The pop-up restaurant phenomenon has taken the kosher world by storm, giving the world a taste of food that wasn’t previously even perceivable, and making it possible for kosher foodies to envision a life of delicious cuisine. From dorm rooms to street fairs to the actual restaurant venue, pop-ups have cropped up in the most unexpected places, typically to diners hungry for a culinary adventure. And that’s what they get. At Stamford’s esteemed Six Thirteen restaurant, Dini Klein of Dini Delivers (dinidelivers.com) ran her first-ever pop-up to two back-to-back sold-out showings.
Patrons visited from as far as Brooklyn, Teaneck, Long Island and even St. Louis to enjoy Klein’s cuisine, all of which were paired with various wines from Royal Wine Corp. The evening began with beet rutabaga crisps with “Parmesan” dust, as well as a pickled summer crudite, a beautiful colorful plating of beets, carrots and other seasonal vegetables, which had a nice hint of acidity and kicked off the night on a fun note. The fruit dish was paired with one of Klein’s favorites, a sangria, with strawberry-watermelon flair.
Following the vegetable plate, patrons were served a mahi mahi eggroll with three sauces: a papaya salsa, a chili lime crema and a jalapeno chimichurri, which was paired with Binyamina Reserve Chardonnay. The eggroll was unlike any other, with people who normally dislike eggrolls stating how much they absolutely loved it. Murmurs were heard throughout the venue of how delicious it tasted, with multiple “this is really good” coming from various tables. For some, it was the first time they ever tasted this popular fish, giving credence to the whole pop-up scene and how foodies can explore without breaking the bank, because there’s usually something for everyone at these events. The eggroll certainly did not disappoint.
Klein’s next dish was a meat dish, a lemongrass lamb kabob with a tzatziki-herb wash. This succulent lamb dish, which was paired with a Shiloh Legend II 2011, was also well received by the patrons and had a beautiful presentation.
Bearing in mind the beautiful weather, with a whole group of people seated outdoors, the next course was a carrot gazpacho. The soup was plated first with orange rinds and relish in the center, with the servers walking around and pouring the soup in the dish after patrons had a chance to see what they’d be enjoying it with. It was a favorite of the night for many. Klein’s gazpacho was rich, and together with the relish and orange rind, the burst of extra flavors really enhanced the soup. Every bite was different.
A soy-braised brisket with shiitake-miso grits and eggplant char, paired with a Segal’s Special Reserve Merlot, was next on the menu. A similar dish was tasted by one of the foodies at a famous eatery in Los Angeles that is run by a former Top Chef contestant. Yet, this patron said that Klein came out on top. Her dish had a great flavor in its individual components, with the grits concept coming off full of flavor, but coupled with the meat that had both heat and sweet, the overall plate was delicious.
By then, most were already more than satiated, but, of course, many were excited for more—Klein’s dishes certainly built momentum. A baharat-crusted chicken was plated with a summer succotash of other seasonal vegetables and a tomato coconut cream. The chicken was tender, juicy and cooked perfectly. It had a nice crunch with the added vegetables. The chicken was paired with a Barkan Superieur 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Finally, it was time for dessert, served with Klein’s homemade limoncello. The phyllo sachet, a delicious dish of bruleed pineapple, chocolate ganache, curried caramel and tropical fruit, was an impressive close of an otherwise incredible evening. The alcoholic concoction was a delicious fruity adventure, topped with a snow cone, and it was fun to watch as other diners tried to figure out how best to enjoy it.
Klein’s partnership with the Stamford restaurant was a tremendous success. Not only did it expand the reach of an incredible chef and a successful kosher venture, it really showed how businesses, when working together to empower the kosher culinary world, can raise it to tremendous heights. With amazing texture, flavor, presentation and company, Klein’s food blew many out of the water, even with Elan Kornblum of Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine expressing how impressed he was. It was, after all, an unforgettable evening.
By Tamar Weinberg