Proof and Provision, the new basement hot spot in the Georgian Terrace Hotel, opened softly Friday. Eater checked in with P&P Executive Chef Zeb Stevenson for the details on this "come as you are" bar, including the thought process behind putting chicken liver mousse on the menu.
What was your inspiration for the P&P menu?
The original seed was planted a few years back when my wife and I were vacationing in Barcelona. We ate at Inopia (which is now inexplicably closed) and had a really amazing and memorable time. What struck me the most about the experience was that the offerings were not any different from what you could find at any tapas joint in the city, the difference was in the commitment to quality of ingredients and technique. I became very inspired by the thought of crafting an American version of this no-nonsense (or perhaps pretense would be a better word) food where I could put the emphasis wholly on quality, give the ego a rest and derive satisfaction from making people happy.
Some of the menu items are quite unique for a bar. How did you decide what to offer?
I decided to ignore the rules as much as possible and to let the menu originate from foods that I feel connected to. I’ve left pieces of myself all over this menu from homages to my mentors, to a roast beef sandwich in honor of my wife and a sandwich that helps me relive breakfast in the English countryside. I wanted to offer a menu that’s driven by personality and not formula.
Livingston has a popular after-a-show-at-The-Fox bar, as do Publik and Baraonda. Why would we need yet another bar in this area?
Each of those establishments is different from the others and fits its own niche. Proof and Provision does the same thing. We let the space itself be our guide in concept and design. What we arrived at was a smart, fun neighborhood bar that serves not only the needs of the hotel and the volume of the Fox, but also the desire of those who live close by to have a “come as you are” place to hang out.
What's the inspiration behind the drinks?
Nate Shuman is a passionate and devilishly creative mixologist. He and I have similar creative processes and a real synergy. He crafts cocktails from a place that emphasizes balance, texture and aroma. His excitement is palpable and contagious.
How does your food pair with the drinks?
We’ve tasted each item we’ve broken down its characteristics and played a kind of “point: counterpoint” with each. If an item is rich in fat, high in umami and mellow in aromatics like “chef Z’s Grilled Cheese” we look for ways to both highlight and counter all of those qualities without dominating or disguising. It’s challenging, but it keeps the dialogue open and really reinforces the staff’s knowledge of the offerings.