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Stockton inn Hansen salmon roe - Photo credit Peter Breslow

Beet Farfalle w/salmon roe. Photo credit Peter Breslow

Forget anything you think you know about the Stockton Inn – the new Stockton Inn is gunning to be the best restaurant in the region! Based on our first meal there, it is well on its way to that goal with the addition of rising star Chef Alan Heckman.

Evy and I went for the inaugural Guest Chef Tasting Menu, featuring one of our favorite local chefs, Max Hansen (read about Max in this post). The menu, a salmon-lovers dream, featured four tastings of salmon followed by a luscious dessert. While it’s fresh in my mind, let me describe our food. I apologize for the lack of photos, but I was too busy enjoying my food to stop and take photos!

Chefs Hansen and Heckman

Chefs Max Hansen and Alan Heckman getting ready to serve the anxious crowds

Chef Max Hansen is a salmon aficionado. There are probably few people outside of the Pacific Northwest who know how to pay respect to this fine fish better than Max. Knowing this, I had high hopes for this special menu. In spite of that, our dinner at the Stockton Inn surpassed our expectations. That does not happen often so we were very pleasantly surprised.

photo courtesy Peter Breslow

Salmon Napoleon. Photo courtesy Peter Breslow

First course was the “Max and Me” smoked salmon Napoleon. “Max and Me” smoked salmon is Hansen’s own smoked salmon, considered among the best in the country. The dish was flavorful, airy and delicious. The salmon melted on the tongue and the interplay of the salmon, crème frâiche, onion and pastry were, in a word – perfect.

Second was a boldly flavored dish with salmon roe, beet farfalle (pictured above), and everything bagel crumbs (they call it Gremolata, but really, it’s crumbs 🙂 ). I was surprised by how much I liked the dish. Based on these ingredients, you know it was anything but subtle. The saltiness of the bagel crumbs and roe augmented the pasta just right. I could easily have eaten an entree of this dish.

Next up was a marinated salmon with asparagus. This was back to a more subtle flavor composition. Salmon was nicely prepared, still moist and flavorful. Again, this in itself would be a beautiful entree but I was delighted to have the tasting so as to enjoy salmon in so  many ways.

The final salmon dish was the hot-smoked salmon with bok choy and sticky sushi rice. Back to the bold flavors! I’ve been smoking a lot of food recently, and have really come to appreciate a good smoking job – one that enhances the natural flavors of the ingredients without smothering it. And this dish delivered on that promise. I was sad when the last bite disappeared, and had to take my time to savor those flavors.

Our delicious meal of salmon was capped off with a stunning dessert. Like the salmon dishes, it was creative, light and delicious – something I could eat regularly without growing bored. It bode well for the future of this storied restaurant.

This is undoubtedly just the first in many times I will mention the reinvented Stockton Inn on these pages. You can be sure we’ll be back to sample Chef Heckman’s primary menu as well as those of future guest chefs.

If Chef Heckman can continue to meet the quality standards we experienced in this outstanding meal, the Stockton Inn will regain its luster and become one of the most important destinations for Dining Along the Delaware.


Postscript

You’ve probably noticed that my reviews contain a lot of superlatives. That’s because Dining Along the Delaware is different from food review sites. Instead of posting reviews about any old place in the area, I select only those that are worth dining at. If it appears on these pages, you can be sure that’s it’s among the best in the region.