kappo at ma peche...with puppies!!!

I am known for launching a full-scale investigation into everything I am about to eat.  Most nights, I fall sleep with phone in hand, looking up menus, reviews, and pictures of food that I envision myself eating in the near or distant future.  This applies not only to celebratory meals, or date nights out - but also to the $4 omelette I plan on getting from the deli next to my office, or the almond croissant I've already committed to spoiling myself with later this weekend.  Rob thinks it's neurotic, and I'm inclined to think that he is right.

When I first read about the new Kappo counter at Má Pêche a few weeks agoI was shocked how little information there was to be found, despite my best researching efforts.  Believe it or not, there are people out there even crazier than me and before every momentous meal, I usually spend hours drooling over their professional-quality pictures and  meticulous descriptions.  But for Kappo there was no information at all, except for the fact that they had just begun offering a 10-course menu with the price tag of $95 a person - a great value for a 10-course meal, but expensive enough to make a risk-averse researcher like me reluctant.  I love David Chang and all he does (I fantasize about him catering my wedding), but I decided to wait it out until I could read more reports from others.

The next day, I realized that I had completely forgotten our four year anniversary.  I felt terrible, made a reservation, and pretended like I had planned it for weeks.  

It. Was. Awesome.  I am incredibly fortunate to have tried a fair number of tasting menus in this city.  Some of them may have had more life-changing food, but Kappo stood out for being bold, unpredictable, and fun.  Chef Carmichael is completely chill and personable, making it the least fussy and pretentious tasting I've ever had.  Normally I would be all up in those plates with my camera like a typical hipster taking pictures of food, but I was so engaged in my meal and the surroundings that I kind of just lost myself in the moment.  Isn't that one of the best compliments you can give to a restaurant?  It was an adventure from beginning to end, and if you're still dying to be surprised in an age where everyone has tweeted, instagrammed, and written a 1000-word essay about their meal at Eleven Madison (the pot calling the kettle black), then get here quick.

So here is an account of what we ate, accompanied not by fuzzy IPhone pictures with bad lighting, but by pictures of puppies!  Each puppy's level of happiness corresponds with my happiness with that particular course (you might note that they're all pretty darn happy).  

1st course: 
John Dory with kombu and horseradish

2nd course:  
Cobia with pickled jalapeno and pear

3rd course: 
Squid with popcorn, brown butter, chrysanthemum...
so strange and insane that it made absolute sense.

4th course: 
Lobster with cucumber, habanero, and breadfruit

5th course: 
Challah bread with smoked duck fat and salt...
freshly baked in a small oven around course two or three and placed in front of you gorgeously browned and steaming.  

6th course: 
Congee with quail egg, shrimp, and mushrooms

7th course: 
Barbecued pig tail with scrambled eggs, scallion, and peanut

8th course: 
Mofongo with garlic and chiccharon.  
I don't want to ruin any surprises but be prepared to 
roll up your sleeves and  get involved in this one.

9th course: 
Striped bass baked in a salt crust with herbs, dill chips, and lemon

10th course: 
Peanut butter frozen mousse with apple, elderflower, and meringue.

I haven't even mentioned the other little snacks and palate cleansers that delighted us in between courses.  Let's just say Chef Carmichael is the kind of guy that sneaks in a bite of luxurious uni as a bonus.  The menu changes according to availability of ingredients, the season, and whatever the hell Carmichael feels like making.  There are only eight seats at the bar, and only one seating per night.  If you want to taste what it is that made all these puppies so damn happy, get on making that reservation.

(I'm thinking the world might be a better place if we just start using puppy pictures for no particular reason at all.)