Savor Southern Comforts with our Spring Menu
Posted on May 15, 2017 in Featured Blog Post, Food & Drink
If you dine regularly at the Dakota you already know that Executive Chef Derik Moran (pictured left, Executive Sous Chef Shawn Neal pictured right) makes the silkiest buerre blanc in town, is the master of aromatics, and would be aptly named the King of Creole. His entrees are a study in harmony, complexity, and depth, and are executed with such clarity that from chef’s mind to diner’s palette, nothing is lost in translation.
His kitchen, forged by his methodology and refined by his commitment to local ingredients and sustainable practices, already stands on its own. But while typical fine dining and specialty restaurants thrive within narrow culinary themes, Dakota is unique in that, as a music, there is no set culinary demographic. That is, its audience is potentially everyone. Music is both universal and an expression of subjective taste. At some point it will surely draw you in, but once you arrive, you still have preferences. Similarly, everyone has an appetite but we’d all write our own menu given the chance.
At Dakota, it is the show that determines the dining room and it is the cuisine that must adapt. And while jazz is certainly a staple, the Dakota stage has boasted award winning artists from all walks of music, from bluegrass to blues, southern Americana to Eastern European folk-rock. Taste inclinations can vary wildly from one night to the next. So how does one offer a menu that sacrifices nothing in quality, lives in the moment, and leaves no one behind? For Chef Moran it means wresting free from the constrictive bounds of a traditional menu, instead setting his own rules and stretching in the wide open spaces of big ideas. It’s time for a change, he decided.
Moran describes his philosophy and process with a passion for his art, and esteem for those who consume it. “As I was thinking about this concept change and how ambitious it is, I felt that creativity was a most important element, not only for my kitchen and how we can remain inspired, but also for the guest. This menu is more buildable, it’s very versatile, and it encourages the diner to be creative too.” Now, alongside an ensemble of thoughtfully crafted entrees that articulate Moran’s own culinary vision and ingenuity, there stands an impressive collection of a la carte proteins and an array of side dishes that can be combined in myriad of ways to suit any appetite, dietary need, or mood. All in all, with a list of steaks including veal, beef, and bison, a tomahawk pork chop, a daily fish,and a full lobster tail, customization just got really real. And with the menu’s assortment of grains, starches, and vegetables the side dish is not an afterthought. Brussels sprouts are seared to a sweet, smoky char and carrots roasted to a satisfying al dente. Red beans and rice are passionately cared for and served tender but firm. Local morel mushrooms grown as close as your back yard, and authentically stone-ground southern grits are sourced from foragers and farmers practicing sustainability. All are finished with personal touches of sorghum, benne, and local creams. Whether you are a cautious diner or a foodie with an independent streak, there is something exciting about exploring the sheer vastness of such a menu, discovering Chef Moran’s signature methods and flavors along the way. For in all of its comprehensive reach and attention to detail, it provides the individual with the instruments to improvise – all options are now on the table. “This is a living menu, with a lot of room for interpretation and invention. There’s something here for everyone,” offers the chef.
It’s true. Like music, the culture of food is interactive and defined by parameters that are constantly in motion. Accordingly, his approach is at once, adaptive and entirely appropriate – at Moran’s Dakota, the big wheels of change are turning, and the diner is compelled to pay attention to the art behind the kitchen door.
– Ginger Roby
Check out the menu below: