Halcyon: Goddess of Mediocrates

31 Jul

Without a doubt, my favorite part about being on tour with John on the weekends is looking up and asking for great restaurants. We try to go for ones that kind of encapsulate the feeling of the city that we’re in, and since we have been cities known for their BBQ, we’ve been drowning ourselves in tangy barbecue goodness.

But we are over it. Had too much, can’t imagine having anymore. Kind of like when I went to Pakistan, years ago for a friends wedding, and can no longer have curry of any kind.

Which is a shame, because North Carolina is known for their tangy, vinegary Carolina-BBQ and I just (literally) cannot stomach that.

So we asked around, and decided upon a restaurant called “Halcyon: Flavors from the Earth”. Which, now that I am typing it out, is a kind of terrifying name for a restaurant, while not at all a terrifying name for a big budget follow-up to the blockbuster, “Halcyon: The Beginning”.

Aesthetically, it was very promising. I dunno if any of you have been to ABC Kitchen in nyc, which has a really wonderful menu…unexpected flavors and super diverse options…love it…but anyhow, Halcyon is definitely trying to be in the family of ABC Kitchen, while only remaining as the creepy cousin whose wife mysteriously died and he was ruled out as a suspect but, sigh, everyone in the family totally knows he is capable of such a terrible thing and it becomes and open secret at family gatherings. That’s Halcyon. The little-bit-off cousin you don’t really want to be associated with as ABC Kitchen. (Although Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore blew even ABC Kitchen out of the water for me.) **note: John says it’s more like the less-cute sibling of a very famous actor. They kinda look the same, but you can tell which one is the star and which one gets sent money. This makes much more sense than what I said.

The idea of all the restaurants I just mentioned is the “farm to table” concept, which is basically knowing exactly where your food is coming from, down to the exact farm and date the food was shipped.

It’s a nice idea. But at Halcyon, it was just done….meh. The waiter was very detailed about the farms (I tune this part out), then when I asked “what do you recommend from the menu”, he was very quick to say “THE DUCK. DEFINITELY.” And there is where the most boring, bland adventure ever began.

By the way, it really pains me to even write anything negative about a meal that was so beautifully presented  in such a wonderful setting. We are lucky to be able to eat like this at all, but yeah. Their food was….bleh.

Starters:

Pea soup. On the specials menu. I guess it was special in the way that it was the only thing the entire night with flavor and even then it was only sorta-good. Very hearty, tasted ok, but also borderline cold. It cannot be that hard to serve a hot soup. It just can’t.

Meatball Trio. I forget what the trio even was. My guess would be Dry, Drier, and Driest. Might have been one of the worst things I have ever been so confidently served to me in a nice restaurant. So thick and pasty and try. Hard to swallow. Don’t make me relive this, please.

Goat Cheese Panna Cotta. This, I could get down with. But yeah, it was just a slab of goat cheese, and everything else around it wasn’t that great. So I’ll go ahead and thank the goat, not the chef. Thank you goat, great job on your cheese.

Rabbit Rillettes. I went in already hating the idea of this. I really, reallllly hate the idea of pate (let’s find a way to turn liver into a creamy, spreadable texture that will still be somehow so much worse than liver in it’s original state!) and I hate foie gras, and this dish was a mix of both, with rabbit liver. Cringe. But it was edible. John actually liked it, but I wouldn’t go that far. Is edible really what we’re going for these days in restaurants? Sigh.

Mains:

Aaaah, the duck. The duck that the waiter was so eager for us to try. Rightfully so, because it was the best thing we had. So take that however you’d like. It was well cooked and almost tasty. Nothing special, but after everything we had tried before hand, it was a welcome treat.

Finally, the pork chop…

I’m already so bored just talking about this place. It all looks great right? Was Halcyon some sort of mythological greek character that roamed around wearing elaborate, fancy jewels and silk togas but inside was just…dull? That’s the only thing that would make sense to me here.

Oh. The pork chop was fine. I could do better. You could do better. Maybe this place was solely built to make us all feel like better cooks.

So selfless! I take it all back. Thank you. Thank you, Halcyon.

17 Responses to “Halcyon: Goddess of Mediocrates”

  1. Elise July 31, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    I ate at Woodberry Kitchen a couple of weeks ago and it was one of the best meals I have ever had. I had a fish dish that came with the most amazing mushrooms that just tasted like buttery bliss

  2. becs July 31, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    brilliant post. i love the food adventures you two make the effort to partake in while on tour. i’m generally a fan of the “farm to table concept,” but it is too bad the meal sucked.

    so did you muster the courage to send any of the dishes back? or is the blog your new go to passive agressive way of sending an indirect msg to the chef. even if you ever do send a dish back, i hope you never deny your readers the pleasure of reading your positive or negative critique.

  3. Leni July 31, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Hm..also sounds like the weird second cousin who shows up to family reunions and so desperately wants to be one of the cool family members but no one really wants them there.

  4. sami July 31, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Ouch! But I totally get it, it’s SO disappointing when you go out for a meal and its not even only-OK. I wonder sometimes if the chefs actually taste the food and if so how do they send it out so average!

  5. Brandon Arvesen July 31, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    Any chef worth their salt could take this criticism to heart and make some good changes. Next time you come to Baltimore check out the Brewer’s Art (eat in the dining room). I work there part time (when I’m not teaching high school in Baltimore), and the food and beer are both amazing. I’d go as far as to invite you to dinner with my wife, but I don’t want to sound creepy.

  6. Sedalle July 31, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    “Meatball Trio: So thick and pasty and [d]ry. Hard to swallow.”

    That’s what she said.

    Boring: [H]alkyon was the ancient Greek name for the kingfisher. They believed that bird built its nest upon the waves, which miraculously remained calm enough not to swamp it. Thus, the modern meaning of halcyon (and the modern sleeping pill’s name). So in a way, it was appropriate that your main course was fowl.

  7. AJ August 1, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    I ate in Charlotte last weekend at Mimosa Grill, which was very good. Did you check out any other restaurants while you were in the city? If you haven’t left Charlotte yet, be sure to hit up Amelie’s tomorrow morning, a french bakery which had LUSCIOUS croissants….Screw the diet!

  8. christopher chavez August 1, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    i love your blog crissy,and try looking at the travel channel blogs about food like “dinners drive ins & dives” or “man vs food” or ” anthony bordens no reservations” cause they always list where thieve been ,i find it works better then asking people ,most people dont know what good food is,,im a foodie so i always watch all the food shows….. and if possible i would like to see some pippa on this blog,thanks!

  9. Michael Smith August 1, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Great review.

    Halcyon is a mythical bird—often identified as a kingfisher—said to breed in a floating nest at sea during the winter solstice, during which time it charms the wind and waves into calm. The term originates from the Greek myth of Alcyone. In popular use, it can also mean to harken back to an earlier time, remembered as idyllic – e.g. “those Halcyon days.”

    I guess you won’t be harkening back to your meal at Halcyon.

    • chrissyteigen August 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      Ha! Well I was way off then. I will never even be able to use the phrase “those Halcyon days”. The name just makes me shudder. Really, it wasn’t terrible. But I was just so sad with the lack of effort when there was clearly a great team behind it. I’d rather it just be a terrible restaurant with terrible food, then it would be MY mistake. This was just…confusing.

  10. muskrat August 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    what a glorious review.

  11. kellymac007 August 1, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    I love that you started a blog. Disgustingly gorgeous and funny too? Not fucking fair, I say!! Random story that has nothing to do w/ your disappointing meal: when I first started dating my husband, he worked in the Cingular (throwback) store by Times Square. We were doing long distance, and he called me one day and said, “Some guy, John something with an L just came in. All the girls were practically fainting and shit.” I almost threw the phone against the wall (like in movies) but didn’t want him to freak the fuck out. I was so jealous, as I’ve always been a huge fan.

    Full circle!

    I’m sure girls all over the world (who run this run this) want to hate you b/c you’re with John, but it’s not humanly possible because you’re so fucking cool. Wow, I sound like a loser. Welp, I’ll go back to eating my Dibs now.

    • chrissyteigen August 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      i love that you read it and I am truly happy I have this place where I can interact with wonderful people like you who share my common interests! Really.

  12. skannr August 2, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    When you’re in Indianapolis, my brother in law is chef of RECESS Restaurants at 49th/College! Over Twitter I invited John Legend when he and Sade’s tour was in the town, clearly you were invited too. Anyways I was in town at the same time visiting fam. I rolled up with my sis and two daughters on the day he was performing and there was a stretched limo in front and I was like JOHN LEGEND AND SADE ARE IN DA HOUSE! My sister was like WTF to me. She didn’t know wut I was talking about, but that’s common. Anyways, the limo wasn’t JL and Sade, but for a second I was like damn that would have been awesome!

  13. Eyvan August 3, 2011 at 5:32 am #

    Im glad you don’t hold your tongue even if it’s a fancy, shamansy “hope I spelled that right” restaurant …..

  14. Jordan November 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    I just moved to Charlotte from Baltimore (I miss Woodberry Kitchen) and had Halcyon on my list until now. If you guys come back check out Customshop or Soul. I think you’ll be pleased! Great blog!

  15. mbeckett5 June 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Damnit! I just started reading your blog – I would have told you to avoid Halcyon! Very mediocre, as you stated. There are so many other wonderful restaurants here. As Jordan recommended, Customshop is fabulous. There are also some good spots a few minutes away from uptown, like Good Food on Montford, the Fig Tree, and George’s Brasserie (they cook their fries in DUCK FAT!). Try one of those next time!

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