Spring Into A New Menu
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Ever heard of a ghost pepper? Neither had I, until I sat down with Corporate Chef Ed Gorski at O’Tooles in Waterford. Gorski, along with Ben Horner (co-owner of the Waterford location), recently created a new menu for all three O’Tooles locations, which also includes Royal Oak and Farmington Hills. The idea behind the menu was to present a homogenous menu, creating more of a corporate feel with multi-unit branding. Unlike most corporate chains, however, O’Tooles makes everything from scratch, creating menu items that stand apart from average bar fare.
Take, for example, their pizzas: “You can throw a stone and hit 10 places that serve pizza that’s just dough, red sauce, cheese,” says Gorski, “and we could have done that too — and made it great — but we wanted to make a pizza for people looking for something a little different.” The crust is ultra-thin without being dry or "cracker-y" (a feat in itself), and there is no red sauce used — instead, it is a creamy herbed Boursin sauce, almost like an Alfredo.
The lobster mac & cheese is another item you won’t typically find at a bar like this. Big chunks of langoustine lobster are submerged in homemade lobster béchamel sauce and topped with melted cheddar. This best-selling dish is not to be taken lightly — and the sides reflect this. It's plated with a light, summery spring mix citrus salad with house-made white balsamic citrus dressing, a refreshing contrast to the richness of the sauce.
The full slab of their baby back ribs (available also in a “double slab”) is slathered in their sweet, tangy, award-winning BBQ sauce. These ribs are slow-cooked to perfection, so tender the meat literally falls off the bone. There’s no gristle or knuckles left over when you’re done — just a big pile of clean bones.
Now let’s get back to that ghost pepper. Known properly as the “bhut jolokia” pepper, native to northeastern India, it is the Guinness World Record holder for the hottest pepper in the world, two to three times as hot as the habañero. This thing is so hot that India’s Ministry of Defense has weaponized it as a non-lethal use of force against terrorists and rioters. There are precisely three places in the world that use this pepper to make a hot sauce: one is in Hungary, another is in New Jersey ... and the third is here at O’Tooles.
I won’t lie to you. I only tasted a trace amount, just grazing the tip of my finger over a toothpick that had been dipped in this ghost pepper sauce. A little goes a long way, boy … that burn lingered for hours. But it also had a great flavor, which you’ll be lucky to taste through the pain. Gorski has only seen three people in his life who could eat this sauce in large quantities, and they were all women.
Lucky for you, they won’t be using the ghost pepper sauce in their upcoming wing eating contest (preliminary rounds are every Monday at 9 p.m., at all locations through May 3; winners receive a 40’’ HDTV); they’ve also got great drink specials and live entertainment at each location. Oh, and the patio at the Cass Lake spot is a great place to chill during the summertime. (Warning: jumping in the lake will not help ease the pain of the ghost pepper.) | RDW
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