Chef David Santos’s secret suppers, Um Segredo, are the fun of a dinner party (minus the clean-up) combined with the food of a world-class restaurant (not your friend’s thawed lasagna). You follow the signs once you get to Roosevelt Island, hand your wine over to Chef Santos, and settle in at a long table for a night of great conversation, great service, and even greater cooking that all makes for such a good time it’s somehow midnight before you know it. We loved our first time at Um Segredo, but we exclaimed over our second time.
Swinging Summer dinner, $55
Everyone digging in to the homemade bread–called flatbread but actually some of the fluffiest bread around–and “Portuguese butter”, a drippy lard spread that’s heavy on the black pepper and should probably be the only reason you need to attend Um Segredo.
chilled corn soup
Light and fresh but still creamy, almost buttery. So good my friend Anthony couldn’t be bothered with his spoon.
striped bass crudo, tomato vin, candy fennel seeds, pickled red onion
Played with bright and rich with the onion and fennel fronds, slick and crunchy with the bass and the seeds, and sour and sweet with the tomato and the candied fennel. My group of six was split between thinking the fish tasted fishy and thinking it was surprisingly mild, but all of us agreed that it was pleasant, and it managed to maintain a firm texture despite the purposely-thick cuts.
The Cape Cod Headache: dogfish, heirloom potato salad, spicy BBQ sauce, cornbread crumble
Apparently dogfish is taking over Cape Cod and eating everything in sight, especially the tuna. Apparently most people consider it junk fish, and the fishermen want it to die. Apparently we used to sell it to the Brits for mere cents just to get rid of it. This tooooooooootally prejudiced forum thread about eating dogfish has people saying things like, “The Chinese make soup wit the rocks at the bottom of the ocean; they’ll eat anything–dog fish eyeballs, whatever.” My group thought it was like a milder, less-oily catfish. And we couldn’t imagine why people are afraid to eat it.
The menu said squash blossom tortellini, but the squash blossoms couldn’t be procured, so Chef Santos came up with this replacement spur-of-the-moment to no complaints from us. The fried basil was both novel and added a crunch that the otherwise bready fritter needed.
boston baked beans, crispy pork belly, maple foam
This pork belly was every bit as crunchy as it looks. And the foam really did taste like maple. And it sure shouldn’t have complimented the beans, but it sure did.
I joined Chef Santos in the kitchen for a moment to watch him put the finishing touches on the plum dessert. He had this deliiiiicious bay leaf ice cream that he brought back in to us from the kitchen after everyone had finished their scoop and asked if anyone wanted seconds. My roommate, bless his soul, said, “I’m going to embarrass you and ask for more of the crumble.” Knowing how things are in fine dining and that the kitchen doesn’t just have extras of everything sitting around that they can thaw out for any old customer, I hissed, “DO NOT EMBARRASS ME.”
Well, you might notice the half-filled tray of leftover and available crumble in the background of my pictures. Oops.
plum cobbler, brown sugar crumble, bay leaf ice cream
I’m not sure Chef Santos will ever top the warm, soupy chocolate puddingmoussecake he made at the first Um Segredo I went to, but this was pretty outstanding. The fact that this guy is serving up super-high-end, super-inventive savory courses and then ALSO makes dessert never ceases to amaze my friends and me.
And a good time was had by all.