Gallery: Behind the Scenes: Menu Tasting with Jose Garces and Cory Morris at Mercat a la Planxa

Rabo de Toro
Rabo de Toro

Oxtail ravioli with goat cheese, brandied cherry, black Burgundy truffle

"He wants to replace a rabbit agnolotti with chestnut purée," Garces explains. "But that's a signature dish." Garces decides that this one won't make the cut. "While this is good it always has to be better than what you're taking off the menu."

Later, Morris convinces Garces to think about including both dishes on the menu in a new pasta section. "Maybe we can go back to having a pasta section since the fish section is so light now?" Morris asks. "And we can change the cherries to currants so it doesn't sound the same as the agnolotti."

"We'll look at the menu again and figure it out," Garces says. "The filling could have been a little hotter, temperature-wise, too."

Coles de Brussales
Coles de Brussales

Charred brussels sprouts, Iberico pancetta vinaigrette, hazelnuts, Spanish feta, pickled guindillas

"These are great," Garces says. "Very seasonal. I like the char on it and I love the textural elements he has in there."

Cazuela de Puerco
Cazuela de Puerco

Braised pork belly, white beans, Serrano broth, celery root, grilled baguette

"This pork is really good," Garces says. "Very savory sauce and I liked the presentation on it. The beans, the tableside pour, it was all working for me. We have a lot of bread in the service already, so I don't know if you need it necessarily, but maybe you can give it another textural element?"

Mercat has had pork belly on the menu for a long time though, so Morris and Garces discuss switching up the cut of meat. Morris will try a similar dish with presa, a tender shoulder loin cut, in the next couple of days to compare them side by side.

Zanahorias amb Xató
Zanahorias amb Xató

Cider glazed carrots, tarragon xató, mascarpone

"Who's the cheese lover here?" Garces asks when Morris and his sous chef approach the table. "The vegetable dishes were highlights for me, but I think they get a little repetitive with the cheeses and creams."

Ultimately, Garces decides that these carrots will replace either a morel or farro dish on the menu. "I'm most impressed with Cory's vegetable dishes," Garces says. "He's really been working on them and the past couple of tastings have been stellar."

Quinoa amb Calabaza
Quinoa amb Calabaza

Quinoa with roasted squash, toasted pumpkin seed, crispy brussels sprouts, coriander crème fraîche

"In a lot of ways, Cory's vegetarian dishes are more exciting than a protein-laced dish," Garces says. "It's unexpected and it's good. I don't know that we need the crème fraîche, but I love the squash and fried brussels sprout leaves. We can simplify this a bit and it will be fine."

Coliflor
Coliflor

Roasted cauliflower with pickled mustard seeds, golden raisin, paprika bread crumbs, goat cheese

"This is very hearty and well-executed," Garces says. "But I'm seeing cheese kind of everywhere. It works, but if a table orders all of these vegetable dishes, it's going to be too similar."

Guatilles i Polenta
Guatilles i Polenta

Molasses and black garlic-glazed quail with polenta, kale, pomegranate

"Quail is a tough sell," Garces says, so he's even more critical of the flavors. "I'm not getting a lot of black garlic flavor, more just vinegar. It doesn't stand out enough for me. We'll talk about it and this will be a true collaboration that we'll do over the next couple of days. Most everything else he's presented me will just be a tweak. I just don't think quail is a seller so we'll talk about a different protein, maybe with some elements from this."

Salmó Escalfat amb Taronja
Salmó Escalfat amb Taronja

Saffron poached Skuna Bay salmon, fennel, orange, pistachio, smoked roe

Morris presented this dish to replace a halibut on the menu and wondered if he should plate the salad and fish all together, but Garces liked the current look of the dish. "I think it presents nicely," Garces says. "But to me it lacked a little flavor. It needs something to infuse a little more flavor in it. I'll work with you on it."