Dear Food Diary:
Ramps aka wild leeks are still in season and I can’t get enough of them!
Last week, we couldn’t make it to Ramp Fest 2013, so we got a table at the North End Grill instead. Top Chef Master winner Floyd Cardoz has them on the menu 3 ways and we got them all. Grilled, on a pizza and as a gravy!
The chef tweeted me that it’ll be on the menu at least till end of this week, so hurry! If you love mom, take her to eat ramps!
Pass through the massive open kitchen, you’re invited into a grand dining room. Black and white. Modern sleek. Warm, attentive and friendly service. The overhead lights are almost identical to The Whitney’s Untitled.
Now to our ramp “tasting”…
Charcoal Grilled Ramps
You know we meant business when we got a side dish as our appetizer! This is ultimately my favorite way to eat ramps. Simply grilled. The onion/garlic aromas take prominence along with that kiss from the fire and a pinch of sea salt. I’d order a whole plate just for myself.
Grilled Ramp and Mushroom Pizza with Bacon and Homemade Ricotta
Everything is better with
bacon ramps! Well, bacon never hurts either. But ramps are quite versatile and play well with other ingredients. Their pizza dough had a cross of flatbread/naan texture. Light and airy, extra crispy on the bottom with soft fluffy ricotta on top. With its bright spring onion flavors, this sorta reminded me of an scallion pancake with a twist. The mushroom’s earthy natural umami was much needed. And bacon, need I say more?
Wood fire grilled Black Angus Prime Beef Tenderloin with Mashed Potatoes and Ramp Gravy
Out of the 3 dishes, I thought this was the most creative way to use ramp but also the one that diluted it the most. Maybe because that piece of meat meant business, that it somehow stole the show. Nice chard crust on the outside, ultra juicy and buttery inside. Smokey, wood fire grill is the best way to enhance a fine piece of beef like this. With sexy melt in your mouth potatoes underneath. The carnivore in me couldn’t stop singing (in my head of course) and just the sight of this photo makes me swoon.
Thrice Fried Spiced Fries
We just couldn’t resist and let me tell ya’ this is in the contender as one of the best darn fries in the city. I asked the waiters what the spices were and the response was “over 30”!? Definitely cumin, paprika, maybe a little bit of curry powder? Whatever the secret concoction might be, these were fantastic. Crunchy outside and flavorful. You know fries are top notch when ketchup seemed optional. Though a dip in mayo did enhance it.
Overall our dinner was great, from beginning to end. Nice but also casual. I love the spacious seating, great for large groups, but also intimate enough for a date. I read about their rooftop garden, hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit next time.
If these ramp dishes are any indication of their menu, I’d say North End Grill is a winner. I’m actually thinking about repeating this exact meal over the weekend, which sounds a bit crazy, but who cares! Ramps aren’t going to be around much longer.
104 North End Ave.