The day began with an invitation-only tasting which unveiled several new menu items that Paul's will be offering on a regular basis. During the hour-long tasting that treated members of the press and foodie community to samples of these delicious new offerings, manager Matt Wardrop and his team of chefs graciously prepared tray after tray of these very same items, and had them passed through the gathering crowd outside at no charge. It was a gesture hard to ignore, and one I found spoke volumes in regard to the integrity of Matt and his staff. Of particular note were two servers who made the day even more special for everyone who attended - Holly and Camille. Their warm smiles and genuine manner made every person in attendance feel as if they were there by special invitation.
At noon, Paul's opened their doors to the public and guests were treated to live retro music, while serving up prices reflecting 1989; the year they opened.
I want to start off with the two appetizers we tried; the Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Poppers and Bacon-wrapped Chicken.
The Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Poppers were absolutely delightful. Filled with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon, the jalapenos were prepared perfectly in order to give a delicious, lip-smacking "pop" without being overtly hot. I absolutely see this as a successful addition to Paul's appetizer menu. However, I don't feel the same level of enthusiasm for the Bacon-wrapped Chicken. It wasn't that I disliked the dish, but in truth, compared to the popper and what was to come, I felt they fell somewhat flat and were essentially a non-factor. I'm a firm believer that if an item does nothing to elevate the integrity of a menu, then it is an unnecessary addition. In other words, don't reinvent the wheel.
If there was any sense of mediocrity I gathered from the day's tasting experience, that would be it. I say this because there were two items to come that absolutely knocked our socks off; the Slider and the Bailey's Infused Milk Shake.
Seared and then steamed, they are cooked to a perfect medium, and in terms of simplistic deliciousness, a juicier, tastier burger would be hard to find. While many establishments weave ingredient flavors throughout their creations with the expert precision of a culinary maestro (i.e. Slider Street in Hoboken, NJ), I find many burger restaurants rely on their toppings to offer the consumer the "taste" experience. Not so at Paul's. Here, I found complete and utter enjoyment in the flavor of the plain slider with no adornments. It allowed the quality of beef used to really shine through. My partner, however, found her bliss in the onion and cheese-topped variety. That's okay, variety is the spice of life. However, we did agree that these burgers excelled on all counts and far exceeded our expectations. These sliders are a keeper on Paul's menu.
In addition to these aforementioned delights, there were three sauces we tried and I'd be remiss if I omitted them, for they also deserve comment; Chipotle, Horseradish Mayo and Lemon Garlic sauce - all made in house. This trio of sauces were absolutely a winning combination as well.
All in all, it was a terrific day filled with enjoyable people and delicious food. I can hardly wait until the 50th Anniversary Bash.