It was about as far as you could get from the overcrowded excess of the annual Dark Lord Day at Three Floyds in Munster, Indiana: a candlelit dinner for ten at Publican Quality Meats last night. Okay, there was this resemblance: heavy metal blasting on the sound system from Three Floyds’ Lincoln Anderson’s phone. But this was a rare chance not only to have Dark Lord at all, but to sample a five-year vertical of it, plus an assortment of other Three Floyds rarities. The beers were donated by collectors for the dinner as a fundraiser for Inspiration Cafe, and to live up to the libations on hand, chefs from all of Paul Kahan’s restaurants rose (or sank) to the challenge with dishes that gave them the chance to indulge in Mephistophelean excess far beyond the usual fairly-down-to-earth food they usually make, from wagyu beef to black truffle to gold leaf. Yet if they seemed to relish the chance to go wild— at one point, for reasons we no longer recall, Blackbird pastry chef Dana Cree gold-leafed Publican Quality Meats chef Cosmo Goss’ tongue— the food they produced wasn’t stupidly excessive, which is easy, but ingeniously, disciplinedly excessive— truly a feast fit for a Dark Lord. We were in the subterranean depths of Publican Quality Meats for it all; check out our beneath-the-scenes slideshow.
The precious stash of Dark Lord and Three Floyds beers being brought over from The Publican.
Of course a cherry sauce for steak is going to have Publican Quality Meats’ housecured guanciale in it.
Justin Large (Big Star) cooks the fat off his guanciale. Then he pours it all into the sauce anyway.
Three Floyds sales manager Lincoln Anderson hanging out as PQM staff set up.
Two bottles of the 2011 vintage of Dark Lord (you can tell by the yellow wax seal).
The table is set. Let the ceremonies begin.
Foie gras appetizers with blackberry and truffle. Publican Quality Meats chefs Cosmo Goss and Erling Wu-Bower, who normally work with big hunks of meat, were responsible for the dainty appetizers. “I f—–g hate appetizers.” —Erling Wu-Bower
Goss and Wu-Bower plating appetizers at right.
Fried pork brains. They sent up six initially to see if anybody would eat them. The server was back with an empty board within a minute.
Brian Huston (The Publican), Paul Kahan, and Jesse Katzman and Koren Grieveson (Avec) wait on Huston’s baked oysters, which have an unusual coating.
Huston fried crispy chicken skin, then crumbled it and used it as a batter for the oysters, topped with a corn relish.
At tableside, Huston explains that he visited a Tabasco plant and was given some of the lees from the Tabasco process, which he added to Burton’s maple syrup. Then he poured the jacked-up syrup on the chicken-fried baked oysters.
Wu-Bower, David Posey (Blackbird) and Goss plate Posey’s dish, shrimp, golden beets, chanterelles, nutmeg and purslane.
Blood pasta, by Goss and Chris Kuziemko of PQM. It uses little egg, since the blood has its own, um, coagulating properties that produce the same effect. It was served with mussels, sea beans and favas, and topped with pickled ricotta.
Three vintages of Dark Lord down— 2012, 2011 and 2010.
Grieveson and Katzman from Avec had the next course, poussin en vessie, stuffed with truffles and vegetables, cooked inside skins.
Quickly browned in an oven, the halved young chickens sit atop summer vegetables, surrounded by consomme…
…and topped with shaved truffles.
The final savory course: Large’s sous-vided Wagyu beef with morels, a polenta nugget, his cherry-guanciale sauce and a drizzle of parsley oil.
Perhaps the dish most in keeping with the Dark Lord theme was new Blackbird pastry chef Dana Cree’s downright goth dessert, a smoked blackberry and burnt artichoke sort of cobbler topped with gold leaf…
…all of it concealed under sheets of a burnt-cinnamon/oatmeal mix sort of like big bat’s wings. Also rocking: Cree’s leopard skin chef pants. “Three months from now, these will be eighty bucks at Urban Outfitters,” she said.
Five years’ worth of Dark Lord. All hail darkness!