Skillet‘s motto is rustic urban food. Their mission is ingredient driven comfort food – with an edge and they do it well. The food is familiar but with a creative twist. I was smitten immediately. What could be more comforting than warm vanilla and mascarpone breakfast risotto with pan-roasted peaches brûlée with bourbon molasses red eye gravy. Skillet is on Whittier Avenue in the old Banana Bean location. They have been open for weekday lunch and weekend brunch for two weeks, but as of Tuesday 3rd November they will be open for dinner until 8pm.
I waited to write about Skillet until I had been there a couple of times and by the joy of eating with friends I have sampled a large proportion of the menu. I have also established that my initial reaction was not a fluke. Everything has been at worst good and at best excellent. As the menu will be driven by the availability of seasonal ingredients (the owners are supplied directly by several farms), the menu will vary on a weekly or daily basis with some staples. The menu is available on the website and you can call orders in advance. Here’s a teaser.
A few things to know about Skillet. You order from the counter and your food will be brought to you, similar to Northstar but without the number, as the restaurant only seats twenty. It is thus hoped that a large proportion of the business will be take out. Something I loved – there is a discount for two-wheel customers. Another thing you should know in advance is that you will be torn between telling everyone you know about it, and keeping it a secret for yourself.
Ordering at the large window not only gives you an insight into the goings on in the kitchen, but also allows you to chat to the chefs (when they aren’t too busy) and makes it easy to ask questions (and get answers) about the dishes and ingredients. The chefs certainly aren’t afraid of fat or garlic and while there are some vegetarian options, this is a small proportion of the menu.
My favorite dishes so far have been the toasted sandwiches – the porchetta (I think I was sold on the wild fennel pollen) and the braised beef short rib with smoked gouda on grilled brioche. The beef was tender and rich, the fried peppers were spicy and the cheese smoky all offset by the light crispy brioche. I added some of the apple horseradish sour cream and the effect was to make my lunch companion jealous.
Don’t neglect the side dishes. One of the gems of the menu is the crispy fingerling potatoes with burnt ends. Irresistible. Also at the moment they have pan roasted beets with goats cheese and almonds and they have some great breads. If you are lucky there might even be some homemade jam.
The lunch menu is sandwich focused but the dinner menu will have some specific dinner entrees. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. Skillet is a great addition to the German Village and Columbus restaurant scene.