I used to dread winter when I lived up in Philadelphia (well, except my birthday, obviously). I hated the bitter cold so much that I barely wanted to shower, because stepping out of the delicious heat into a freezing house (somehow my parents decided that 65 degrees is an acceptable room temperature) was an unbearable feeling. Probably as unbearable as I smelled from lack of showers. I hated waking up extra early to scrape the ice off of my car in the frozen tundra. But now, living in Florida, winter is a welcome escape from the humidity and sweltering heat, and I love it. And now, Jardin has given me a reason to crave winter even more.
Jardin is run by dynamic duo Jordan Lerman, who serves as the Executive Chef, and Stephanie Cohen, Executive Pastry Chef. Um, talk about #couplegoals. They have some seriously lucky future children. I was invited in not only to taste their new winter menu, but to sit at the Chef’s Counter, where we got to watch all our food being prepared up close and personal! By the way, dress is from Target and the boots are from Not Rated. The necklace is a random flea market find.
Jardin prides itself on its craft cocktails just as much as its unique menu, so of course I started my meal out with one. There were so many interesting mixes to choose from, but I went with The Bee’s Sting, a collaboration of Jimador Tequila, Mulled Cider, Cranberry Pomegranate, Habanero and Honey. A perfect kick of heat to warm up any winter weather!
Instead of bread, Jardin starts off each meal with a complimentary bowl of housemade Madelines, a different flavor each night. The ones you see above are Everything Bagel Madelines, served with the most delicious butter you have ever tasted. Seriously, the Madelines were incredible and now actual everything bagels will never be able to compare, but that butter?? I’ve never had a desire to eat butter straight until I met this butter. And I would do it without any of the shame.
One of the things I was dying to try was the cauliflower. Yes, I know it sounds absolutely nuts for a french fry blogger to crave cauliflower, but this is not just ANY cauliflower. It’s served with Maple Yogurt, Vadouvan Cashews, and Grapes. I looked up “Vadouvan” because to me it sounds like something you would say when someone sneezes, but actually it is is a ready-to-use blend of spices that is a French derivative of a masala known as vadavam, vadagam, or vadakam. It is an Indian curry blend with added aromatics such as shallots and garlic. That alone should tell you that the flavor of this dish was simply out-of-this-world. The spicy with the sweet grapes and milky maple yogurt is a blast of flavor that makes me want to eat cauliflower over and over and over again.
If I thought the Everything Bagel Madelines were giving me upscale deli vibes, I only had to wait for our next course to top that: Smoked Salmon Dip topped with Everything Bagel Crumble, Radish, Pickled Shallots and Cucumber, served with grilled bread. This is some serious winter comfort in a bowl right here, and blows traditional smoked salmon, well, out of the water (see what I did there?)
They say to eat colorful is the eat healthy, but I think to eat beautiful is to eat happy! The Swank Farms Winter Salad, which is made with Beet & Jerusalem Artichoke, Winter Vegetables, Pumpernickel, Grain and House Ricotta is one of those dishes so gorgeous, you almost don’t want to destroy it. But destroy it we did, because it was delicious. With each bite I could feel the freshness, it almost felt like I was cleansing each and every french fry ever eaten out of me.
Next up was the Heirloom Tomato & Burrata with Black Olives, Torn Bread, and Basil. There are pretty much only two foods that I will not eat: olives and root beer. Anything else is game. Yes, anything. So for olive lovers, go crazy, but for me, I picked around them and still enjoyed the creamy burrata on top of that delicious bread, with the basil and tomato giving it a very caprese feeling. Definitely got my cheese fix in.
Of course, I had another fix that I needed to get in, and that is the french fry fix. Without a doubt, I rate Jardin’s fries an A. You can tell by the picture that they are perfectly crisp on the outside, with some of them being overly crispy. Plus, how can you refuse fries that are presented to you right from the chef:
I’m a french fry princess, and I love to be treated like one!
The next dish is insanely eye-catching, both on paper and in person. Squash Cappellacci Pasta with Squash, Mascarpone, Bacon (we had ours on the side since Shaina is a pescatarian) Brussels Sprout, Sage, and Hazelnuts. Another dish that perfectly fits the winter season, and is so unique as only Jardin does. The flavor combination can only be described as EXCITING, and had me salivating like Pavlov’s dog… which um, I guess I am.
I recently found out that I actually LIKE Pork Belly, so now I have a need to get it wherever I go. The 24-Hour Pork Belly is a Braised Pork Belly that is topped with glaze and served with Beet Greens, Charred Carrot and Grits. It was so deliciously tender and wildly flavorful. There is definitely a noticeable difference from it being braised for 24 hours. Just like a woman, the longer you tend to her, the better she is to you. Take notes, both men and chefs.
Fries are obviously my favorite carb, but bread is my second favorite, and I think bao bun bread tastes like fluffy pillows of heaven. I’m never a huge duck fan, but when prepped asian style and stuffed between the sweet, pillowy goodness of a bao bun, I am all over it like teenagers at a Bieber concert.
You probably won’t believe me, but at this point, we are JUST getting to the main courses. But that’s the thing about winter, you don’t need to worry about your summer body for 6 months… unless you live in Florida… oh, wait…
Whatever, the only abs I need are abs-olutely delicious entrees, like Jardin’s seasonal fish, which was tilefish that night. Tilefish is so nice and light, and took well to the flavors paired with it. It’s served with Forbidden Rice & Bacon (ours was sans bacon that night), Parsnip, Brussel Sprouts, Citrus Vinaigrette and Crispy Leeks. I’m not a rice fan unless it’s fried or forbidden, so this dish was even more of a win for me!
I typically wouldn’t go for an all-veggie dish, but since the Squash Medley was screaming “Shaina,” we had to go for it. It’s made up of Winter Squash, Cauliflower, Pears, Grilled Onions, Goat Cheese, Candid Walnuts, Crispy Capers and Roasted Vegetable Jus. The dish pretty much had me at “Crispy Capers,” and everything else was enjoyable as well – I loved the contrast between savory and sweet.
It was then Chef Stephanie’s turn to step up to the plate and wow us with her famous desserts. The “MMM…Doughnuts”, which is a Soft Brioche Doughnut with Blackberry Jam, Maple and Brie Custard. The doughnuts have limited availability every night, and for good reason – I could personally eat a dozen! Make sure to not miss out on these, they make Krispy Kreme look like cafeteria food.
And Stephanie didn’t stop there. What came out next really blew my mind – “Can I Have S’More?” – s’mores done two ways. I am a self-admitted s’more whore and I nearly fell out of my seat with excitement. Made with Warm Chocolate & Eggnog, Graham, Chocolate and House Cinnamon ‘Mallow, this is definitely a dish that transported me to my parent’s house in Philly sitting in front of a fire. Anyone who doesn’t like this dish is certifiably crazy. I mean, I’m certifiably crazy and I like this dish, so yeah, basically EVERYONE should love it. Jardin’s winter menu warmed me up, and I can’t wait for them to bring the heat with their summer menu!
***I received complimentary noms in exchange for this post, however, you cannot bribe me with food, so all opinions are my own.