Husk serves southern food made with local ingredients– a concept with which, you, I am sure are familiar, but not the way executive chef Sean Brock does it. The menu changes regularly reflecting the seasons and produce availability (again, nothing new) and practically every item includes it’s components place of origin. You won’t be bored to find southern-fried chicken or fried green tomatoes on this menu like you will on so many others that claim to specialize in southern cuisine. Husk’s menu is far more original as it pulls recipes and inspiration from your great-grandmother’s table and seasons it with a hip perspective.
At first glance, the February 24 lunch menu made my deep-pit-of-the-stomach hunger only more intense. It was difficult to choose between the fried (homemade) bread and butter pickles with tarragon cream, pork rillette with pain de mie, pear butter and other accompaniments and Caper’s Inlet Blade Oysters with Husk muscadine vinegar and shaved fennel to start but my love of bivalves won me over.
The fine people at Husk (almost) understand when you start with a superlative product you don’t need to gussy it up with fussy, competing flavors. The oysters, plump and pruriently juicy, slid nonchalantly from their pearlescent shell slides urged into my mouth by the accompanying muscadine vinegar, a nice foil to the oysters’ refreshing oceanic saltiness. To that end, the shaved fennel must have been an afterthought. The texture of a raw oyster should not be meddled with. Even the subtle crunch of a small, translucent piece of shaved fennel detracts from the fabulous softness of a raw oyster. Luckily, the fennel was easy enough to remove.
For my second course, I selected the salad of Kurios Farm butter lettuces with shaved turnips and watermelon radishes tossed in a peanut vinaigrette. The salad was phenomenal. For the first time I understood why this type of lettuce includes butter in its name: from the moment my knife touched the spring green leaves they almost tore themselves as they were so tender. The beautiful pink of the watermelon radishes and the sharpness of the turnips provided visual interest and a palatable balance to the butter lettuce and the peanut vinaigrette. My one and only complaint is that a salad of this size was $10. The flavors were exceptional but the price was unacceptable.
Would I return to Husk? I suppose I will. In retrospect my biggest issue with the restaurant was it’s pricing and not its offerings. To that end, if there’s a long line at Husk, you won’t find me in it.