A Molecular Gastronomist, a Forager and a Mixologist Walk into a Bar...


When Travis Cook picked up the phone on Monday evening, he had just finished a long day of foraging. And while he wouldn’t tell us where he was exactly (check your gardens, people), he will be preparing all the random and edible plants, herbs and flowers he found at his new, semi-temporary “we’ll see how it goes” pop-up.

Starting Thursday, March 29 until it either becomes so popular he is forced to open his own restaurant or until people stop coming, Cook, who has spent the last six years working under Michelin-starred and James-Beard-Award-winning chefs, is turning The Unresolved Love Life of Evelyn Lee (the newest bar from the folks who brought us Dear Mom and Thieves Tavern) into his test kitchen, where he will be subjecting the freshest of ingredients to the full molecular treatment. (And you thought Ferran Adrià had ridden that horse into the sunset.)

“Yes, there will be chemicals,” promises Cook (think soy lecithin, gelatins and xanthan gum) and crazy contraptions like sous-vide and immersion circulators, but “these are merely ways to play with the textures of the food while not manipulating the fresh flavors” of the cuisine. The menu, which will change every week, will consist of three small plates (at $3 each) and will offer only the barest of descriptions. This week’s menu, for example, reads “shrimp, pork, asparagus.” While Cook isn’t shy about his secrets (it is prepared in front of you after all) he hopes that the food will “inspire engagement.” Yes, he is suggesting you put the iPhone down for a minute and play with your food.

The fact that it is a bar should be conducive to this. Rob Queenin, a bartender at Evelyn Lee and collaborator on the project, will be creating and suggesting cocktails that pair well with the dishes. This week, he is making a simple Aperol negroni, which he thinks is light enough that it won’t “overwhelm the palate.” On Thursdays, at least, Queenin seems content to take the back seat. “The food comes first,” he says.

Molecular Bar Snack will take place every Thursday indefinitely at 491 Potrero from 7-10 pm. Cook will be preparing only 30 of each dish (90 total), so we recommend getting there early if you have heart set on, say, panna cotta made with crème fraiche (which may or may not be served).

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