Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Machete


At last. Foodies all over Greensboro have been patiently waiting for Machete to expand their dinner parties to a brick and mortar. We have been so eager for them to open their doors in the space previously occupied by Crafted Street Food. We have salivated over their Instagram posts, read dish descriptions in awe ("Cornbread, Popcorn, Cream" anyone?) and I'm thrilled to say: the wait is over. And it's been worth the wait. Machete's doors will open to the public tonight.
Love that glow light
The creative culinary team at Machete is churning out "Iron Chef" or "Master Chef" quality dishes, so my dining companions and I decided that they deserved an Iron Chef review. Meaning, everything was excellent, a few dishes we never could have possibly imagined, and a few tweaks might make some dishes outstanding.

I took advantage of the "Roll the Dice" offering on the cocktail menu, which literally means that you roll 3 dice containing different spirits, flavors and techniques, and let your bartender do the rest. I rolled "spicy", "vodka" and "shaken" and was delighted with the Vodka Gimlet with Spicy Bitters I received. I also appreciated the wine tastings to help me determine which glass I wanted.


I was encouraged by other friends to try the Bread Service - Focaccia with Carbonara Butter. The perfectly fine Focaccia is clearly just a vessel for the Carbonara Butter, which is the star of the show. The butter is super airy and whipped - frankly I don't know how they managed to get it quite this light - and boasts major umami from smoky bacon (liquid smoke?), sweet corn and saltiness from the butter itself. I would have appreciated another piece of bread to go with all this butter!
Bread Service

Simply described as Yellowfin Tuna + Charcoal Crisp, this was my second favorite bite of the night. The charcoal crisp had great flavor - more savory than smoky, which was my preference. Incredibly flavorful and tender raw tuna was nestled into each crisp,  just waiting to be devoured. Each crisp was topped with small strands of seaweed. I would eat 100 of these.
Yellowfin Tuna, Charcoal Crisp

While perusing the menu, my eyes went immediately to the Short Rib with Coal-Roasted Cabbage and Kimchi Butter. The Short Rib was reminiscent of a really good pot roast - no bones, complete with gravy. While I was hoping for the promised tang of Kimchi, I got more of a smoky, charcoal flavor from the cabbage. I was disappointed at first, notably missing that acid, but then tried the bites together and was able to find a nice acid in the gravy, so when paired when the cabbage, it kind of made for a riff on kimchi. My party later spoke with the very gracious owner, who explained that their vision for this menu is to suggest flavors, and suggest that you alter your expectations. The dishes and their explanations are not necessarily promising you flavors, but suggesting them. It's a very cool concept, if your diners are willing to go along with it. My dining partner noted that he would have liked a base to soak up all the gravy - potatoes, riced cauliflower, maybe even polenta. I don't disagree.
Short Rib, Cabbage, Kimchi Butter

My party wanted to try several things on the menu, and we were especially pleased with the reasonable price points. Nothing seemed out of reach, and it was nice to be able to try a variety of dishes. We noticed that the dishes were staggering out of the kitchen a bit slowly, but we agreed that this time between each course really encourages conversation about the dish. The environment promotes a culinary adventure. Servers don't hover, so you can speak your mind with your dining companions. Discussing the meal is party of the meal. This place really isn't for non-foodies. We also found out that they've only been in this space for 6 weeks, and the staff has only been together for 1 week! Crazy impressive.

Roasted Cauliflower is hot right now, and pairing it with Aji Amarillo Peppers and Smoked Tomato sounded divine. There was a yummy roast on the cauliflower - the veggie itself was tender and the tops were crispy.  This was a very satisfying dish, and fabulous with the itty bitty aji amarillos, which provided a slight sweetness and spice. One of my dining partners remarked that they wanted an aioli from these peppers - again, I don't disagree!
Roasted Cauliflower, Aji Amarillos, Smoked Tomatoes

We ordered the Double-Fried Chicken with Grilled Lemon and were slightly surprised to get what reminded us of tempura-fried chicken nuggets on a skewer. But the chicken was incredibly moist and really shines with the grilled lemon aioli. Again, we didn't quite receive what we were expecting, but we were happy to just roll with it. My dining partner once again offered his thoughts and would have liked to see a spicy element to this dish, maybe in the aioli, with a charred lemon half to squirt on top. (If you couldn't already tell, this dining partner has several opinions, but many of them are thoughtful and good suggestions).
Double-Fried Chicken with Grilled Lemon

The desserts were my favorite part of the meal. They were absolutely sensational. Come for the dinner, but STAY for the dessert. The Fruity Pebbles ice cream is incredibly nostalgic. Being millennials, we all lost our minds when we bit into balls of cereal milk ice cream, rolled in slightly salted fruity pebbles. No spoon required, but it might make this last longer. All of a sudden, it was 1994 again and there were zero worries in the world.
Fruity Pebbles Ice Cream

The pièce de résistance was the "All Cheese, no Cake", which upon my cursory review of the menu, I thought meant a cheese course. That would have made perfect sense for a dessert course, but when my bartender acquaintance insisted we order this, I knew there had to be a trick up their sleeves. I would have been utterly devastated if I had missed it. Immediately, my entire party had a physiological response to this dish. We couldn't eat it fast enough but wanted desperately to discuss it - what in the world were we eating?! We decided it was a deconstructed cheesecake, with notes of buttered popcorn, sweetened condensed milk, salt, spice from the meringue and graham cracker cookies - this dish was literally everything. Perfectly balanced, and in my top 3 (maybe top 2?) best ever restaurant desserts. DO NOT MISS.
All Cheese, No Cake

We loved the opportunity to chat with the owner, who came around and spoke to every table. He asked for feedback and initial thoughts prior to their grand opening, and they really want to make a home in our community. I was eager to tell him how excited we all were to welcome them, and can't wait to see the awesome things they'll do.

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