Truffles now open for lunch
By Tara Nelson
The upscale restaurant run by chef Marienes Johnson will be offering a new Texas-style barbeque lunch menu featuring pulled pork sandwiches, beef brisket, bratwurst sausages, barbequed chicken and a range of side dishes including chef Johnson’s version of baked beans and creamed corn.
Paul Kezes, Johnson’s son and restaurant manager, said by creating a limited selection of lunch items, they thought they could offer a more reasonably priced lunch without a long wait time.
“We’re trying to go for more of an everyday style of restaurant, rather than just a special occasion,” he said. “So it’s casual but it’s still gourmet.”
The baked beans ($3/$4) were so delicious, this reporter thought they should be offered as a main course. To make the beans, Johnson said she uses white, black, and kidney beans simmered in a savory tomato sauce with lots of garlic, mild green chilies, onions and carrots. The result is a well-balanced blend of sweet, tangy and savory flavors. The dish comes topped with grated cheddar cheese, chopped onion and cilantro and eats like a soup.
The barbequed chicken sandwich ($5.75) was also quite tasty. Johnson said she cooks the bird rotisserie style with a spice rub that employs cumin, paprika, Chinese five spice, molasses and lemon juice as its dominant flavors. Shredded bits of chicken are placed on a Kaiser bun Johnson buys from a Portuguese bakery in Vancouver and topped by Johnson’s distinctive barbeque sauce, which she makes in half-gallon batches. Johnson said her recipe was inspired by a recent trip to Texas and through her interviews with various chefs there. Johnson, however, said many of the versions she sampled were either too sweet or too heavy on certain spices.
“Some of the Texans use an overpowering amount of cumin or molasses,” she said. “So I balanced all of the spices. It has a certain kick to it but it’s not going to burn your palette.”
Jeff Robinson and Doug Fenton, who were at the restaurant Thursday, said they tried the brisket sandwich ($6.75), made from beef which Johnson smokes in a heavy duty smoker for three hours and then cooks the roast in the oven at a low temperature for several more hours. Both Robinson and Fenton said it was excellent.
Truffles By The Sea’s Texas-style barbeque lunch is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday. They can be reached at 332-2528.