Photos, story by Meg Arbo
Ah, Festivus! The holiday for the rest of us!
Who would have thought that everyone’s favorite Seinfeld episode (OK, top five episodes) would actually generate a holiday? Balboa Supper Club certainly knew it was the way to go and celebrated with a seasonal five course meal.
When Explore last met up with owner Jonathan Kennedy, he described Balboa as only an owner with vision can.
“Imagine walking into a room not knowing anyone and after breaking bread and enjoying a few courses of delicious food, leaving that night with new friends. That is what our supper club experience is like! We believe in the concept of community. We are committed to supporting our local area by creating relationships with our neighboring growers, mongers, and purveyors…. Our Supper Club affords our patrons the opportunity to experience not only the highest-quality ingredients sourced from local farms and translated into creative, artful dishes that stimulate all your senses, but also in becoming a part of a community and practice in which you believe,” he said.
I couldn’t agree more. The night I dined there, there was a group from a local business having their holiday party (a brilliant idea for small businesses) and a woman from the neighborhood who just wanted to see what Balboa was all about seeing as she walked past it daily on East Susquehanna Avenue in Kensington. She said it was the “fork in the window” that sucked her in.
Before our meal began, we were treated to a warm, soothing cup of sassafras bark tea. For that evening only (Balboa is a BYOB) Stateside Vodka was in attendance and provided some handcrafted vodka based libations for a brief time before dinner.
The first course was called a Winter Vegetable Landscape and was, essentially a composed salad. It was quite complex and I loved the balance of flavors and textures. I often find winter vegetables a little lackluster and, frankly, depressing; this dish definitely made me rethink that.
For the second course, we were presented with Balboa’s version of Nashville fried chicken. Though I loved the flavors of the dish, I would have preferred a bit more of the crispy chicken and sauce and a little less of the cornbread.
It’s cold out. What kind of fare do you enjoy eating when it is winter? Short rib lasagna, the third course is pretty much something that I would love to eat all winter long. It was rich, savory and every component was made in house, from the pasta layers to the ricotta. This was, quite possibly, my favorite course. Judging from the empty plates around me, I don’t believe I was alone in that assessment.
We were then presented with a guinea hen remoulade with spaetzle. I must confess that was the first time I have ever had spaetzle that was made by hand and not from Birds Eye. I may have to add “eat more homemade spaetzle” to my 2018 New Year’s resolutions.
No Festivus Feast would be complete without dessert. What a dessert it was! We were served Balboa’s take on a s’more but it was so much more. This decadent treat had chocolate in five forms and was topped with a house made marshmallow topping that truly tasted just like it has been toasted over a campfire. I wanted to weep with joy. Jonathan told me that they were considering making this confection Balboa’s house dessert. Do it, Jonathan! Do it!
Though some of us have an annual Airing of Grievances for Festivus, the dining experience at Balboa would certainly not be one of them. Delicious, thoughtfully and skillfully prepared food along with seamless service and casual ambiance combine for a delightful evening not soon forgotten. Now if only next year they have a Festivus Pole for the Feats of Strength!
Bummed you missed the Festivus Feast? Don’t fret, friends! Jonathan and his team are serving up what will no doubt be a delicious and memorable supper club feast for Valentine’s Day! Check out the menu below.