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Dinner at Gunshow

Chef Kevin Gillespie shows off some of his creations (credit: Becky Stein)

Chef Kevin Gillespie shows off some of his creations (credit: Becky Stein)

This week I visited Gunshow — the unusual new restaurant from chef Kevin Gillespie, where the chefs hand deliver their dishes like dim sum offerings.

You may recall I wrote about the ways that Gillespie and design firm ai3 managed to pull off a radical design on a tight budget.

Subscribers can read my account of my first visit to the restaurant here.

Everyone who’s planning to visit Gunshow might consider these 11 observations I had about the experience:

  1. There’s no bar, though you can sit and wait for your party in a cordoned-off area that makes you feel a bit like you’re waiting for the 8:20 train to Hoboken. Someone will offer you a glass of wine or a bottle of beer.
  2. The beverage program is pretty basic. Then again, you can get a perfectly nice, food-friendly drink for a decent price. If you’re a wine geek and want something special with this food, you might consider bringing a bottle from home. Gunshow doesn’t charge any corkage.
  3. Here comes the cart: After you sit down, a server will roll over a Queen Mary cart with an assortment of very small plates — perhaps fried boudin balls or some cubes of house pâté. These are the “assorted savory, spicy, crispy and crunchy” snacks meant to appease your appetite and bridge your expectations as you sync to the timing of the kitchen. Eating here is a bit like hopping onto a moving treadmill. It energizes you once you get the pace.
  4. Go with the flow: The dishes you were eyeing on the menu may not be the first to arrive, but they eventually will show up. Perhaps a few items, such as Gillespie’s smoked-to-order heritage pork with German potato salad, show up less frequently than his creamed butterbeans with chicken skin cracklin’ cornbread, but you want both.
  5. You also must take a Zen approach and let the meal happen as serendipity dictates. We were most interested in the trout a la plancha with shaved asparagus and brown butter, but when it arrived at the end of the meal after we had eaten the pork as well as braised short rib with lemon spaetzle and stroganoff-style mushrooms, we had to pass. Next time.  But if you really want something, ask. The server will alert the kitchen to make your table the first stop when that dish comes out of the kitchen.
  6. There are three chefs, not one: Gillespie is ably abetted by Joseph Ward and Andreas Müller, both of whom you will meet as they offer their creations tableside.
  7. Ward is the modernist of the bunch, so look for his colorful plates. We went nuts for his spring vegetable salad served with a creamy ramp dressing (“rampch”) and yellow lemon-fennel-olive oil powder meant to evoke tree pollen.
  8. Müller claims responsibility for Gunshow’s biggest talker — a version of the Swedish street food called tunnbrodsrulle. It’s a flatbread filled with mashed potato, a creamy shrimp-dill sauce and a hotdog. It seems like the kind of thing you might want to eat standing in the street after a few too many beers, with perhaps a wad of napkins and a plastic fork, leaning forward to keep it from dripping on your coat. There’s also a fried chicken sandwich making the rounds. Gillespie insists he wants the restaurant to appeal to folks who just want a sandwich or a snack to go with a beer.
  9. The menu changes all the time, so the dishes I describe here may be gone when you visit. That said, you really want the “pork skin risotto” — actually a rich bowl of farro with the inimitable flavor of smoked, rendered and powdered porcine epidermis.
  10. This restaurant isn’t cheap: The small plates range from $10 to $18, and you’ll want about three per person. We had three per, a couple of the snacks, and a couple of small desserts, and we all left exclaiming how nice it was not to be stuffed. I may have raided some leftovers in the fridge later that evening.
  11. “Home” is the key word. When I’ve interviewed Gillespie, he has told me umpteen times, “I want you to feel like you’re in my home.” This isn’t just an expression of bland hospitality. Like in a home, the food arrives as it arrives. Sometimes you stand around in the kitchen for too long eating nuts and trying not to get drunk as the host cooks. Sometimes it piles up and you merrily overeat. Some dishes may not be your thing, but it shows up at the table and you decide to dig in. I’m glad I’ve tried tunnbrodsrulle, but I don’t imagine anything short of a Stockholm bender will encourage me to try another.

– by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

11 comments Add your comment

Sheriff John Brown

May 31st, 2013
8:58 am

sounds like a lot of work for the customer…believe i will pass

stephieZ

May 31st, 2013
9:35 am

Thanks for the observations! I’m headed there next week so it’s good to know that I can bring some wine from home.

Art

May 31st, 2013
10:03 am

Thanks for the notes… I see they’ve “fleshed out” their menu a little since they opened. The early menu had “Red Wine #1″, “Red Wine #2″, etc.

Grasshopper

May 31st, 2013
10:45 am

It will be interesting to see how this concept plays out with the public. It sort of sounds like taking the easy road when the kitchen can prepare what they feel like preparing instead of what diners specifically ask for.

If you hear the fish is particularly good and don’t get to try it because you are not in the right place at the right time, does that encourage or discourage you from coming back? Can a kitchen built on the chefs whims rather than the diners wants work in the long run?

1164mgc

May 31st, 2013
11:12 am

Too complicated!

GaPeachy

May 31st, 2013
3:31 pm

I am dying to try this place but not sure if its for me. I usually know exactly what i want off a menu and if I can’t get it, that may lead to a bit of frustration. I’ll def try at least once though.

Art

May 31st, 2013
4:51 pm

@Grasshopper, very good points. Dim sum works because it’s cheap and plentiful. Strolling through the dining room with $$ entrees does make you wonder. Gillespie says he wants to have it feel like you’re eating at his house; the only difference is that he probably doesn’t charge people when they actually eat at his house.

The Real Foodie

June 1st, 2013
2:55 pm

Nice notes. Will not be paying for a review. There are still plenty places for that.

Big Ribb

June 5th, 2013
1:39 pm

I like the concept of dim sum because I can stuff my big fat amurican face full of fried food and carbs for a low price. like being on a cruise without having to leave alabama.
I will definitely try gunshow because of their relaxed atmosphere and no corkage fee.
I recently took some meat that I recovered from the dumpster behind Bi-Lo to waffle house and asked them to cook it for me but they wanted to charge me – with trespassing of all things.
Anyway, I’ll probably bring a dead cat to gunshow since they only have beer and wine.

Baltisraul.....

June 6th, 2013
8:41 am

Speding appox $70.00 pr person and going home hungry puts this a little lower on the ‘must try’ list.