Friday Food Porn: In the Night Kitchen

Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"It is strange to see a restaurant open at three in the morning. I don't care where you've lived, what you've seen, or the level of your insomnia, there is just something in the human psyche--some conditioned reflex, pure as circadian rhythms--which revolts slightly at the wrong-side-of-the-clock sense of light puddled on a dark sidewalk, bodies behind glass at rest and in motion, and the hot neon of an OPEN sign at an hour when most such noble gases are cold.

Diners are different, as are certain coffee shops and bars which have a somewhat flexible relationship with legal and temporal dynamics. There are expectations, in any civilized quarter of the world, that those with broken internal wristwatches might still score bourbon, pancakes, or a scorched, tarry drip without too much difficulty in hours when only cats, killers, and working girls are supposed to be up."

From "Vampire Weekend," this week's review of The Night Kitchen. You can check out the full review in the Restaurants section of (or in the actual paper), and see the full slideshow, courtesy of Joshua Huston, right here.

Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"I ate my cheese curds at midnight on a Sunday--dead in the middle of my Saturday night--and they were so blissfully simple, dumb, and perfect that I ate a second helping at about 12:15 just because I was so pleased with the way the small order of beer- battered, crisp, melty and golden-brown curds had come out the first time around. They arrived, with no sauce (needing none) or garnish beyond a cursory sprinkling of chopped parsley, in a white soufflé dish on a white plate, and were exactly what I wanted (fried anything, delivered hot, after drinks elsewhere and an argument of pointless severity with a friend), like guilty desires read with laser precision. Hot cheese and cold beer (Old Scratch, off a list filled with American craft brews) at midnight--the only thing that could've made it better would've been if the banh mi at the bottom of the curled, water-stained, and roughly-used paper menu hadn't been made with seitan."

Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"I liked the beef for two reasons. One, it was done precisely to temp (mid-rare) by a cook who obviously knew how to prepare meat like most of us know how to breathe. Two, it was an uncommon, underutilized cut: the teres major, a shoulder muscle close to the bone that's tender as a loin but flavorful like a chop. To take an unpopular cut and make something delicious of it is the highest, most noble calling of a cook with blood under his or her nails. To do it without fanfare, in a place where maybe it wouldn't be so readily noticed, shows a humility that's incredibly attractive. Honest to God, just finding a grillardin these days who knows how to hit mid-rare without slicing and fanning his beef like a first-year culinary student can sometimes seem like running across that smoke-bumming unicorn now busking for change outside the market, tap-dancing and doing tricks for candy corn.

What's more, the steak frites wasn't the galley's only good trick. The mac and cheese was made with New Moon and Valdéon blue and bacon, and could be gotten with a side of grilled asparagus, long mac and cheese's best, most faithful friend."

Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"When one finds oneself, on a Wednesday morning at 2 a.m., ingesting shots and scrambled eggs, it's either a sign of things gone terribly wrong or a life sliding in a decidedly Jim Thompson kind of direction. I like Jim Thompson a lot. And it warms a dark and private corner of my heart to know there's a place I can get precisely that without being judged by anyone but those in similar straits.

It's last call, Wednesday morning. The bar is settled by scruffy guys in hats, inventing drinks with the bartender and plugging their phones into the stereo to blast shit-kicker country and rap through the small front room. The front door opens. The front door closes. A guy walks in fresh off the line at some other restaurant. Another staggers, drunk and weaving, for the bathroom. Then a server, still in her blacks and apron, comes in from the hotel bar down the street.

She dips her shoulder and looks around. "You still serving?" she asks, wondering what, exactly, the deal is."

Read the full review of The Night Kitchen right here. And for more snaps of the after-dark action from Joshua Huston, check out the complete Food Porn slideshow at

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