Whenever I have heard the phraseology, “I am going to place this on the back burner” I have always concluded that whatever was going on the back burner required less attention, that its ranking in the list of importance was low on the list. In life there are some things that are indeed worthy of going on the back burner, but I am not quite sure that short ribs are one of them, but “The Back Burner Restaurant” in Hockessin, Delaware sure does think so.
If you have been reading my blogs for awhile, you know that I have my own thought process for most things. Some of them make sense to only me and some I truly believe the world should adopt in an effort to make the world a better place. One of my thought processes is that whenever you go to a restaurant and you ask the waitstaff, “how is the short rib?” the first response should never be that it is super tender. Why is this important? It’s important, because when you go to a restaurant, tenderness should be a given, not a selling point. It should stand to reason that as a Chef your basic 101 training for meat such as short rib, that tenderness is essential. an absolute non-negotiable, a statement that should not be uttered, because it is as commonplace as having a fork and knife on the table. The proper response should be surrounded all around the taste, the flavor, and the wallop of seasoning that should inevitably explode in your mouth on every bite.
So by now I assume you must have guessed it. The first and only thing up for today is The Back Buner’s Short rib, that was merlot braised, accompanied with a side of gorgonzola smashed red potatoes, and roasted asparagus. So right off the bat, the short rib was fork tender, no knife required, the color was so chocolatey brown and dreamy that hesitation to take my first bite was not even a consideration. However, upon the first bite I tasted nothing, almost to the degree that I thought my tastebuds were betraying me, so being the respectable and gracious blogger that I am, I immediately assumed it is me and definitely not the food, so I take a second bite and again repetition of the banal short rib ensued. Needless to write my vivacity for this short rib began to wane. Using my lightning fast mind, the thought to dive into the mashed potatoes took hold of me, so I dove in, but again the ho hum lack of flavor continued. Where was the saltiness from the gorgonzola, where was the slight pungentness from the cow’s milk cheese, where was that earthiness? I don’t know where it was, but it certainly was not in those mashed potatoes. Whenever a restaurant opts to tell you that they are using red potatoes, it would seem that a bit of the peel of the red would be in the potato, if for no other reason than aesthetics.
Still not fully convinced that my gustatory cells were working to their optimum levels I go back to the short rib, and with the next bite disappointment engulfed me yet again, reiterating that The Back Burner restaurant had truly treated this short rib like Baby in Dirty Dancing; they left this short rib in the corner and ignored it. They forgot that tenderness should not be exchanged for flavor, that the two should dance together in harmony. They ran away from the prime opportunity to showcase flavors on another level, they left a space open for greatness to overtake the short rib, all because they ranked tenderness over everything. It was clear that this meat was left on the back burner, it was disregarded, it was treated like a third-rate food, as opposed to the star it could have been.
I will mention the asparagus, because it was on the plate, but to keep it frank it had no place here either. It was another missed moment, it could have been an asparagus where young children begged their mother for more, but instead it was another vegetable a child will continue to ignore until well into their 50’s and only then, because it’s green and it’s the responsible thing to do.
Back Burner Restaurant from reading this it may seem like this was a complete fail, but it wasn’t, the potential is there, I am sure there is a dynamic flavor profile in the Chef that is eager to come out, I believe that you have a freak flag that wants to show that short rib who is boss if you would just let it fly and stop putting everything on the back burner🍴