Tucked away on an unassuming and quiet street, Marigold Kitchen, 501 S. 45th St., a cozy New American BYOB restaurant, sets the relaxed and tranquil mood for diners before they set sail on one of the more interesting and delightfully fun multiple-course meals to be had in the city.
The concept is simple: Show up and sit down for a 14-course dinner ($90). The chefs will take any dietary restrictions into consideration, but otherwise you are in their capable hands and pleasantly in the dark about what is coming until it is brought to the table. Strap in, because you are in for quite the ride.
The menu takes some interesting stylistic twists and turns, sometimes drawing from Southern influences and other times Asian inspirations. One reoccurring theme on the night we went was popcorn, which worked very well at a number of turns.
The entire meal was finely crafted, visually engaging and whimsical throughout. There wasn’t any course that didn’t impress, but we’re going to preserve some of the mystery and only go into the courses that shined the brightest.
The pumpkin bisque started off the meal with a subtle savory pumpkin flavor and a warm and silky texture, punctuated by the crunch of toasted popcorn and fresh, finely chopped apple. The wild-mushroom dish, topped with puff pastry and a poached egg, was surprisingly decadent.
The veal sweetbreads were small in portion but huge in flavors. The sweetbreads were tender with a barbeque-like flavor profile and they rested atop some amazing popcorn-flavored grits that were blissfully buttery.
The pumpkin nigri delivered a convincing sushi experience despite having no fish anywhere in the dish.
The creamsicle, a dollop of potent blood-orange sorbet in a spoonful of vanilla milk, was an amazingly aggressive version of the flavors one would expect from the classic ice-cream-truck treat. Another inventive take on a classic was the clam chowder, which was a deconstructed dish of clams and potatoes drizzled in a lovely cream sauce.
The best dish of the meal was the venison, perfectly cooked with a savory chocolate bread pudding.
Marigold’s take on wine and cheese is presented like a parfait but has the caramelized sweetness of a crème brûlée.
A dining experience like this can be fun and exhilarating under the right circumstances and, given the talent in the kitchen at Marigold Kitchen, it’s a culinary adventure that everyone should experience.