I saw a famous chef cooking in her own kitchen. At lunch service, nonetheless.
That shouldn’t be a huge deal…but it is.
In this day and age of celebrity chefs with huge restaurant empires, it’s not the most common thing to see an acclaimed chef cooking inside her own restaurant instead of jet-setting to fabulous events.
So imagine my thrill at seeing Sarah Jenkins walking through Porsena Extra Bar, her diminutive add on to the loved East village Italian restaurant Porsena.
Porsena Extra bar is small and narrow, with – as the name implies – a long bar at which you can sit and drink some wine from the extensive, excellently priced list. As far as food goes, don’t expect strictly Italian dishes like next door. Instead, expect some of Jenkins’ more whimsical dishes.
Simple and perfect. The fig jam is sweet but not cloying or sugary it really tastes just like ripe, jammy figs. It is served with spicy salami that is garlicky and peppery but not salty or greasy. It is soft in texture, multifaceted in taste, and works well with that sweet jam and the creamy, mild goat cheese. The bread is literally perfect – not too hard, not too squishy. This sandwich is just beautifully constructed, and is served with a light, bright salad where even the cucumbers are peeled and sliced on a bias.
It’s that attention to detail that really make a difference.
This puts all other kimchee/cheese combos to shame. Yes, I’m saying this beats them all. The Pullman bread is soft and incredibly buttery, so it has a crispy, thin layer where it has touched the grill. Underneath that sheath is a soft, buttery layer of bread. It melts into the American cheese and kimchee puree filling. The filling is subtle – I might not even know that it was kinchee if I hadn’t read the menu. The filling is creamy and beautifully gooey, but with a slightly spicy garlicky tang that isn’t overtly fishy or salty. The kimchee puree cuts through the buttery richness of the other ingredients and makes this rich sandwich a star. Split it with a friend or be prepared to take a long nap afterwards.
Porsena Extra Bar is a gem. It’s super inexpensive for the quality, with a very cheap and high quality happy hour. In the evening, there is an entirely different menu than the one at lunch, and you can also order food from Porsena next door. The service is jovial and efficient, and the vibe is perfect for a solo lunch.
Plus, Sara Jenkins is in the kitchen either here or next door. , overseeing the food
It shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it totally is.