Chef’s Tasting and New Restaurant

by theelvee_w2oe3m

Last month we were able to partake in another tasting with friend and chef Jason Hook at the Jamison Publick House.  We’ve covered two of his previous tastings, one at the Glasbern Inn and one at the Fern Hall Inn.  This tasting was his second at the Jamison Publick House, and just the beginning of what he’s planning for the future.

The dinner started off with piping hot spoonbread served with a trio of butter: white truffle, pumpkin, and smoked sea salt.  The white truffle was extremely rich and earthy.  Chef Hook excels with truffles, bringing more flavor out than I can recall tasting anywhere else.  The pumpkin was fair and the smoked sea salt delivered a savory character.

 My favorite two courses were the squab and the venison.  The squab, brined in dashi and roasted, was succulent under the spice of curry.  The venison was the real winner here, however.  A beautiful blood red on the inside, achieved through sous vide and later roasted with pine needles, was simply dripping with excellence after being mopped through a reduction made with local concord grape juice.  And the finale, a pumpkin zabaglione with sour cream panna cotta and blueberry preserves, placed delicately beside a pile of graham cracker shavings?  Delicious.  The only thing I would’ve changed in the meal is the venison tartare.  Chef Hook did a riff on his steak tartare with burnt toast ice cream by incorporating venison tartare with Hendrick’s gin ice cream.  Having tasted the tartare with just seasoning and compressed apple, I would’ve been more than happy having it as such and the ice cream as a stand-alone dessert.  That and I’m a gin hound so a bowl of Hendrick’s gin sounds like heaven.

So then, about the future.  Chef Hook is partering with the owners of the Jamison Publick House to open a new restaurant in Upper Milford Township.  Details are being finalized at the moment, but what I can tell you is the spot is beautiful.  Beginning after the holidays, Hook will host a chef’s tasting-style dinner every Monday until the opening of the restaurant next year.  These dinners are designed to allow him to tinker with ideas and menu items for the new concept, H2O Kitchen.  The opening menu will feature a 17 course tasting menu as the centerpiece, with veggie and a la carte options as well.  Chef/partner Hook will be bringing in Kevin O’Cane, former chef at Four Seasons NY (among other restaurants) to co-chef the restaurant.  See the menu at the bottom of the page for a concept of the menu.  We’ll keep you posted with updates on H2O Kitchen as they’re available.

The venison tartare being mixed up in the kitchen

The beautiful stone-backed bar at the Jamison Publick House

Wood-slat bar where you can sit and enjoy a cocktail or beer

Dining room at Jamison

First course: spoonbread with a trio of butter

Blue crab with pumpkin mayonaise and quince

From left to right: Stellar Bay oyster, venison tartare with gala apple and gin ice cream, pumpkin mignonette on halibut crudo

Scallop with spaghetti squash, littleneck clam, brown butter

Foie gras with butternut miso and beech mushrooms

Risotto with pumpkin, chantarelle, chestnut toffee

Squab with applewood-smoked bacon, celery root, and curry

Venison with parsnip, brussel sprouts, concord grape sauce

Dining room after dinner

Pumpkin zabaglione, sour cream panna cotta, yuzu/blueberry preserve, graham cracker dust

Below: Concept menu for H2O Kitchen

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Kelsey November 27, 2011 - 9:15 am

I had the pleasure & the privilege to enjoy Chef Hook’s cooking at a wedding held at the Fern Hall Inn. Everything was amazing, everything was full of excellent flavor, and nothing was over the top. The presentation was elegant and interesting without being ridiculous. I loved everything I had and all of the guests had the same comments! The next time I have a chance to enjoy his food I will be traveling to the Lehigh Valley.

Karen Sanchez November 30, 2011 - 9:37 am

I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a dinner cooked by Jason Hook and I will never forget the wonderful experience. Everything was superb.

Merritt and Donna Weidner December 3, 2011 - 2:35 pm

Cudos and accolades about Jason Hook, chef extrodinaire. We have had the extraordinary pleasure of dining with Chef Hook both on a personal and a business level at Dan’s in Reading, PA., and at Glasbern, Fogelsville, PA. over the past 8 years. The experience itself, which is more comprehensive than the delicious food prepared and its creative presentation, has a comprehensive attention to detailed artistry. The printed, personalized menu are beautifully presented including the background and script. During the evening, Chef Jason periodically made his appearance in a very personal and warm way to explain the dish and receive feedback making his guests feel warm, welcome, and special.

The center of the dining experience was the palate and the unusual combinations of foods and flavors. Each course was an artistic and gastronomical masterpiece–a true work of art on a plate.

We are vegetarians tending more to veganism. We found in Chef Jason’s cooking a very unconventional approach to vegetarianism. The courses are always unique, opening a new and fuller dimension of vegan dining to us and to those with whom we have shared the Chef Hook experience. Interestingly enough, although we have dined with him many, many, times. We have such confidence in what is prepared and presented, that we have never preordered and, here’s the extraordinary part, we have never had the same dish twice. Even more interesting, there was not ever one course we did not totally enjoy. Chef Jason uses conventional and unconventional foods and combinations of ingredients and foods in creative and beautiful ways. The meal never comes down to “do you like it” for we always have but “which course did you like the most”. A difficult choice to say the least.

Chef Jason’s tasting menus are incredible. We have experienced as few as five course and as many as 13 courses each course more exciting and full of flavor than the next. With many of these unusual creations, Chef Jason shared both the ingredients and preparation process as well as the thought and inspiration behind each course.

We dined with Chef Jason both corporately and privately and have recommended him to friends and professional associates. We find Jason to be warm, friendly, personable, knowledgeable. Most of all, to be an artist who uses food and presentation as his canvas.

We have been fortunate enough to have dined at many Five Star restaurants and find the experience with Chef Jason Hook equal or beyond–say Six Stars. We wish him the best at h2o kitchen.

Merritt and Donna Weidner

President and Owner, MerriCo, LLC

Reading, PA

Sr. V.P., retired, Americana Portraits

West Orange, NJ

troy seibert December 7, 2011 - 8:01 pm

Great pictures!!! the food looks wonderful very proud of chef jaso hook keep up the great work

Americo December 15, 2011 - 8:22 pm

Jason and I worked together when we were just kids at L’espinasse. The world is lucky to have another sick NYC cook leave the city and spread the good word. Congrats Lehigh Valley, your gonna get it!

New Dinners Coming to Jamison Publick House | The El Vee December 28, 2011 - 12:02 am

[…] we mentioned in our last article on H2O Kitchen, Chef Jason Hook will be holding a few tastings at the Jamison Publick House to […]

Sean Moretti January 1, 2012 - 4:08 pm

I am so happy that Jason is “back in town”… My wife and I are looking forward to some World Class Dining, right here in Berks County. Welcome back Jason, hope to see you soon!

New Dinners at H2O Kitchen | The El Vee February 14, 2012 - 10:46 am

[…] we detailed back in November, Chef Jason Hook will be opening up H2O Kitchen later this year.  For a preview of the beautiful […]

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