So, uh, I was back at The Libertine...again. I feel sort of guilty saying that, like when you order a pizza for dinner then tell people you had a salad and you hide the box at the bottom of the garbage can. Earlier in the week I saw that their menu had changed a good amount so I felt a taste test was necessary.
We started off trying two new additions to the cocktail list. The drink below is the Skatalites in Jalisco: Tequila Ocho Plata, creme de cassis, lime juice and ginger. The other was the Rushmore After Hours, made up of Tequila Ocho Plata, lemon juice, lemon balm syrup, and Chamomile bitters. Both were good, but I think I liked the Skatalites more. I also ordered a Love & Happiness, because that drink is great. Nate Weber makes getting drunk so enjoyable!
Instead of bread for the table, everyone is brought a little bowl of fried chickpeas topped with a Guanciale powder. Guanciale is a cured pork jowl or cheek, but the powder doesn't have a distinctly porky flavor. I've wondered if perhaps it's actually cocaine (or crack, considering they're free) since these little guys are crazy addictive. The fat and salt that the powder adds to the crunchy chickpeas makes them hard impossible to resist.
Even though there's a handful of new starters, we went with The Libertine classic Crispy Pig Tails ($10) because I am weak and they are my favorite guilty pleasure. They're cooked "Buffalo Style", served with whipped Gorgonzola and brown butter polenta. The accompaniments are just gilding the lily. The pork is the real star here. You may be surprised at the size of the portion--it's petite--but it's for your own health and well-being. Think of it like a spring roll, except you're only allowed to make it using pork. The outside is this super crunchy, chicharron like layer of what I think is fried pig skin with an extremely flavorful sausage-esque interior. If that doesn't sound good to you, you shut your mouth and get off of my site.
Next up was a special for the evening: local white asparagus with a duck egg, whole grain mustard, raisin-sherry puree and cornbread croutons. I feel like this is what hipster farmers are eating these days. The duck egg yolk mixed with the buttery cornbread, sweet whole grain mustard and tender asparagus was sublime. You missed out.
The "Not Really" BBQ Shrimp ($17) is an amalgamation of Korean food and the classic New Orleans BBQ shrimp. This dish seems to have been created just for me: obsessed with Asia and half my family comes from NOLA. It's spicy, buttery and all around goddamn fantastic. The best part of the dish might be soaking the bread in that sauce. Honestly, they could bottle that sauce and sell it. Gochujang (Korean pepper paste) is picking up steam just as Sriracha faces issues with burning the eyeballs and throats of all the residents near their factory. Or, if they're not going to sell it, maybe they should include some of it in one of their weekly CSA's (please?!).
I chose the evening's special instead of the shrimp, but you know I got my hands on some of this. When you're eating with me, you're sharing (but I might not be).
I've never been a huge fan of ordering cuts of pork for my mains, for some reason, but our wonderful waitress Kate and general manager Tori were both so emphatic about the dish I had to try it. Famed Red Wattle pork served with crispy gnocchi alla Romagna, shaved radishes and carrots, roasted shallots and a spicy Chimichurri. The pork was juicy and tender, reminding me more of a filet mignon than any piece of pork I've had before. It came with a surprisingly large amount of pork as well, which was a pleasant surprise. I couldn't even finish. I'd recommend you get it, but you likely won't ever have the chance. I'm sorry to let you down.
Time for dessert. Four out of the five desserts on the menu were recently added, so of course we had to give them a try. The first to grace our table was the Chocolate Milk Swiss Roll ($8), a play on the spongecake that Little Debbie has fattened kids up with since 1964. The chocolaty sponge cake is filled with a Cajeta horchata jam, which is sort of like a dulce de leche in flavor and texture. On the side are Gianduja rice crispies tasting like some fancy version of Cocoa Pebbles and a coconut milk sorbet. Out of the two desserts, this was my favorite.
This naughty, diabetes-inducing dessert is the Such & Such Maple Syrup ($8). The base is budino, an Italian dessert that seems to be somewhere between pudding and flan. On top of that is a coffee tuile, which is then topped with World's Fair Doughnut ice cream. Yes, it's doughnut flavored ice cream. Yes, it is amazing.