One of Kendall’s best kept secrets, is the somewhat hush-hush tasting series held at Devon Seafood + Steak. Each month the restaurant hosts a specially themed event showcasing its different menu offerings, paired with custom made cocktails at prix fixe rates.
Executive Chef Rod Chitikov and his Sous Chef Drew Thomason, are the culinary masterminds behind the interesting fare at Devon. Being highly competitive, the two decided to compete mano y mano against each other in the ultimate Oyster Battle Royale. Both Chefs were given the opportunity to create three courses paired with custom made cocktails giving tribute to our delectable friend, the Oyster. Lucky for me, I was fortunate enough to be one of the lucky guests… SO LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
But, before we get started, I thought I would take a moment to speak about our featured appetizer, the house made Cheddar Peppercorn Biscuits. I didn’t plan to eat one, because I thought it would just get in the way of all the other goodies. So I ended up eating three of them instead, I just couldn’t help myself. The crispy flaky biscuits paired well with the salt covered whipped butter, dipped in maple syrup.
Our first plate is a Creamy Miso with Asian Oyster Pesto Spring Roll prepared by Chef Drew. Imagine a light cool wrap, filled with oyster, pickled enokitake, fresh ginger, garlic, green onion, and spicy wasabi roe sitting in a wondrous mystery sauce, garnished with what appears to be roasted kale. This was paired with a cold refreshing Lychee Cooler which also happened to be my favorite drink of the night. This dish was tasty, satisfying and an excellent start to this Oyster battle.
Next up is Chef Rod’s Deconstructed Gazpacho Salad, an oyster stuffed cucumber aspic garnished with balsamic bread crumbs, topped with marinated blue crab, and paired with a delectable drink known as the Day in Venice. When the plate hit the table, it was at this point that two things were made very clear to me. First, you had to have the adventurous mindset of a foodie in order to continue with this tasting. Second, Chef Rod was not holding back, I mean he really swung for the fences with this one. The best way for me to describe this (and I’m not sure I’m doing it any justice) is to imagine cucumber infused gelatin, with oyster at its core. This was definitely not a dish for the faint of heart. Though I applaud Chef Rod for his out of the box thinking, I have to give this first round to Chef Drew.
Our second course and now third meal is Chef Drew’s, Oysters al Gratin. With onion, garlic, cloves, bay leaf, horseradish, andouille sausage and Tabasco bread crumbs, this was a dish that came with a spicy kick. It was paired with an Cashew Bourbon. I was pleased to discover that my bowl had no less than eight oyster pieces in it. As a matter of fact, there were several comments made at my table regarding the surprisingly large amount of oysters found in each meal. I guess it goes without saying that these guys aren’t stingy when it comes to their seafood. What an interesting texture, the crunchy Tabasco bread crumbs went nicely with the soft but perfectly cooked oyster. Hey Chef Rod, this is going to be a tough one to beat.
I had a touch of contempt with Chef Rod’s next plate, the Oysters and Grits, because I’m not a big fan of grits. To me they are gritty, tasteless versions of soft sand. Surely they had no place in this Oyster Battle. Pictured above is a seasoned and deep fried oyster over creamy grits slathered in spicy creole gumbo, paired with a Kentucky Berry Bowl. OK, lets give her a taste… I WAS WRONG! I absolutely loved this dish! It prompted me to ask the waiter for a second portion, but unfortunately there weren’t enough. Chef Drew I had your back, but Chef Rod won this round for changing my opinion of grits. I can proudly say that I love grits now, well at least the ones from Devon Seafood + Steak.
We’re on our third course, which is actually meal number five, the Oyster Tortellini paired with a sweet Passion Fruit Lemon Drop. Hmmm, this was going to be an interesting one. Goat cheese covered, oyster stuffed, tortellini on a honey beurre blanc, white balsamic reduction sauce. This was not one of my favorites, not because the flavor wasn’t there, (it was still tasty) but because I was disappointed that the oyster didn’t stand out. With each of the other dishes you knew that an oyster was part of the dish but honestly if no one had told me that this was an Oyster Battle I wouldn’t have known that there was oyster in this pasta. My table unanimously agreed that this plate wouldn’t be the winner of the two because it just didn’t have that pizazz needed in this competition. It’s all up to Chef Rod to take this next round for the win.
Wait, what the @#$! am I looking at? I’m honestly a little afraid to open it up for fear that an alien may pop out and bite me, or worse yet take a bite of my food.
Ah ok, now it makes sense, this is the Baked Oysters in Parchment. A basic dish consisting of oysters prepared in a smoked paprika butter sauce, mixed with corn, beans and sprinkled with cilantro. It was brilliantly paired with a Pisco in Jalisco. The simplicity of this oyster bake is what made it so appealing to me. Each oyster chunk was precisely infused with the smokiness of the paprika butter and with the addition of the vegetable goulash it made for a satisfyingly hearty meal. I’m a sucker for a good oyster bake and Chef Rod you hit the nail on the head with this one.
We’re at the end of this battle and only one victor can emerge. I voted Chef Rod for the win 2-1. His dishes were savory, his drinks were paired perfectly and he wasn’t afraid to mix things up. Consequently the majority of the other guests voted for him as well, making him the people’s choice.
So if you’re in the Kendall area, are looking for a delicious bite and craving tailor-made drinks, make sure you visit Devon Seafood + Steak.
Written & Photographed by FitFatFoodies