Last week the folks at The Handle Bar invited us over for dinner. With chef Michael Mina in town for the restaurant’s opening, we had some very important questions for him. Specifically, we wanted him to guide us through a few menu choices.
Dishing: Tell us about Michael’s Mother’s Falafel burger.
Mina: It’s her recipe. I grew up on it, and it’s still the one dish I fly home to have. When I started a long time ago with Bourbon Steak, I was looking for a vegetarian option. I didn’t want a typical vegetarian burger. So I thought, ‘You know what, I will just make my mom’s.’ I am obsessed with falafel burgers, and this one is a really good one.
Dishing: It’s the middle of the ski day, and you’re starving. But you don’t want to eat too much so you can keep skiing the rest of the day. What do you choose?
Mina: The chicken shawarma (grilled chicken shawarma or falafel lavosh wrap, hummus and tahini). It’s very satisfying, but it won’t slow you down.
Dishing: Okay, so now its time for apres and you’re really starving. What do you choose?
Mina: The shrimp fideos. What you get is salt-grilled shrimp with fideo pasta. It’s got aioli stirred in it. And it’s really rich.
Dishing: So say you’re really hungover. Then what do you pick?
Mina: Like today? Then I would order the pork green chili with corn tortillas. I need a little spice when I rage. And I need something I can eat with a spoon.
Dishing: What’s your best date dish?
Mina: I would say the phyllo crusted cod. It’s kind of a play on fish and chips, but the phyllo crust is very elegant but really approachable.
Dishing: And your best date dessert?
Mina: It’s not on the menu yet, but it will be. I love taking classic things and making them elevated, and this one is fun. It’s a cookie dough souffle with ice milk.
Dishing: Strangest ingredient combination on the menu?
Mina: It’s the crunchy peanut butter and bacon jam burger with pimento cheese. When I look at food, I’m always looking at it as balancing acid, fat, sweet and spice. And so I look at this as the peanut butter balancing the acidity and spice from the cheese. It’s more about the peanut butter. And at the end of the day, that is a fat. It’s a very rich burger, one that will definitely clobber you.
The Handle Bar is located in Four Season Jackson Hole. It’s open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. (or until the party stops.