At first it seemed like the only people who would ever hear about Patrick Caldwell's pies were his friends and family. Using a recipe born in North Carolina and passed down from his mother, he'd craft his specialty white-sweet-potato pie for every family gathering. But it was his mother-in-law who gave him the final push to turn his pie-making hobby into a full-time endeavor. Using the family recipe as a blueprint, Patrick began to tweak the formula to make it perfect, aging his white sweet potatoes in a wine cellar for nine months to enhance their natural sweetness and cure them of their fear of the dark. Before long, Patrick's Famous Pies were in high demand at area farmer's markets, where he still sells them today alongside other specialties like sweet-potato bread and peach cobbler.
Fuchsia and blue lights cast cream curtains and plush white couches in the last shades of sunset. DJs reinforce the feeling that a thrilling night is just falling by spinning pulsating electronica. The murmur of conversation drifts from the lounge-like dining area to a sushi bar, where chefs twist together maki with white tuna, snow crab, tobiko, and smoked sea salt. Towering stalks of bamboo sway overhead, as though one has traveled to the east or at least sleepwalked into a panda enclosure.
Executive chef Vanessa Dang follows up her first blockbuster of French-inspired Vietnamese dishes with this intimate sequel promising elegant small-plate options and explosive flavors. The menu pokes sleepy taste buds with shareable small plates such as maple-leaf duck-confit lettuce wraps ($9) and tuna-and-salmon poke with ginger, avocado, mango, and cucumber-and-tomato salsa ($9). Full-sized entrees combine intercontinental palates with mouth-warping orders of cumin-marinated jumbo prawns and garlic noodles ($16) or a rack of lamb marinated with Dijon-mustard peppercorn in a Bing-cherry reduction ($25). Fill out abridged meals with a glass from the saga-worthy, 150-bottle wine list or a sweet-tooth-regaling Fuji-apple-and-coconut egg roll ($8).