We’ve all heard mixed reviews about Chalk: spotty service, mediocre food. However, in the interest of my readers, I had to try it out myself. My mom wanted to see Hair at Falcon Theater, so since it was Mother’s Day, we decided to try out Chalk, as it’s fairly close to the theater.
We had what had to be the earliest reservations for dinner I’d had in ages– 5:30. They weren’t quite ready for us (and we were early), so we hung out in the bar drinking pomegranate fizzes, which are essentially an alcoholic Shirley Temple. They were good, but not terribly strong.
Our server was attentive and very knowledgeable. The chef had just changed menus to something a bit springier, and it featured a lot of citrus and ginger. Instead of the pork belly we’d seen everywhere in the colder months, he’d switched to pork cheeks. Monkfish, halibut cheeks, and filet were also featured on the menu.
We started out with the cheese and bread– an assortment of cheese served with crostini and cranberry walnut bread. I really thought the cheeses would be more adventurous; instead, they were a bit pedestrian: white cheddar, port salut, mozzarella and asiago. It was served with a citrus mustard syrup– bits of preserved orange and lemon rind in mustard, and a wine and berry reduction and some sugared ginger. Both were nice, and complimented the cheese well, but I would have liked to see more interesting cheese choices to match the interesting entrees.
As an entree, my mom got the scallops, which were paired with sunchoke and chorizo. She’d never had chorizo, and the waiter and I tried to describe it to her. I said it was “just spicy enough”– not a wasabi-style “clear your sinuses” hot, but spicy and complex. She wasn’t disappointed. She had never seen scallops this large– and they were pretty darn big. My mom ate every bite– I think she would have licked the plate had she had the chance.
I chose the pork cheeks, which were served with a citrus-ginger sauce on top of rolled oats. I’d never had oats served in a savory preparation, and though the texture was nice, I thought they were a bit bland and also a bit heavy for what was to be a spring menu. The citrus-ginger sauce, which had bits of preserved ginger, was a very nice, light compliment to the pork cheek. I’d never had pork cheek before, but knew that they were tender and relatively lean. I was not disappointed– it was very tender, slightly meaty, and just a little sweet. They haven’t replaced pork belly as my favorite part of the pig, but these are a nice spring alternative.
I had heard so many things about Summer Genetti’s pastry that we had to get dessert. My mom got a mocha mousse covered in ganache. The people at the next table commented that it was a piece of art– it was beautifully stacked with some homemade cookies and sugar swirls. According to the waiter, Chef Genetti makes everything from scratch– the ice cream, the marshmallows, the mousse– everything except for the sprinkles. I joked that she was slacking. I got the Flight of Cupcakes– there were five: red velvet with cream cheese frosting, lemon with lemon frosting and preserved lavender, chocolate with peanut butter frosting, pistachio with pistachio frosting and yellow cake with bright pink frosting. The cake was okay– maybe slightly on the dry side– but the frosting was to die for. I ate three of them, and brought two home for Terry, who wasn’t able to join us for dinner because he was busy acting.
Our meal was actually really good, though I walked in without terribly high expectations. I would go back, particularly because the menu will be changing every two weeks. I could do a less expensive meal quite easily: they have an extensive menu of sandwiches and sides, and I’d love to try their fries. And there are so many more desserts to try! Maybe I was there on a good night, or maybe the kinks have been worked out– but I’d definitely recommend Chalk.
(And, as a bonus: My mom!)