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Mike Sula reviews the Black Sheep, the West Town restaurant in the former May Street Market space, where chef James Toland has introduced an adventurous menu of complex dishes such as a creamy English pea soup with sour-cherry sauce and smoked eel glazed with a syrup made from the Austrian ice wine trochenberry and paired with globes of candied compressed melon and raisin puree. He’s abetted by beverage director and self-described sheriff of Boozetown Michael Simon, formerly of Graham Elliot, and pastry chef Sarah Jordan (ex Blackbird), who contribute offerings like a Chartreuse-based Hulk Smash with house-made mint soda and smoked beignets with pickled apple, malt semifreddo, and sour beer caramel. There’s also a late-night menu, and the option of prix fixe tasting menus ($95 for the "luxe," $65 for the five-course "econo").
Sula also profiles Thai celebrity chef M.L. Sirichalerm Svasti, aka Chef McDang, a member of the Thai royal family and graduate from the Culinary Institute of America who’s parlayed his expertise in his country’s cuisine into a career as a television host, newspaper columnist, cookbook author, and consultant. He’ll be in town next week instructing culinary students at Le Cordon Bleu on the fundamentals of Thai cookery, which can be employed in nontraditional dishes like green curry osso bucco (recipe here).
In Key Ingredient Nick Lacasse of the Drawing Room uses whelks, sea snails, in place of escargots, pairing them with foie gras, grilled bread, and an herbed salad flavored with elements like rhubarb compote, preserved lemon, and a white balsamic butter. Next up is Justin White of Small Bar, challenged by Lacasse with ostrich eggs.
In the listings are eight Thai restaurants notable for their authenticity, among them longtime favorites Spoon Thai, Sticky Rice, and TAC Quick but also lesser-known spots like the Elephant, on the far northwest side, and Me Dee Cafe, which stays open nightly till 1:30 AM, offering a congee menu, now translated, after 9 PM.