Chow Town

Following up with The Oliver and a rosé dinner at Jax Fish House

Eckert says these pork nuggets at The Oliver, stuffed with confit of pork and served with smoked mozzarella and a homemade barbecue sauce, will be tough not to order each time he visits the new restaurant.
Eckert says these pork nuggets at The Oliver, stuffed with confit of pork and served with smoked mozzarella and a homemade barbecue sauce, will be tough not to order each time he visits the new restaurant.

When I was a news anchor and reporter, one of the things that really annoyed me was a lack of follow-up. One night on the 10 o’clock news, we’d lead the show with a shooting or fire, announce that “details were sketchy,” then move on. More often that not, that story was never addressed again, even when the details became clearer.

Consider this article a two-pronged follow-up, updating two articles I recently wrote: one on the rebranding of the restaurant Republica to The Oliver, and the second on a rosé-themed wine dinner at Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar where six courses of cuisine were matched with six different rosés. My wife and I had the rosé menu at Jax on “The Longest Day to Drink Rosé,” and I’ve dined a couple of times at The Oliver, so I thought I’d weigh in with my thoughts on both.

I’ll start with The Oliver because I wrote that article first. I’ve had a dinner and a lunch at the new Bread and Butter Concept restaurant, which is described as an “American Tavern,” and I’ve tried about a half-dozen savory menu items along with a couple of desserts, which, by the way, are excellent.

Let’s start with the appetizers, or, as The Oliver calls them, Firsts. These were honestly two of the best items I had during my two meals. First up: meatballs comprised of bison and pork served with spinach in a mustard demi-glaze. The meatballs were good, but the mustard demi-glaze was a rock star. They should bottle it and sell it to go.

I also had the pork nuggets, which are deep-fried balls stuffed with confit of pork and served with smoked mozzarella, a jalapeno (which I didn’t touch) and a house-made barbecue sauce. Crunchy on the outside, creamy and rich in the middle, with melted cheese in the mix, it’s going to be tough not to order these every time I drop in. I also had the Shrimp Louie salad, grilled jumbo gulf shrimp served atop and iceberg boat with avocado and tomato in a signature Louie dressing. I’m not much of a salad guy — just ask my wife — but this one was terrific, a lovely combination of textures, flavors and colors.

Under the section headed Meats & Birds, I had the roasted natural half-chicken and my wife had the hanger steak. The chicken, with a chipotle glaze, roasted garlic sauce and wild mushrooms, was good, but the hanger steak, from Hatfield Ranch in Nodaway County, was outstanding. If there’s a moister, more flavorful, more tender hanger steak out there, I sure haven’t found it. All in all, I’d say The Oliver is off to a terrific start.

Just a stone’s throw from The Oliver is Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar. When I learned of their recent rosé dinner, I was thrilled. I love rosés and believe they are some of the most under-appreciated wines in the world. That was certainly proven true by Chef Theresia Oto’s six-course masterpiece.

The evening started with a Diamond Point Oyster with strawberry granita, cucumber gelee and basil matched to a Domaine St. Innocent Oregon rosé of pinot noir. The match was seamless and the St. Innocent rosé was as light as air. The meal ended with cherries and chocolate, which consisted of a flourless chocolate torte, ricotta doughnut, and white chocolate. The dessert was paired with the Hamacher rosé of pinot, also from Oregon. The rosé smelled and tasted of cherries, and despite the density of the chocolate torte, the Hamacher held its own.

In between, there were four other courses and four other rosés. My favorite course of the bunch — and this is a tough call — was the bay scallop crudo, which was served with a seaweed salad, yuzu, sesame caramel and some chili flakes. A third rosé made from pinot, the Red Car Rosé from the Sonoma Coast, accompanied this dish. Fuller bodied than the other two pinot noir rosés, the Red Car handled the dish with aplomb.

Most of these rosés were new discoveries for me. I can’t wait to try them again at Jax or right here at Casa Eckert with my own food and wine matches.

So, there you go, that’s my follow-up.

Dave Eckert is a partner with Flavor Trade, a Kansas City-based gourmet food incubator and co-packer. Before that, Eckert was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and AWE for 12 seasons.

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