After having an amazing brunch at Market a few weeks prior, we were so excited about their Anti Valentines day menu that we showed up an hour early. Our interest had been piqued by the fact that the menu included duck heart and we assumed that like other restaurants we would be fighting for a seat on Valentines day. However, Market had a scheduled a Taste of Carolina event that was going as we arrived so we sat at the bar until it was time for dinner. This actually worked out to our advantage, as throughout their dinner we received leftover tastes of pork shoulder, cocktails and other dishes for free as we waited.
Once the Taste event was over, we and three other couples sat down at a larger communal table for the main event. The dinner began with a course of goat’s milk-custard ice cream with chunks of cookie dough, which was served with a half shot of cherry bourbon. It was a great flavor combination with the way the sweet cookie dough really brought out the whiskey and cherry flavors. I had the bright idea to simply dump the whiskey over the top of my ice cream which really helped to amplify the rich woody flavors of the whiskey while complimenting the creaminess of the ice cream perfectly.
The second course was an assortment of 6 different cheeses with a sweet liqour flavored treat in the center. Forgive me for not remembering all of the cheeses (they were all great), but there was one that I remeber most vividly because its odor dominated the smell of the other cheeses. It was a raw unpastuerized goat cheese that had a smell not unlike that of dirty gym socks. By far the funkiest tasting cheese I ever had, I felt like the cheese would be something that would be great in a dish but it’s overpowering mustiness was just too much alone. The real jewel of this course though was the lovely gellatin lemoncello cube that was in the center of the cheesy arrangment. It was soft and sticky like a Turkish delight with the tart lemony alcoholic character of lemoncello liqour. To me it was kind of like a much more sophisticated riff on a jello shot but much tastier.
The third course was oysters rockefeller, which were good and kind of felt like a bit of a thematic palatte cleanser after the limencello and cheese. It was good, but not a challenging dish. This was followed up by the pork belly, which was paired with a carrot souflee and a glass of Big Boss Bad Penny. The pork belly was braised perfectly with a blackened on the outside but so well cooked and juicy on the inside that the fat just melted in your mouth. The carrot souflee complimented the pork belly with a sweetness that made it almost taste almost exactly like sweet potato.
Finally, we made it to what had really drawn us to the Anti-Valentines day dinner: the duck’s heart, served as a pot du creme that included a little bit of pureed ducks heart. Pot du creme is kind of like a custard, and in this case it had a vanilla flavor. The heart did not overpower the dish, but almost added just a touch of iron flavor. The rich creaminess and the slight meaty (dare I say bloody?) flavor of the heart made it a fantastic end to an extremely well constructed dinner menu.
Julia and I love The Market and will always be looking for a new excuse to have meal there in future. Even when it’s not February 14th, you can expect a surprising and great-tasting meal.