I had been to a PawPaw popup before at Bruce & Son restaurant and been completely blown out of the water with the talent and creativity of Taylor and Katelyn Knapp, the husband and wife team behind the concept. So I wasn’t surprised when I was once again blown out of the water by the bi-weekly takeout option they’ve been offering since March out of the Lin Beach House.
They call it the roasted fowl feast, and a feast is certainly the right word for it. I got a portion for one, but it easily fed two people. Each order comes with a roasted chicken or duck (I went with duck), a matzo ball soup, biscuits with honey and butter, two veggie sides that change weekly and a dessert.
I started off with the soup. They kept it simple with a matzo ball, dill and lemon oil and nasturtium, but the star of the show was easily the chicken bone broth. It was lip-smacking. You could taste the umph behind it that comes from the poultry bones. It coats the mouth and feels like it can bring anyone back to life.
“We use the bones from the chickens and ducks and concentrate it down further than what a typical chicken soup would be,” Taylor Knapp, the chef, said in a later phone interview. “It’s a little smoky and it’s really rich.”
Next was the roasted duck, which I chose over the chicken for an extra $10. The bird goes through quite a process before arriving in the takeout box. It’s brined, dried, smoked, spiced and roasted and served with grilled citrus and marigold. Opening the box was a surprise — the flowers and tangerine added such a brightness and colorfulness to the dish which contrasted the deep browning of the bird. It tasted as delicious as it was beautiful. The skin was crispy and mouth watering while the meat was soft and tender.
“We slather it with this chili paste,” Knapp said. “It’s got cumin, chili, garlic and olive oil. And then roasted on this really old rotisserie that’s been at the Lin for many, many years.” When Knapp first started these to-go feasts last March, the rotisserie was broken down, but they invested to have it fixed so it could be used.
After that, I could’ve taken a nap from all that rich deliciousness. But the biscuits drew me in with their craggy, crunchy outsides and pillowy insides. They came with hot honey and butter that I could’ve eaten just on its own.
“The exciting part is that we sprinkle a whole bunch of North Fork Sea Salt on them and serve them alongside Promised Land Apiaries honey, which we turn into hot honey with chipotle and chili and Goodale butter.”
As an extra treat, I also got the foie gras add on, which is all local. “It’s a seared Hudson Valley foie gras on brioche from Blue Duck Bakery with apple butter from Wickham’s and begonia,” Knapp said.
Then, I moved onto the sides — roasted carrots and a potato galette of my dreams. The carrots were still crunchy and topped with cumin, brown butter (my favorite), pumpkin seeds and queso fresco. And the galette was made with duck fat (yes!) and topped with fresh herbs and a dried rose cream. The endless layers of crispy and soft potatoes would have drifted me off into a food coma that I would still be in. But then I would’ve missed dessert!
Welcomed was the light mousse that served as the final course: bittersweet chocolate and sesame mousse with malted milk and popcorn. It was light, yet had so many layers of flavor that without the menu description, I would’ve never placed them. It was the perfect lullaby of a dessert to sing my palette to sleep.
At the end of it all, I was stuffed, but oh so happy — exactly the feeling I wanted. I would order this meal again in a heartbeat. For $45 (or $55 for the duck) per person, I got an ideal takeout date night. Add a bottle of wine and a few episodes of a Netflix show, and I’m good. The kit even comes with a flower and a little tea candle to set the mood.
The PawPaw roasted fowl feast happens twice a month, with dates announced on their Instagram and website. Pickup is Friday and Saturday from the Lin Beach House. The next dates are January 16, February 6 and 13.