You get that there are a few ways to cook a thing right? You can cook with a fire, or you can cook with a grill, or you can cook with an oven, or microwave, or whatever? I guess technically you are always cooking with heat, as that is the definition of cooking, but the way that you use that heat is what counts. Say though you wanted to combine the power of both an oven and a grill to make your nachos, would there way to do that? Well yes, there is. It’s called a Josper Oven, and it’s what Red Heat Tavern uses for their nachos.
Having heard whispers of the skill, artistry, and resultant flavors of a Josper cooked meal, I first checked out Josper’s website, and then had to visit Red Heat Tavern. It was a new establishment that had opened where our once grand and illustrious Outback Steakhouse once stood (RIP Bloomin’ Onion) and had now departed. It was hip, cool, and new, with farm to table whatever and shuffleboard tables and all the things the hip young kids are going crazy for on a busy friday night of swing dances and catching pokemon. You get how this works, I order some nachos and was forewarned by the waitress that the magical JOSPER gives things a BBQish flavor since it’s got some grilled wood involved. If she was trying to turn me off she totally failed as I doubled down by adding pulled pork to the dish, Josper himself be damned! I sat with my culturally questionable “Mad Maori Mai Tai” in suspense for the meal.
When the nachos arrived I was pleased to see that I would be getting my money’s worth. Frequently when you see an order of nachos is going to run you $18, you’re getting something artisanally hipsterery, which is doubly a fear when FARM TO TABLE is written out on the wall. Not here fortunately, it was just a giant tray brimming with the suckers. I knew this was going to be a real three or four meal size order here.
The eternal fear with any order of large nachos is that once you get through the initial “crust” layer of toppings there’s going to be nothing left but dusty dry chips. I was so pleased to find that this was not the case, as after eating through the top layer of chips there was a whole other layer (the mantle) of toppings beneath! This mantle of toppings was cooked to utter perfection through and through, which unfortunately reflected poorly on the top layer.
While the Josper oven may do a great job of getting “the food seared and infused with smoke to create bold flavors that pair perfectly with our craft beers and inventive cocktails”, it also seems to dry things out. As mentioned the center toppings were perfection, but their northernmost cousins could not the same be said of. It wasn’t inedible by any means, but just dry enough that even the wet toppings put on after cooking couldn’t do enough to offset it. When the cheese on top of your nachos looks cooked on to the chips like the cheese on the bottom of most other nachos is to the plate, it’s no good. Cheese on nachos should have adjectives like “gooey”, not ones like “dessicated”. The pulled pork wasn’t totally dry, but it also had none of the good juice you want in a pulled BBQ insert meat choice here. It was very smokey flavored though and through, which was a nice, but not nicer than moistness.
I’m going to roll the dice here and assume there was just some sort of mix up with the high tech Josper oven and that's why the toppings got dried out and not that this is an endemic thing. Saying “Josper” so many times that it loses all meaning and is just goofy to say is much more so. Could there be a few more toppings on the nachos as well? Sure. These are sadly not a perfect order of the dish, but you do get a lot of them, so if that’s more important to you they could be higher in your book. My questionably “Mad Maori” tiki mug was available for $10, so I of course snagged one. Even when these nachos would normally be long forgotten to the mists of time, as they undoubtedly will for being so middle of the road, there will always be that crazy New Zealander to remember them by...