When you’re the former executive chef of renowned Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, you don’t make a steamed bun with pork belly like everyone else.
No, the fluffy clam-shell bun that Chef Michael Rotondo now does at Parallel 37 in San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel comes stuffed with a crispy chicken foot instead.
One that is impossibly, improbably but absolutely devoid of all bone and cartilage.
If you’ve ever gnawed on a chicken foot at a dim sum restaurant, you know just how many bones that small appendage contains. So, it’s quite an astonishing, er, feat to remove them all, while still retaining the shape of the feet.
But at Parallel 37, Rotondo does just that, assigning a team of two chefs to create this playful dish that requires steaming the chicken feet, then carefully taking tweezers to them.
All for one dish that can be eaten in two bites.
Since taking over as chef de cuisine from Ron Siegel who departed to head the kitchen at Michael Mina in San Francisco, Rotondo has put his own spin on the menu, creating dishes that seem familiar in name or taste, but are actually reborn anew.
Written in the style that’s all the rage now, the menu ($14 to $32) at Parallel 37 is divided into “Vegetable,” “Fish” and “Meat,” with a few ingredients listed for each dish, but no clues as to how it’s prepared. For instance, there’s a dish of “octopus — smoked sunchoke, breakfast radish ($21).”
There’s also a chef’s tasting menu option of eight market-inspired courses for $135 per person.
This style of dining invites you to sit back, be adventurous and put your trust in Rotondo’s hands. Which is exactly what I did earlier this month, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.