Son of a Gun, Excellent In-House Ginger Beer and Soft Shell Crab Tempura
[Full-size pics, with captions, at: http://theoffalo.com/2012/07/son-of-a...]
After I struck out at Animal one night during the last week of legal foie gras, I decided to try its sister restaurant, Son of a Gun. I had heard good things about its ginger beer, brewed in-house, and its bite-sized lobster roll, and I had enjoyed my first visit to Animal, so my expectations were relatively high. I ordered the two above items, as well as a half dozen kumamoto oysters, and the soft shell crab tempura.
I had just had very good in-house ginger beer at Red Medicine a few weeks prior. Maybe it was the dark amber bottle with the old-fashioned hinged gasket cap, but I think the ginger beer at Son of a Gun was just a bit better. It was a little spicier and not quite as citrusy as RM's version, making it somewhat less refreshing but more robust. Truth be told, I would be happy with either ginger beer at any time (with Maine Root Ginger Brew as my retail backup).
The first dish that came out were the kumamoto oysters. It was a pretty standard presention, on the half-shell over crushed ice, but the horseradish was shredded into a light a fluffy pile on a clean oyster shell (a nice touch) and looked almost like bonito flakes. The kumamoto were not as deep-cupped as I was used to, and the oyster meat not as juicy and briny as I had hoped. but the horseradish and the cocktail and mignonette were quite nice.
Unfortunately, one of the oysters was on a diet because the meat was maybe a tenth the size of the others (wish I had taken a picture). I would have sent it back if I had noticed it right away, but I didn't want anyone to think I had taken a bite of it and left the rest in the shell to try to claim a scrawny oyster. Actually, I was surprised it was allowed to leave the kitchen like that. If I worked there, I would have shucked another to replace it.
Next was the lobster roll. The roll was probably three inches in length, with the lobster mix bursting out from it. I could smell the butter coming off the brioche. Unfortunately, despite its diminutive stature, the roll was kind of hard to eat. The reason the lobster was spilling over was because nearly none of it was in the roll, so when I picked it up most of the filling tumbled onto the plate. I couldn't really taste the lobster, with the buttery brioche and a strong lemony flavor overshadowing the filling. As a whole, it was delicious, but it could have been a surimi roll for all I know.
Last, but certainly not least, was the soft shell crab tempura, topped with a Thai-inspired cucumber and onion salad, drizzled with a ginger-soy dressing, and served with chunks of crispy pork. I was really glad to have gotten this dish, because up until now the best part of the meal had been the ginger beer. Not that the oysters and lobster roll were bad, but I've had better of each elsewhere. The soft shell crab, however, was simply excellent. It was fried just right, rich yet light. The the hot, crisp exterior was in perfect balance with the soft, unctuous interior.
The surprise was the crispy pork. I thought it would weigh the dish down a little, but it was also fried just right. The meaty layers of the pork had a nice crunch to them, while the fatty layers were light and almost flaky, while still retaining a moist richness. Alternating between the crab and the pork was a delicious exercise in contrast.
In the end, the soft shell crab saved the day, and the last gulp of ginger beer ended the meal on a a sweet, piquant note. I definitely wouldn't mind coming back again to try their take on linguine con le vongole, with uni aglio-olio of all things, and of course another (yo, ho, ho) brown bottle of ginger beer! :-)
Had a wonderful lunch at Son of a Gun today, and yes, the ginger beer was phenomenal! So refreshing with a great kick, perfect on such a hot day. My first bite of shrimp toast made me moan with pleasure. Chicken sandwich was crisp & juicy, with the pickles giving perfect contrast without overpowering. Octopus confit salad was delicious & the flavors well balanced. Fish & chips were ok, but nothing special. Finished off with lime frozen yogurt. It was tart & sweet, bursting with vibrant flavor. A perfect finish to my wonderful lunch.