.
The main course was Italian-style steamed Gunthrop Farms pork shoulder. Now, I am somewhat picky about pork, because it seems like it so often dry and flavorless. This just may have been some of the best pork I have ever had. It was sliced in a bit of the broth—you just heated it up along with some veggies on the side (fingerlings and carrots) and finished with a wonderfully fresh, salsa verde—lots of green flavor and a bit of crunchy texture from chopped parsley and red onions. I loved that salsa verde and put quite a bit on my portion. He even provided a little container of coarse sea salt to sprinkle over the top, which we did, and which totally finished the dish. But the pork was just so moist; it was like the world’s best pulled pork with Italian seasonings. This dish was so amazing. Hubby ate the rest for lunch a couple of days later and enjoyed it just as much, if not more.
For dessert, there were two little flourless chocolate cakes and a little side of vanilla crème brulee and little vanilla syrup to drizzle. It was a nice, reasonably small dessert to finish off a great Valentine’s dinner. The chocolate was rich and the flavor of the crème brulee was a nice addition, although, it was hard to get the super crunch top on it the way you do at restaurants (although it did come already caramelized on top). The vanilla syrup was light –not super syrupy like you might imagine. It added a delicate flavor that was better just with the crème brulee because it got lost a little if you ate it with the rich chocolate. From top to bottom, this was one of the best meals I have had in awhile, and even though I had to do the dishes, it was totally worth it. I hope Chef Gates continues the Valentine’s Day tradition of delivering meals, and next year, if you are looking for something different, give it a go (and keep your eyes out, like I said, sometimes he does similar carry out meals for other holidays).
Brad Gates Catering & Events