Company of the Cauldron reopens under Chef Joseph Keller
Chef Joseph Keller who worked with his brother Thomas at the French Laundry and at Per Se has purchased The Company of the Cauldron from long-time owners All and Andrea Kovalencik. Keller also was the chef at the Woodbox on Nantucket some 18 years ago and developed a beloved popover recipe which is now featured at TCotC. Keller was able to keep the same staff and promises to maintain the same style of a single prix fixe meal.
Keller has maintained the single menu per night for a fixed price that had been the policy of the previous owners (their kitchen is probably smaller than yours), but that fixed price has gone up somewhat. We decided to go on Wednesday night, which is always fried chicken and waffles, for $89. Other nights have differing prices depending on the ingredients.
Reservations are a must, since there are little more than 40 seats in the restaurant, and they require a credit card to secure your reservation. And you will be charged if you do not show, or perhaps if you cancel too late. We got an Email reminder Monday when we made the reservation, a text message on Tuesday asking us to confirm, and another text message at 5:30pm Wednesday reminding us of our reservation in 30 minutes. This was starting to get like the old joke about the man who keeps calling to say he is the viper and he will be coming tomorrow, today, in an hour and so forth. It turns out he has come “to vipe your vindows.”
In any case, Chef Keller has put together excellent menus and utterly delicious food coupled with excellent service by his experience staff, several of whom we recognized from the previous regime. The dining room remains elegant, and each table features a candle, a pepper mill, a salt bowl and butter. Some of the dishes are labeled “Josef’s Brasserie.”
We always start by ordering wine to go with the meal, and usually splurge on a whole bottle since there are several courses: popovers, salad, entrée and dessert. There are also half bottles, or you could skip it and drink water or soft drinks.
Every meal at Keller’s Cauldron starts with his famous Woodbox popovers, which were piping hot and delicious and served with Vermont Creamery butter. His popovers are perhaps slightly saltier (and maybe less sweet) than ours are, but they really are exceptional. And turning out 40–50 of them all hot at the same time to deliver to the tables is an excellent trick. We ever were offered seconds.
The second course was a classic Caesar salad with garlic bread croutons, fried capers and parmesan cheese. The fried capers were an unusual twist, being both crunch and capery at once. But the smaller ones were closer to carbony. Still, a nice variation, and the salad was large enough for each of us to take a second helping.
As rumored, the chicken and waffles course was excellent. The fried chicken was six separate pieces of crispy ,boneless chicken, some thighs and some breasts, and all were moist and perfectly cooked. The waffles came with a pitcher of maple syrup, as well as a light dusting of powdered sugar. They also provided delicious buttery mashed potatoes and buttered fresh corn on the cob. The corn seemed a little waterlogged but everything else was outstanding. With six pieces of chicken we had enough to bring home a couple for lunch, and we did.
Finally, the dessert was potted vanilla cheesecake with salted caramel sauce, graham crumble, and Chantilly cream. Utterly delicious.
As you can see, the food is both delicious and in substantial quantities. Others who have come on other nights have also mentioned the large portion sizes.
The meal closed with coffee($8) and tea($4). The coffee was a special Sumatran blend that Keller has created and is only available here and at the French Laundry. You can also buy it for home consumption at The Bean, across the street.
Chef Keller has done an admirable job in creating a new version of a beloved restaurant, and we can hardly wait to come back!