It’s been six months since The Recess Room secured its liquor license and I’ve been wanting to revisit the restaurant for quite some time! The first thing we target is the cocktail menu! We begin with Cupid’s Arrow ($14) a strawberry-infused reposado, mixed with pear brandy, sous vide berries, beet root powder, honey, and lemon – a perfectly balanced drink served in a coupe. Gin-Singh’s Vesper ($14) is a vodka-based libation comprising Ketel One, Nolet’s gin, ginseng-infused lillet blanc (a French aperitif), and orange bitters.
Our dishes soon arrive starting with Doritos ($12) a creamy white miso corn porridge served with fried Jidori chicken skin. The corn porridge is unctuous on the palate, with the crispy chicken skin serving as the vehicle with which to scoop a dollop into your mouth. I would have liked the skin to be even crispier, but it suffices, and makes for perfect ‘bar food’ to pair with drinks.
Crispy Pig Ear Salad ($12) is one of the dishes which immediately catches my eye. The plate of Asian chrysanthemum, arugula, toasted red quinoa, Okinawa potato, hemp, and citrus is seasoned beautifully albeit a tad overdressed, but still works well with the crispy contrast of the pig’s ear.
I’m not a fan of sous-vide proteins, but Broadway alum, Chef Sam Green’s execution of Spanish Octopus ($18) — an 18-hour sous vide – is respectable indeed. I love the accoutrements of chorizo, Calabrese yogurt, celery, crisp potato, and candied kumquats, but compose a little of everything on your fork to experience this dish properly.
One of my favorite dishes of the evening is Soft Shell Prawn ($16). The miso glazed Kauai prawns are delicious – again, would have liked them to be a little crispier – and pairs immaculately with Chinese broccoli, purple radish, and the umami of bonito flakes. The only component I am not fond of is the wasabi peas.
It is time for another round of cocktails, and my friend and I decide upon Shiso Horny ($14) a perfect drink utilizing Plymouth Navy Strength gin, prosecco, lychee liqueur, demerara, lime, and shiso (perilla leaf). The distinctive fragrance of shiso is heady and so alluring you’ll find it difficult to take little sips of it. Of you’re a fan of Old Fashioned ($14) make sure you order the one here – it is fantastic!
Wagyu Tartare ($15) is a dish with layers and layers of flavors. Mix the chopped rib-eye with the accompanying components of Fresno chile, seaweed aioli, Calabrese oil, capers, and peanut thoroughly. Then, break open the 5-minute ponzu egg into little bits and mix that in. The runny yolk will add another dimension of creaminess to the dish, but most importantly, the acid from the ponzu balances out this rather rich dish.
While Bone Marrow Mac & Cheese ($14) may sound like a work of debauchery, but the mac and cheese is not the least bit cloying, and one of the best mac and cheeses — in my opinion — in both flavor and consistency. I liked the oxtail marmalade, but not mixed with the mac, as it imparts a sweetness which doesn’t sit well on my savory palate. I would have liked the oxtail marmalade and bone marrow eaten on toast points, and the mac and cheese as a separate dish, but that’s just me. My friend was absolutely fine with it.
If you’re looking for an entrée, the Half Chicken ($30) is sous vide for 6 hours and super juicy when you cut into it. Don’t be frightened of the ‘pink’ because the chicken is cooked through. The Korean gojujang (red pepper paste) glaze doesn’t overpower, allowing the chicken to shine. The smashed potato is tasty, but it is the butter poached cabbage that has me weak at the knees. SO GOOD!
I love Chef Sam Green’s menu! His ability to incorporate acid into all of his dishes with such precision appeals to my palate. I can’t wait to see what is up his sleeve when he is ready to change out his dishes. Bravo!
The Recess Room
18380 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708