Egyptian Spinach? Sharon Hage finds it, serves it at My Private Chef above-ground underground dinner
Leave it to chef Sharon Hage, once the chef-owner of tiny York Street restaurant, to pluck a green veggie like Egyptian spinach from a bin of Obscure Vegetables We Don’t See in Dallas and make a soup out of it.
Chef and caterer Holly Muller teamed with Hage last weekend to throw a pop-up underground dinner in the swanky dining room of Muller’s Deep Ellum shop, My Private Chef. The first course of the five-course meal that I and thirty others were served Friday night: chicken soup (made from a local bird, of course) with basmati rice and Egyptian spinach, a dark, leafy plant rich in fiber and protein and grown throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia and Australia (where it’s considered a weed).
Hage’s food often thrills; this dinner was no exception. Hage’s mark: forage for unusual ingredients, combine them in interesting ways, then prepare them with a light hand. I’m not sure which was tastier: the red hake on a mound of soft, French lentils and sweet, caramelized onion pilaf, or an earthy porridge of farina over which she draped roasted veal tenderloin. For dessert: panna cotta (made from a base of tangy Greek yogurt rather than neutral cream), anise biscuits, and date and orange blossom truffles.
“We do these kinds of dinners all the time,” Muller told me. “Many of the guests here tonight are regulars.” (You can read the dinner schedule here.)
Arranged at four tables of six to eight diners, the cozy setting, BYOB policy and Hage’s menu attracted a well-heeled crowd of doctors, foodies, corporate executives and restaurateurs (“I wouldn’t miss a chance to eat Sharon’s food,” said Adam Jones, the owner of Fort Worth’s Grace restaurant, who trekked over from the West with his wife, Caroline).
While Hage has no immediate plans to open her own place, it’s nice to see that she’s still cooking, foraging and every bit as inventive as ever.