Fall is here, and Chef Jeff Bolton of Second Home Kitchen + Bar has some tasty new offerings to warm you up. Order the purple potato poutine if you’ve got a table of four or more who all love poutine, or a table of two or less who have no concern for their health. Second Home’s entrees mean serious business, and light eaters may find they’ve no room left after consuming this orgy of cheese, potato, and duck gravy. Unlike most poutines, this one comes with two kinds of cheese. Cheese curds melt into the fries and gravy, as usual, but Bolton’s poutine also has a Parmigiano sauce that coats the whole dish. Does poutine need more cheese, you ask? Probably not, but this skillet will try to change your mind.
If you’re looking for something lighter, get the gnocchi. This dish shows that Bolton is capable of keeping it simple, and simple is good. Sometimes simple is really good. At the same price as the poutine, this dish features a handful of gnocchi on red sauce, with cippolini onions, calabrese peppers and little bits of pancetta. I recommend it because so many of Second Home’s entrees are quite substantial. Sometimes all you need to start are a few gnocchi in tomato sauce with just the right amount of heat, and a few delicate shavings of Parmigiano on top. We also tried the white bean and tomato stew, with kale, escarole and Italian sausage. The soup was amazing by itself, but Bolton doesn’t forget the little things, like a cast iron pan full of warm, fresh corn bread to go with it.
At this point you’re going to need some drinks. I am not a cocktail guy and yet they won me over. House infused cranberry orange vodka, with lime, Grand Marnier and… roasted Anaheim chile?? Yes, that’s right, and it actually tastes great. When you taste it. you’ll get just a hint of vegetal roasted chile flavor on the nose, followed by smooth citrus notes and a slightly bitter finish, like marmalade. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Or if you’re a gin fan, try this: Tanqueray, ginger infused simple syrup, basil, lime, prosecco and something else that might surprise and please you. I’ll let you try it and see if you can guess.
For the main event, choose carefully. We got to sample the braised bison shortrib with parsnip mash, garlic seared kale and whole grain mustard demi glace. This is a prehistoric hunk of meat, glistening with sauce, towering over the veg on the plate like the Rockies over the plains. That being said, be prepared for a whole lot of the same thing. If you loved grandma’s roast, you’re going to love this dish. Not a fan of rich, moist meat that pulls apart on your fork? Get something else. Second Home has many options for those who are a little less red meat inclined, like their seasonal offering of diver scallops with braised rapini, sweet potato hash, capers, red wine golden raisins and lemon butter. Light, flavorful and expertly balanced, this might not be what you expect from Second Home. You shouldn’t be surprised, though Second Home is certainly the place to go for perfect cuts of red meat, Chef Bolton always has a few things on the menu for the less carnivorous folks.
Dessert is going to be just as homey/classy as everything else. Pudding fans will enjoy Bolton’s chocolate bread pudding with brownie gelato. That’s right, sweet brownie on pudding action, topped with chocolate covered espresso beans that give it some kick. Possibly too sweet for some. Or go classy with the pumpkin cheesecake, topped with candied pumpkin seeds and caramel sauce. Now this is a romantic dessert: smooth, creamy, a few simple ingredients artfully combined. Get it with coffee and enjoy it slowly, on the outdoor fireside patio, if you’ve got any room left. If not, come back and get it next time. You can always go to your Second Home.
Geoff Phillips is the Food & Booze desk editor for 303 Magazine. A compulsive foodie, he's constantly on the lookout for offerings that are new, fresh and reasonably priced. If he's not at the farmer's market he's probably browsing recipes.