Delaware Dining: A review of The House of William and Merry on Old Lancaster Pike in Hockessin by Matt Amis
The House of William and Merry dares to be different.
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Hoffman and Galloway drive this crazy train, and they make it work. Scallops with avocado and French toast is utter Chefs Gone Wild, but it is not a typical menu item (instead, it came as part of a six-course chef’s menu one night). Hoffman’s nightly offerings often do push boundaries of flavors and concepts, but in a much more intuitive way.
A starter plate of tuna tartare sparkled in a swathe of cotton-candy-pink beet foam while cool cubes of watermelon and citrus mingled with the fish to compose a savory, refreshing assembly that went down like a poolside cocktail. Another night, the kitchen constructed the dish in a ring mold, with dots of pink and yellow watermelon purée encircling the tuna like a life preserver.
From the dessert menu sprang “Strawberry Fields,” the deranged, rich cousin of the old “dirt pie” dessert everyone’s mom used to make. The “dirt” at W&M is made from toasted and pulverized Marcona almonds (the Spanish “Queen of Almonds”—softer and sweeter than the stuff in supermarkets) and the strawberries are macerated in balsamic vinegar. Squares of homemade panna cotta had me craving more time to run in this field.
Consider all this terrific fun for food geeks. Yet Hoffman, clearly an ambitious chef hoping to make his name, also triumphed when he dialed down the dazzle and stuck with traditional flavor arrangements. Take his eight-hour veal, its meat slowly braised tender, and its fatty top layer fried, separately, into crispy, salty, heavenly oblivion. A nice summer succotash, brightened by backyard corn, played an applaudable second-fiddle, but this dish belonged to the meat. Typically a tough, fatty chop, the veal breast was rendered here pliable and rich in robust veal flavor.
Meanwhile, an eight-ounce sirloin got upstaged by a study of onions—among a few roasted cipollinis were sautéed onions that matched the sweet pitch of red wine demiglace, plus a few onions that had been fried into the best onion rings this side of the Charcoal Pit.
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