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Proof in the Pudding
“Wow! These matches are really cool!” a friend of mine said as we entered Proof one evening. That was just the beginning. Before Proof opened last year, I wrote a piece for Flyer wondering whether its owner, Mark Kuller, a tax attorney with a dream but no restaurant experience, could make a go of it. He could, and he has. I love this place, and apparently everyone else in town does, too; it’s hard to get in. Kuller put together an A-team for his wine-themed restaurant: Chef Haidar Karoum came from Nora Pouillon’s Asia Nora, sommelier Sebastian Zutant from Komi and Rasika, general manager Michael James from Teatro Goldoni. The vibe of the place is palpable, and the small bar of the 3,800-square-foot space is always packed. The crowd is a blend of staffers, foodies, oenophiles, politicos and sports stars looking for late-night action.
Zutant starts the show with a champagne cart offering top flights by the glass. Proof is the first place in town to use the Enomatic wine system; imported from Italy, the system dispenses 32 wines by the glass in three preprogrammed amounts. Many of the wines come from Kuller’s extensive personal collection, and the list runs the gamut from Spanish Rioja to Chateau Petrus. Let the wine folk make a fuss; it’s the food I rave about. I’ve not had a bad dish here. Wagyu beef sashimi with ginger, soy, lime and warm chili oil is luscious; all the flatbreads, delicate pastry pizzas, are excellent, especially with burrata or ricotta cheese. Sweetbreads sautéed with dates, bacon and spinach has become one of my favorites, but the dish I keep wishing I reordered is the glazed sablefish.
Proof claims to change the menu daily according to seasons, but “adjust” is a more accurate word. So far, my top dishes have been there when I wanted them to be. Save room for dessert. The warm sticky pudding is worth every calorie, despite my cardiologist’s objections. (Hey, I skipped the Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, didn’t I?) It’s no wonder the matches are cool at Proof; you’d half expect sated men to leave the place smiling widely while puffing stogies, if we were still allowed to do such a thing.