We’ve patiently awaited the return of Wheat & Sons since they left their Anaheim location last year. The beloved whole animal butchery offered magnificent cuts, delicious sandwiches, and always had the promise of more—if only they could get a chance somewhere to unveil their full vision. They're still in search of their next venture, but they're teasing eaters by offering pop-ups across OC. The latest was this past Monday at Irenia in SanTana; that night, Wheat & Sons' Nate Overstreet and Ashly Amador showcased the makings of what will become an auspicious eatery.
The night began with an amuse to synchronize diners appetites for the coming five-course menu. The house-cured fiocco, in one decadent bite, melted away the day's worries with its accompanying soft burrata cheese, complemented by thinly sliced flavorosa pluot. This is how amuse bouches should be: simultaneously simple yet extraordinary.
The first course was a celery victor & geoduck salad. Roughage usually becomes an afterthought when paired up with elaborate corresponding dishes but this was substantial enough to stand proudly against the meats to come. Delicately sliced geoduck sashimi was strategically placed atop a bed of little gem lettuce tossed in a warm citrusy peppadew vinaigrette and braised celery; mint leaves and parsley sprinkled throughout served as a palate cleanser, allowing every bite to feel like the first.
Next came the 7-minute eggs. Meticulously timed out, allowing for a barely set center and sliced right down the middle for creamy yolk runoff. The eggs were mixed with leafy frisee drizzled in a tangy sorrel aioli that cut through the rendered schmaltz and crispy chicken skin. To finish the dish, a sprinkling of herbaceous chives, slivered radish and smoked paprika.
Following the starters were braised turnips in smoked marrow bone broth, red mizuna, lemon ginger and shellfish chili relish. What else to say except YUM.
Guests then had the choice between two main courses: a grass-fed beef flat iron steak drizzled with pickled walnut butter and toppled with ripe tomatoes...
...or smoked chicken legs atop roasted cauliflower served with a vibrant sauce composed of Calabrian chili, lemon, anchovy and parsley reminiscent of chimichurri. The smoke flavor didn’t overpower the dish; instead it pleasantly seeped into the moist chicken to impart a hickory savor.
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For dessert, Esther offered her take on a Jello salad—a bold move considering the dessert is nowadays only acceptable in Utah. The Jello salad served as a testament to the chef's deft utilizing every bit of an animal, as they rendered the refreshing lime gelatin for this sweet course from pork fat. Add roasted marshmallow ice cream, fresh strawberries, whipped cream and sweet-n-salty house-made pretzel crumbs, and this turned out spectacular.
Together, chef Nate and Ashly showcased their unique talents and technique, with an attention to detail evident in each dish. One hopes and prays Wheat & Sons gets a brick and mortar sooner, rather than sooner. In the meanwhile, the only way to experience this monthly dinner series is to follow Wheat & Sons on Facebook and Instagram to stay connected. Better yet, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to see when they'll pop up next. Enjoy!