Spiced Pork Spread From Niche Test Kitchen in Worcester

Hidden in plain sight, right next to Mezcal, on the ground floor of a parking garage in Worcester is Niche Hospitality Group’s newest culinary destination, The Test Kitchen. This will be a place for the chefs to experiment with new or updated recipes and interact with the diners. It’s also a great chance for the patrons to interact with the chefs and ask them questions and give feedback, and they honestly want your honest feedback.

The chefs at Niche laid out a 6 course tasting menu for us titled Nose to Tail, with all the tastings, except for dessert, involving pork of some kind. This menu was absolutely delicious and featured something for pretty much everyone.

Pork Bratwurst with pickled vegetable relish: The bratwurst itself was fantastic. Firm and very flavorful with great texture. The pickled vegetable relish’s slightly acidic slant really worked well with the meat giving an overall pop of flavor that was excellent. The roll was soft and subtle, letting the meat take control.

Spiced Pork Spread: Pork pâté served with toasted baguette, pickled mustard seed and a couple local cheeses (goat and gouda). Served chilled, this reminded me more of a terrine than a pâté. The crisp, toasted bread was a great counterpoint to the soft, creamy pork, generating a great mix of textures and a pretty intense flavor. A little of this goes a long way, it’s packed with taste, but not overpowering when taken with the bread. The soft creamy goat cheese also provided a punch of flavor and held up very well with the pork providing an overall great taste.

Banh Mi Poutine: French fries with shredded port, pickled vegetables, soy mayo, sliced fresh jalapeño and cilantro. For this being a french fry plate, this was not heavy at all. The picked veggies and jalapeño gave this dish a great bite and refreshing feel rather than the dense heavy look it had. The rich taste of the pork was softened by the crisp pickled vegetables with the jalapeño giving this a decent amount of heat without being overpowering. Overall, this was a terrific mix of flavors and a great dish that should be on a menu somewhere.

Oaxacan Chorizo Tacos: Crumbled pork chorizo with a saffron corn salsa, creamy adobo sauce, fresh radish and cilantro, served on a housemade corn tortilla. Another great mix of textures and flavors. The chorizo was strong and flavorful and the adobo sauce complemented the chorizo perfectly, creating a delicious overall flavor. The cold corn salsa played against the hot meat perfectly and together this was a fantastic taco, both exploding with flavor while not being too heavy.

Sopecitos de Carnitas: Mini masa sopes topped with pork, avacado salsa, black beans, habanero oil and cotija cheese. This dish was yet another fantastic marriage of textures and flavors. The sope’s soft texture and mild flavor balanced the strong, smoky pork and sauce perfectly. Each solo was very good, but together both parts are elevated, making a truly excellent dish.

Porchetta con Pimenton: Slow roasted porchetta with pickled onions, shaved carrot salad and crushed marcona. My favorite dish of the evening. The skin was crunchy and exploding with flavor while the meat itself was juicy, tender and delicious. Each and every bite of this was a wonderful experience. This was so packed with flavor and so rich, I couldn’t eat a ton, but what I did was truly wonderful.