I had absolutely no idea what to expect heading over to Mezcal looking for the Niche Test Kitchen. I was promptly brought back outside and down the street a little bit to a separate entrance with it’s own sign prominently displayed. Oops. The Test Kitchen is in fact, a kitchen with a few tall tables and some stools, but it is also a separate space open to the public for events. And this event was an event unlike anything I’ve been a part of. The chefs butchered a pig from Chimney Hill Farm and created eleven dishes representing each of the 5 restaurants run by the Niche Hospitality Group. Appropriate name, if I may say, because the owner, chefs, and beverage specialists were energetic, cheerful and welcoming. The eleven dishes, plus 2 desserts, were an amazing assortment of flavors and textures that left me so full I could not eat breakfast the next morning.
My favorites were the Banh mi Poutine, the lettuce cups, and the porchetta con pimenton. The Banh Mi Poutine included shredded pork, pickled vegetable, soy mayo, sliced jalapeno, and cilantro. The fries were crisp despite all the toppings, and the mix of sweet and spicy was sublime. I may have returned for seconds. And then I may have grabbed a couple off the plate as they took it away. The lettuce cups were filled with sweet gem, crisp pork belly lardons, bleu cheese dressing, and minced shallot. The creamy dressing surrounding the crisp pork belly created a satisfying textural mix and since the medium was lettuce, felt very light to eat. By the time my last favorite arrived I was very full. I had actually been eyeing the porchetta all night since I noticed it early on in the back. The outside was very crisp, and the inside very tender-expertly cooked. I took some home to eat for lunch the next day, and I did not cut off the fat but ate it while savoring the flavors at my desk. I highly recommend holding your next small gathering at the Niche Test Kitchen. The atmosphere, food, and drinks will create a night of excitement and happiness.