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The Press is up on my favorites list. A spontaneous decision took Suzanne Phan and I over to check out the place. We were not disappointed.
We walked in where the old Dragonfly used to be and found that it was brighter, more upbeat in décor. The walls have a new coat of light paint and there seems to be more lighting. We saw the large communal table and decided to go for it. The communal table is tall and long, probably ten feet. The bar stools were nice with backs (I hate stools with no backrest).
We were handed simple sheet menus. The selection included tapas, appetizers, pasta, and entrée. Tapas are $4 each or three for $10. The pasta dishes had small and large price points. We made three selections and I was a bit surprised at how quickly they came out.
Our first was the crispy pork belly with cauliflower gratin. I took my first bite and Suzanne could instantly tell I was in foodie heaven. She laughed at my happy grin as I savored the flavor and the texture. Pork is my favorite meat and pork belly is a decadent cut. But pork belly has to be cooked correctly. I’ve had undercooked versions where it was like eating a giggly piece of pure fat. Yuck. Other times it’s over crisped so that it is almost rock hard. This pork belly was perfectly cooked. It was nice and crispy on the exterior yet tender and buttery on the inside. That, coupled with the creamy gratin, was a perfect mix of textures in each bite. And it didn’t taste bad either!
I tried the salmon rillette next. For those unfamiliar with the term, rillettes are shredded meats made into a spread. Think of Deviled Ham. This salmon had been poached in a dill mixture, shredded, then mixed with crème fraiche. It was served with some crisp flat bread. It was light and refreshing, but not anything spectacular.
Our last dish was the gnocchi with pesto cream sauce, roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes. I selected this dish because the Sactown Magazine review had said that the chef was known for making incredible, light gnocchi. Based on that review, we were disappointed. The gnocchi were large, hearty, but light? No. They seemed pretty heavy and doughy. But the overall dish still tasted good. The pesto tasted fresh from the garden and the roasted garlic and parmesan shavings added salty and buttery accent.
Speaking of the chef, that was the best part. David English has worked as a chef at Ella and also in Spain and France. Now he’s opened The Press as his first restaurant and is taking pride in it. How does one know? Because he’s not hidden back in the kitchen. English is very visible - walking through the restaurant, talking to patrons, helping to serve. Hey, even cleared our dishes like a busser. He stopped by and asked us how we liked our meal. It’s been a while since a chef has done that while I was eating a regular meal. Biba is one who often visits the tables. Patrick Mulvaney visits does during his Family Meals, not sure about regular dinner service. It’s such a simple thing and yet it makes all the difference for me wanting to go back again. Kudos.
When he stopped by we raved about the pork belly. He said it was the last night for that dish. He’s going to be doing pork cheeks for the next few weeks. I’m glad we got the pork belly before it goes and the idea of the cheeks just makes me want to go back that much sooner.
Definitely stop by and try The Press. You’ll become a subscriber yourself.