You can tell Second Floor Restaurant Chef J. Chastain likes to play mad scientist.
In fact, the scenario on Friday evenings is almost like one of those eerie, preternatural stories that take place in some dark castle: Chastain, usually chained in the back of the restaurant in the Westin Galleria, ordering around his minions who dutifully craft the delectable dishes that are whisked away into the dining area of the restaurant or upstairs to patrons ordering room service, emerges on this night and creates his laboratory in the bar. It takes hours to prepare all the potions and legal poisons for the event to come, and you can imagine him wringing his hands in anticipation, holding a test tube up to the light and declaring “It’s alive!”
Perhaps this slightly over-dramatizes the new Molecular Mixology event that is now being showcased at the Second Floor Friday evenings, but I promise upon closer inspection you will not be disappointed. As specialty cocktails go, we in Dallas have seen our fair share, so it’s got to be more than smoke and mirrors to give us a shock. Whatever that is, Chastain’s got it by the boat load, and most of it comes by way of a giant jug of liquid nitrogen.
“I was against it at first,” says Chastain of the concept of bringing nitrogen into the kitchen. “I didn’t think my clientele base would be in to it.” That didn’t stop him from having fun with it, however, creating strange concoctions with various culinary ingredients, whatever popped into his head. But wasn’t it unfortunate that such grand productions would be lost in translation if made in the kitchen, considering dishes like candied popcorn tossed in nitrogen don’t stay smoking long (an example of one of Chastain’s crazy amuse-bouches, which if eaten fast enough will cause you to breathe cool smoke out of your nose.) So the obvious choice was to showcase the newfound gastro-molecular goodness bar side, where guests can ooh and aah at their smoking cocktails and strawberry caviar.
Seriously. Strawberry caviar. It’s the defining moment for the Strawberries and Cremant cocktail, one of five creations listed on the menu, which comes complete with Albrecht French Champagne. Here’s a little insight on how the caviar is made: you take some strawberry puree mixed with calcium chloride, inject it through a sort of plastic cheese grater that forms the mixture into tiny balls, and then you drop it into a batch of sodium alginate. This makes tiny little jelly balls of strawberries, which Chastain will then add to your champagne. Voila! Now you can do it at home, right?
I feel your pain. As someone who failed chemistry miserably I am completely lost in all this shop talk. Thankfully you don’t have to take a test here, just kick back, sip a Nitrogen Car Bomb and enjoy the show.
It’s reservation only for the event, so call The Second Floor at 972.450.2978 to schedule your cocktail hour for this Friday evening. Starts at 6 p.m. The Second Floor, 13340 Dallas Parkway, www.thesecondfloorrestaurant.com