Many have described me as a Plan B Burger Bar addict! As a professional chef, most people assume I am a food snob, only interested in 5 Star dining venues. This is not the case. When I eat out, I am looking for quality and ambiance. Ambiance can mean elegance but it can also mean, as in this case, just plain fun. While Plan B’s special Prohibition event was all about the past, it is important to note that the Plan B Burger Bar's everyday menu shines with top notch natural beef burgers (veggie, portabella, salmon, and chicken versions are available too), salads, fun starters, a great assortment of fries, and weekly specials.
If you have never been to Plan B Burger Bar before, last week’s Pre Prohibition Dinner would not have been an accurate introduction. This dinner was a forage into a new land. It was more of a Five Star dining experience, with expertly plated food and service, and even more unique top-notch drinks. On a regular visit to Plan B, it is not only their food and drink that beckons me back, but also the bubbly and professional servers and the energy-charged environment. These qualities were also evident at this special event.
I happened to have been at the restaurant, drinking a Mint Julep to celebrate the Kentucky Derby, when they announced their themed Pre Prohibition dinner: 6 courses paired with 6 drinks for $50, all imagined with the 1920’s in mind. I jumped at the opportunity and bought 4 tickets, hoping Michelle Klem, (Cakesuite in Westport), and her husband would join me. They happily agreed.
When we arrived that night, we couldn’t believe what a wonderful job the restaurant had done transforming the back room into a 1920’s Speak Easy. There were silent movies projected on a large wall behind an old fashioned bar where Matthew Rask, the mixologist, was doing his magic. The servers looked the part in their 1920’s garb and really shone as they carried the night. The themed décor and DJ’d mood music only added to the exciting experience had by all. Matthew Rask, who spoke throughout the evening, explained that the dinner was the offspring of a conversation with best friend Chef John Brennan, motivated by the desire to return to a time when people dressed up for a dinner out and simply enjoyed lots of great drink and food.
As I mentioned, the menu for this dinner was totally different from the everyday Plan B menu except for the fact that both the Chef and Mixologist like to be creative and invent new tastes from old classics on a daily basis. I like that. The foods offered were both savory and sweet in each bite, and Chef Brennan seemed to create a lot of his flavors using smoke as his theme. There were smoked grapes on his opening cheese plate, smoked brisket in the fourth course, and even smoked vanilla mousse in his dessert. The courses were all great complements to what seemed like the stars of the evening, the spectacularly one of a kind drinks!
Pre set at our seats was the first course, a cheese plate highlighted with such unique foods as dried boar meat and jalapeno jam. The Compari Clove Gin Fizz was foamy on top and cooly sweet and refreshing below. For the second course, a light salad of arugula, pink grapefruit segments, black currants, cucumber straws, and shredded Mancheco was served with a sweet Champagne Cocktail, uniquely prepared with Blackberry Brandy and Burlesque Bitters. The drink was a little too sweet for my tastes, but to be fair, I am not a fan of sweet drinks. When our expert server, Michelle, noticed my untouched drink, she quickly made sure my next drink would be made without the simple syrup.
For the third course, the lately popular Pork Belly was served along with a rye cocktail. I especially liked the vegetables served with the meat. They were very tasty and well chosen. The drink was delicious, and my less sweet version was amazingly good! For the fourth course, Matthew Rask torched cherries that had been previously smoked, right in front of us for his take on a classic Old Fashioned. Who knew this was going to include such an entertaining dinner show! The drink was wonderfully layered with the smoky taste of the cherries and fresh vanilla perfectly melding with the Bourbon. It complemented the smoky brisket, elegantly plated with a bacon corn bread and flavorful brussel sprouts.
The fifth course was my favorite: Lamb lollipops glazed with a curry/lime/cardamom sauce topped with a dollop of herbed goat cheese. The lamb was perfectly prepared at medium rare. This was paired with a Sri Lankan Daiquiri, not your ordinary daiquiri- this one included the addition of cardamom which piggy backed on the flavor of the lamb. The final course, dessert, included even more of a show, with Matthew Rask and Chef John Brennan donning asbestos-lined gloves and goggles to create the final fiery drink, a take on the Blue Blazer cocktail, which involves rolling flaming liquor from one mug to another: aptly named Smoke Before Fire. You can see them prepping the “drink on fire” from that evening on You Tube if you click this link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8b-_q-UMAM.
To sum it all up, 50 diners experienced a unique and exciting evening. New friends were made and the atmosphere was charged with creative food and drink. The drinks were expertly mixed and poured by a team of bartenders who also put on a great show for their guests. Each drink had many different layers, and Matthew Rask was there to explain each one. These drinks were not pre mixed and poured for us from pitchers. They were made right in front of us and really delicious. The food was elegantly plated and served with style from a set of servers who were both professional and personable.
Plan B Burger Bar in Milford is worth a visit but know they do not take reservations. Check out their website for more info on their menu and other locations. There is a new location opening in Stamford this summer. Watch out Fairfield County burger venues. Plan B is entering the Fairfield County burger wars and will give you some competition.