Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Eat Like a Top Chef Judge: Nick Elmi's Laurel

As Seen on TV. Four of Elmi's Seven Course Tasting Menu

After 16 weeks spent writing, singing, and spoken word-ing about the guy (plus another 8 weeks until we could get a table), Mrs. Gastro and I finally got to taste Nicholas Elmi's food.

There are words, but I can't find them/use them without sounding like a starfucker. Besides, the critics have already set the tone (here, here, and here). Suffice to say that the meal exceeded expectations, especially the ricotta gnocchi, which rested dangerously atop that precarious foundation of overhype until I found myself licking the empty bowl and wishing for a real-life instant replay button to relive each bite. Our server told us that some people order a second bowl for dessert, but since we were there on a Friday, only the seven course tasting was available (some food for thought when making reservations).

What you need to know if you want to go:
1. According to Elmi himself (because he runs your food and says 'hi' and makes you feel all cool because he was on national TV and said "jawn" while on national TV and also won Top Chef), they're booked until August, but don't let that deter you...
2. Because Elmi also says, "Everyone in the dining room has been waiting for this table for weeks or months, or they're willing to take the 10:40 seating on Tuesday. This is constantly on my mind and I make sure it's also on the mind of my staff. What they're eating in September should be exactly what you're eating now."
3. You may be tempted to "jump-hug" Nick. Do your best to suppress this urge. The dining room is too small.
4. Laurel is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

I'm hoping we can get back again someday, but for now the gnocchi (and the rest of the meal) will live in my dreams. Buen provecho.

Laurel Restaurant
1617 East Passyunk
Phila, PA 19148
$200 including coffee and tip. We brought our own wine.

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