Foodography and a first look: Williams & Graham
Two years ago, I was sitting at the bar at Highland Tavern, the purpose of which was not to eat, but to drink. But when a bartender handed over a menu, I was intrigued. It was anything but your standard issue bar board. Rather, the menu was full of food that I wanted to eat, including a pork knuckle sandwich that later earned a well-deserved spot on our list of 100 Favorite Dishes.
That dish was the effort of David Bumgardner, now the executive chef of Williams & Graham, a prohibition era speakeasy in Highland that opened earlier this week. And while Bumgardner isn't doing the pork knuckle sandwich at Williams & Graham, his menu -- tight, classic and tidy -- is, yet again, a compilation of foodstuffs that makes me want to hunker down in one of the deep burgundy booths, and stuff myself silly.
"I tried to do as much research as I could about food from the prohibition era, and what I'm doing here is fresh, updated versions of that style of food," says Bumgardner, whose repertoire of dishes zigzags from boar bacon to bacon beignets to a deconstructed Waldorf salad. "I took grandma's Waldorf salad, took it apart, put it back together again and made it look pretty," he explains.
"It's all classic food that I'm revisiting," notes Bumgardner of the seasonal menu, which also includes "stuffed," rather than the more ubiquitous deviled eggs. "We decided to go with stuffed eggs instead of deviled eggs, because it's an older term, and deviled eggs are just one type of stuffed eggs, which means I have the ability to change things up whenever I feel like it, "he says, adding, too, that he has the same freedom with the pâtés and terrines, which will change on a whim, although he's partial to pork.
"We're kind of pig-crazy around here," confesses Bumgardner, who says that he's also partnered with Pig & Block, a new charcuterie and butcher shop that opened last month just a snout's toss from Williams & Graham. "Pig & Bock will do some specific recipes just for us, which we're really excited about."
And after spending a few hours in Bumgardner's kitchen, where I had the opportunity to taste -- and photograph -- the majority of his dishes, I couldn't be more excited to spend an evening at Williams & Graham surrounded by some seriously good food, which you can view on the following pages.