There was potential for last night's Chef's Collective Dinner at Gallerie to have been too much: An ambitious concept (8 big-deal local chefs! 1 sommelier! 7 proteins and a dessert, all with wine pairings!), a buzzy setting, more than one mention of foie gras on the menu. Instead, though, the 8-course meal and fundraiser for the Mid-Ohio FoodBank was a joy to eat, each course distinctive of its chef while still gliding together seamlessly as a meal.
It's something we sadly don't see happen enough here--for as often as our restaurant scene breeds menu mash-ups featuring laundry lists of local products, it's rare to see the chefs themselves come together and play. Which is a shame, because you could tell: Everyone in the kitchen last night was having fun. Gallerie chef Bill Glover deserves praise for dreaming this up. (And sommelier Chris Dillman deserves love, too, for walking us through each wine pairing, with tasting notes and histories for each.)
This served as Gallerie's inaugural wine dinner--much like the version at Glover's other restaurant, Sage, Gallerie will host themed wine dinners once a month (theirs will be on second Wednesdays--look for more details soon.) And if this is any indication of what to expect, go. Often.
Last night's full menu:
-Tuna tartare with seaweed salad, English cucumbers and chile aioli; Matt Litzinger, L'Antibes
-Roasted Alaskan halibut, orange, bell pepper-fennel nage; Chris Bee, Columbus Hospitality (pictured above)
-Warm Dungeness crab, citrus salsa, pomme dauphine, local cress; Tom Smith, Worthington Inn
-Pheasant (as sausage, a terrine and bacon), beets, cornbread, drizzled with a pheasant butter; Josh Dalton, Veritas
-Braised veal short rib, salsify puree, bread and butter pickle vegetable relish; David Tetzloff, G. Michael's
-Sous vide lamb loin, hearts of palm, foie gras mousseline, bone marrow foam, lamb sweetbreads, truffled pea puree, pickled hon shimegi mushrooms; Bill Glover, Gallerie
-Seared foie gras, smoked parsnip puree, poached pear, pear chip, balsamic reduction; Ryan Beck, Sage American Bistro
-Trio of chocolate desserts; Caryn MacDonald, Gallerie
After a cocktail hour featuring Watershed spirits served up by Curio's Travis Owens (most sipped on a knockout fizz made with Bourbon Barrel Gin), the dishes came in swift succession, in beautifully plated tasting portions eliciting the occasional gasp from my companions at one of the two 24-seat tables we shared. We finished dinner sated but not stuffed, with me still dreaming about Litzinger's velvety tuna tartare and the balance of richness and light in Tetzloff's veal. And after some pleasant post-dinner chatting with both fellow diners and the chefs who circulated the room, the entire evening was a perfect reminder of how lovely it can be when we all come together to eat.