The bar at Againn last night was all but full when I walked in at 8 p.m., but the crowd had thinned out a bit by the time my dining companion joined me around 8:40. We could have grabbed a table -- there were plenty -- but decided to stay and eat at the bar.
We started with the Potted Pork, confit pork shoulder, onion marmalade ($10), along with a basket of really good, hearty bread. The potted pork was fantastic, superbly creamy and flavorful without being too salty, and I'm a goner for any kind of caramelized onion. The toast triangles -- bigger than traditional toast points -- served with it ran the risk of running out before the pork, but I'm not nearly dainty enough to care and just slathered on the spread with abandon, spread-to-bread ratio be damned. Forget about that, though, because it's time to discuss the Corned Lamb's Tongue, warm fingerling potatoes, green sauce, puntarelle ($14). The tongue was out-of-this-world die-happy-now phenomenal.* There was an undercurrent of caraway that really brought home the corning of the meat, and the sauce (which I'm still trying to identify -- almost chimichurri-esque, but less piquant), with the tongue and a bite of the perfectly cooked tiny potatoes, made for a masterful synthesis of flavors. The greens laid delicately on top (to hide the meat from squeamish eyes? hmmm) had just enough bite on their own to work as a palate-cleanser between bites.
If Rachel is there, by the way, ask her for a rye old-fashioned to go with the lamb's tongue. It's a match made in bartending nirvana.
If I hadn't been famished, I would have made a meal out of these two, but somehow we also ended up with two entrees. The Grandmother's Braised Chicken, roasted root vegetables, bacon, pork sausage, marjoram, butterball potatoes ($26) contained a leg and thigh of such expertly herbed chicken that it had enough flavor to match the riot of pork and vegetables accompanying it in its Calvados-and-broth sauce. The Tamworth Pork Belly, Anson Mill's white grits, baby mizuna ($24) was fantastic, the sear setting off the soft meat in each bite, and the grits, greens, and sauce rounded out the plate to create what might be my new favorite comfort food.
After all that, there was absolutely no need for Sticky Toffee Pudding, stout ice cream, toffee caramel ($8), except, you know: Guinness ice cream. I also quite liked the Banoffee Pie, bananas, caramelized milk, graham biscuit, cream, ganache ($8) as well, with its cloud of milky, creamy goodness (and because I like bananas mostly in desserts), but really: Guinness ice cream.
I used to live around the corner from Againn, and I'm frankly slightly sad I don't now, because this food is beyond good, possibly beyond great. More tables should have been filled last night, but my guess is that it's only a matter of time. Until then, I'm going back as often as my schedule will allow. And yes, I'm getting the tongue.**
*I fully expect someone to take this sentence out of context.
**This one too.