Going into this wedding-planning adventure, we knew that food was pretty high up there on the priorities list. Perhaps even the most important. So it might surprise you to know that we had never tried our venue’s food before our tasting last night.
And yes, I was a smidgen apprehensive over that point.
But Honey Lake Plantation fit everything else we needed, so we took a leap of faith and signed the contract, hoping that our faith would be rewarded.
As of last night, I say we’re golden.
When we arrived we were shown to our table in the Gathering Hall’s main room with two places set and a printed menu in a clear stand so we could follow along. Of course, since we were so familiar with the menu already (having created it ourselves), we didn’t really need it, but it’s nice to know they do that for their tastings.
Our menu for the evening (all photos personal)
During the tasting we would also be having our second planning meeting, so our DoC was present to chat with between courses (which gave us the opportunity to update her on things like the napkin change and verify some details we’d previously left vague). As soon as Chef Bill came out, though, it was his show.
The wonderfully accommodating Chef Bill
Our first course was the soup, and I was so glad to see it was a small portion. I was a little nervous we’d be serving ridonculous portion sizes and definitely didn’t want that, and a soup bowl or plate would have just been too much of a good thing.
Just the perfect amount of rich, creamy soup to start off brunch!
The first try of the soup—a blend of butternut squash and sweet potatoes with coconut milk, cinnamon, sea salt, and pepper—was nice and velvety smooth, but missing something. We talked it over, I suggested adding cumin, and Chef Bill went and doctored up another two bowls for us with cumin, coriander, and Chinese five-spice powder. It was perfect, and it turns out it was his preferred method of preparing that soup, he just didn’t know how comfortable we were with spices. To which I say: flavors, we wants them!
This quiche was possibly the best I’ve tasted. The smoked Gouda really makes a difference!
Moving on to the second course, the crust-less quiche featured both ham and applewood-smoked bacon and a hearty amount of smoked Gouda. It, too, was very smooth and rich, so the accompanying salad of mixed greens with fruit and berry vinaigrette was the perfect foil to all the richness. The salad was also topped with some toasted sunflower seeds, something I’d suggested instead of nuts just to avoid other people’s potential allergies while still adding another layer of texture to the meal.
Oh, and did I mention that Honey Lake has their own chickens? These are super-fresh eggs Chef Bill gets to work with!
Country-fried steak, tomato and squash terrine, and biscuits with gravy (It’s the eggs in the gluten-free biscuits that make them so golden yellow.)
Finally, it was time for the third course—Chef Bill’s challenge: wheat free, lactose free, onion & garlic free country-fried steak, biscuits, and gravy. I think he met the challenge well! The steak was dredged in a mixture of arrowroot and rice flour, then pan fried in bacon fat. No, it doesn’t have the characteristic coating we’re used to, but that actually worked in its favor since I think (I didn’t ask at the time) he used something other than the traditional cube steak, so the quality of the meat was highlighted instead of masked by breading.
For our tasting we both had the gluten-free biscuits (made from GF Bisquick per the package recipe—might sound chintzy, but it’s the best option I’ve found so far, especially when you only need to make a couple at a time), but at the wedding the guests will have traditional buttermilk biscuits and only I’ll have the gluten-free ones. The gravy was Andouille-sausage gravy made with a safe-for-RT-tummies stock instead of cream (velouté vs. béchamel, for the foodies of the hive), though again, guests will have the regular. According to both Mr. Road Trip and Chef Bill, they actually taste about the same; it’s just that one looks a little different.
Since those dishes alone would have made for a very beige plate, Chef Bill suggested and I accepted a terrine of tomatoes and squash topped with a bit of cheese. You also see bacon on top—I mentioned that our goal was to have bacon as many places as possible, and he definitely took that to heart!
In fact, the only item we didn’t get a chance to try—the most popular if the comments on the last post are anything to go by—was the bacon-wrapped breadsticks. We’re still working on that one, but I did bring him a pizza dough recipe I thought might work so we’ll see if he’s able to experiment. Most guests will receive a conventional breadstick wrapped in bacon (I’m envisioning barber pole style, but we’ll have to wait and see), and I’ve opted to skip that if he cannot find something that meets his standards and is safe for me, too.
Because while he wants to do the best he can to please me and my palate, he also wants to make sure our guests walk away with a good impression of Honey Lake, and it does take some time to adjust to certain food substitutions, especially the non-wheat variety. And as a fellow chef I can totally get behind that.
We Road Trips trundled on home with full bellies and quite a lot to look forward to for our reception.
What was your menu-tasting experience like?