Effectively combining ingredients to produce wonderful flavors likely is the essence of being a chef. Achieving those flavors with simple ingredients is a trick that few pull off. That is why Bridget Lieb of Sacred Beast thinks so highly of the salmon with brown butter entrée husband Jeromy has put together for patrons.
“It’s such a simple, classic dish, and it’s been on our menu since we opened. And it still remains one of our guests’ favorites,” she said of the salmon with brown butter.
Simple? “Yes, it’s just salmon cooked with salt and pepper. We cook it on the griddle; we griddle it until it gets nice and golden. Any time you cook anything on the griddle, there’s a flavor of griddle—it’s like cooking with cast iron, that same thing taking place.” The salmon is a skinless filet, and griddle cooking provides the perfect crustiness on the outside of the fish while preserving the moist succulence on the inside, she claimed.
The magic of this dish comes in the combination of brown butter as the sauce and add-ons that give the taste buds a variety of complementary, complex flavor treats. Browned butter is done in a sauté pan and poured over the cooked filet. After the pour, bits of lemon, capers and a mix of parsley and tarragon top the dish, which includes a side of blanched haricot verts (French green beans) seasoned with salt and pepper.
“With the small lemon segments on top, (the diner) gets a big pop of the lemon,” Lieb said, which creates a balance with the richness of the salmon and brown butter. “What I love about this dish is that it is so simple (in the ingredients used) and so well done (in concept and flavor pairings). It’s hard to get all that to come together. Some of our guests who have been coming here from the beginning, they order the salmon every time they come in,” she stated. That tells you something, and if you are a salmon lover as I am, bet you’ll enjoy Sacred Beast’s version.
Also in the wildly popular category is another simple dish, the deviled eggs plate from the Share It section of the menu. Can a body get any more homey-comfy than deviled eggs? I think not and am amazed that more eateries do not offer them. “It’s one of our number-one sellers. When you order the eggs, that’s when we pipe the filling on top (of the hard-boiled half of an egg white),” Bridget Lieb said.
But a lot happens before the piping. The filling is made with less mayonnaise and is less yellow that one might expect. The eggs that go into the recipe are done in two batches. One is cooked at a boil for seven minutes, and the other for 12 minutes, the latter producing a firmer yolk and a firmer white as well. The 7-minute eggs are used for the shells into which the “devil” is piped. The 12-minute eggs are combined in a food processor along with the 7-minute yolks, a bit of mayonnaise, some mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Again, a combination of simple ingredients.
After the piping, the eggs are topped with a dollop of pickled mustard seeds and a dollop of Calabrian chilis, chopped nearly to a paste. Lieb says the small dollop of mustard seeds provides a mustard-vinegar bite and the chilis provide just a touch of heat, and together create a mouth-watering treat. Jewish diners-out will want to hold the pork rinds that are sprinkled on top prior to serving.
Lieb spoke of the enthusiasm of her guests now coming back to normal dining patterns, and the fact that Sacred Beast had to cut back on days of operation because of personnel shortages. “People want to be out at restaurants again, and that’s great (for us). Right now, we have (only) one crew that works in our kitchen, and we are open Thursday and Friday nights, Saturday morning through dinner, and Sunday for brunch, and it’s really hard on them. So, we have to limit our hours (of operation) so we’re still giving a quality product and treating our staff with respect,” she said.
A hopeful sign is that more résumés are coming into Sacred Beast these days, according to Lieb. “This industry has been hit hard (by the pandemic), and Jeromy and I are wondering how many people have left it to do something else. But there are people who love the restaurant business, and we are lucky to have a lot of them working here,” she said. And she is confident that by the end of summer, Sacred Beast will be back to full throttle, “almost always open.”
See you at the Sacred Beast!
Sacred Beast Diner OTR
1437 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202