Marinated mussels on grilled bread with calico beans didn’t really sound like something I wanted to consume.
But humans in my social-media timelines who had visited Squabble, a new Heights restaurant, couldn’t appear to close up approximately the dish. So I crossed my palms — I have an extended, conflicted relationship with these precise shellfish — and ordered it on a current visit.
It changed into appropriate enough to make my eyes cross. The smooth, meaty mussels have been smooth and sweet, buoyed by the tart soar of marinade, anchored by massive, earthy beans. The chunk and char of the residence-made grilled sourdough made a robust platform simply yielding enough. A scatter of fresh herbs made it all dance.
Yu and Heugel run Better Luck Tomorrow, a bar with a meal factor at the Heights’ southern fringe. But the puckishly named Squabble (an intentional misspelling of “squabble”) is a distinct animal: a restaurant with a bar element and extraordinarily talented co-chefs whose menu famous for a unique partnership. As soon as Yu’s proper hand at Oxheart, Mark Clayton has returned from four years in Portland, Ore., to work with Drew Gemma, the opening baker for Common Bond.
Yu and Heugel may also have joked that they would open “a bread restaurant” right here in the cushy, low-slung space that once housed Southern Goods. But bread and its offshoots weave through Squable’s concise menu as an animating force, now not a gimmick.
Take something as easy-sounding because of the summer season’s heirloom tomatoes with a tonnato sauce. The crimson and yellow tomatoes involved are lush and neighborhood, exactly the kind of substances for which Yu became known on the late Oxheart and the cutting-edge Theodore Rex. They bounce to interest under a flurry of the crackly bread crumbs wherein Gemma specializes, and they sparkle in opposition to deep inexperienced twinges of mint marigold and rosemary.
The kicker is the oceanic undertow of a tonnato sauce shored up with yellowtail scraps from Squable’s impeccable kampachi Crudo. With dishes like this, Clayton and Gemma plumb the deep wells of layered taste in which Yu has long specialized.
Broiled Gulf oysters, for example, get a brothy “chook vinaigrette” you can sip from the shells like some mysteriously opulent oyster liquor, chased by the crunchy sparks of fried fowl pores and skin that skitter over the floor. They are haunting and prefer not anything I’ve ever tasted.
Those half of dozen oysters are one of the few dishes here that work just as properly for a unmarried diner as for two or extra. “Shareable” is quite plenty the operating principle at Squabble, apart from a marvelous “French Cheeseburger” dripping with Raclette, the nutty mountain cheese, and lively rubble of chopped cornichons. (Even the ache de mie bun, made sturdier through Gemma with a harder-than-regular flour, is a marvel in itself.)
I haven’t any purpose of sharing Gimma’s airy Dutch Baby, the high-walled, popover-like pancake cradling a cache of crumbly house-made white cheese and, on the day I ordered it, preserved slivers of calamondin orange out of Clayton’s mother’s lawn. Black pepper and honey supplied backside and pinnacle notes. Instead, Instead, I might want to happily devour this child for supper, dessert, or breakfast if that were a choice.
Local citrus notes made a extraordinary distinction, too, in that kampachi Crudo, the supple yellowtail pricked up with pinpoints of shaved zest fermented kosho style into a peppery paste. Though Squabble patterns its meals “European with American impacts,” there are plenty of the Asian touches that Yu and his brethren remember their modern American birthright.
So a “massive plate” of mesquite-smoked heritage red meat comes tossed with pickled cucumbers, minty shiso leaf, and a so-called “smoky shellfish sofrito” that has greater to do with XO sauce than with something used at the Iberian Peninsula. It’s deep and thrilling, the skinny cuts of beef with a springy texture I observed refreshing.
Even roast chook, a stunning little natural chook hiding gnocchi as crisp as chicharrones, arrives with a feathery salad of chicories in a miso-Parmesan dressing. A little bit European, a bit American, a touch bit Asian.
Summer succotash based on candy corn and green beans ribboned with herbs receives translucent shavings of Parmesan and — here comes the bread issue — punchy “cacio e Pepe” croutons crafted from the house focaccia. Finally, at the bottom of the bowl, linking the elements: a “sauce Espagnol” of tomato and chook inventory.
That focaccia is predictably extraordinary, through the manner — spongy and glazed on its undulant floor, served with an impossible to resist carrot dip sharpened by way of za’atar and zhug, the Yemenite hot inexperienced sauce.