Cookshop dinner report
Here's my (somewhat) brief Cookshop dinner report. Overall the meal was very good, though shy of being great for two reasons that I'll mention shortly.
I should mention that the place was an absolute zoo when I got there at 9pm on Friday night. This is not necessarily a flaw, but a testament to its popularity. The bar area was packed, and it was a bit disorienting as I waited for my dinner companion. But once he arrived, we were seated promptly. If you're looking for a quiet, sedate dinner environment on a weekend night, this is not it.
Once seated, we received a plate of bread and olive oil-slicked breadsticks with some sort of delicious spread. I didn't get the opportunity to ask what it was--similar to tahini.
The wine selection is a bit pricey--the least expensive red is $40, and they go up from there. But we ordered one of those $40 reds, and it was a great selection. So no complaints there.
We started the meal with an order of spiced hominy grits, as recommended by people on this forum. They were essentially like popcorn for grownups, and I'd eat a bucket of them at the movies any day.
Then, my friend had an appetizer of Montauk octopus, while I had the Gulf shrimp. The octopus was quite good, but the shrimp had an unfortunate (and very strong) iodine flavor. I was quite surprised, and while I don't know how much control the kitchen has over that sort of thing, it was disappointing. That was flaw #1.
For entrees, my friend had the pork chop and sausage combo, which I tasted and thought was quite good. The sausage had an odd sweetness to it, which my friend described as similar to breakfast cereal like Apple Jacks. That didn't make it bad, just peculiar.
I had the Catskill duck breast with flageolet beans, which I ordered medium rare (as the Chef recommends). The dish would have been great, but unfortunately the duck was practically raw in the middle. And because of the lighting, I didn't realize this until I had eaten the first few outer pieces--which were great. So I didn't send it back, though I probably should have. Flaw #2.
We didn't have dessert, so I can't comment. All in all I would certainly go back to give it another shot. But sadly I wasn't quite as bowled over as I had hoped to be on my first visit, for the reasons above.
And there you have it.
You're right about the kitchen not having any control over the iodine flavor of the gulf shrimp. Said flavor is not an indicator or handling, quality, or age, but is rather the result of the shrimp's diet. When the shrimp (esp brown shrimp) feed on certain algae, the iodine flavor results. Anyway, kudos to the restaurant for serving gulf shrimp rather than imported, pond raised!