I rarely make it over to the Gulch anymore. Sometimes I feel like I'm too old, too un-hip and that I just live too far away. Because of this I miss out on some really great dining opportunities. SHAME ON LAUREN. Last night I was invited to a special dinner at Moto Cucina and Enoteca, the newest venture from the folks over at M. Street (I've previously reviewed brunch at one of their other establishments, Tavern). Fancy pants dinner at a new Italian place? Sign me up!
First off I have to say that their execute chef Andy Hayes is top notch. I feel I should mention this first because all the food we ate stemmed from his creative and talented brain. Andy was a pleasure to talk to, as well as funny and informative. It also didn't hurt that he trained at one of my all time favorite restaurants, Gramercy Tavern in New York. M. Street snapped up a good one!
The inside of Moto is simply beautiful. Everything has clean lines, warm tones and soft lighting. They paid very close attention to every detail, including the inlaid patterns on the bar. They even have a rock bed open fireplace and a glass wine cellar. I sat at a booth and the booth seats were very comfortable, possibly the most comfortable booth I've ever sat in.
To start off, the kitchen sent out four appetizers for all of us to sample. The first one out was duck fat olives. These were served warm with whole garlic cloves and orange zest. They were delicious, but anything covered in duck fat is delicious. I loved the temperature of the olives- just barely warm and very nice on the tongue.
Next up was the pork cheek terrine with crispy pig ears. When we asked how this was made Chef Andy told us it was made with the whole head of the pig, and not just any pig, but a pig from Porter Road Butcher. It's good to know Moto gets their pigs whole from my favorite local butcher shop. This gets at least +10 awesome points. The terrine was creamy and spread easily on the crustini. I only wish they had more pig ears added for crunch; pig ears are always such a treat.
Next up was the deep fried Apalachicola oysters with peperonata and preserved fennel. The topping reminded me of a lightly spiced chow-chow and added a really nice vinegar flavor to the fried oyster. Even someone at my table who said they don't enjoy oysters loved these!
The last appetizer was the raw winter salad featuring shaved beets. I'm always skeptical of raw salads considering I've had a fair few that were disappointing, but this dish was simply divine. The vegetables were sliced so thin that they almost melted in your mouth. Add to that simple seasoning and blue cheese and you have yourself a winning raw salad.