There is no denying that a beautifully prepared steak is nothing without its perfect potato counterpart, and at Merrill & Houston’s, we understand that. Considering Wisconsin is the third largest producer of potatoes in the U.S., we know a thing or two about potatoes. Our array of potato choices that are guaranteed to perfectly complement your steak include: daily fresh-made garlic mashed potatoes; perfectly cheesy parmesan au gratin potatoes; golden, crispy french fries; and the classic baked potato that never lets you down. Whatever potato you’re in the mood for, we’ve got you covered.
But what if we told you there’s a different type of potato offered, one so special that it’s only available a few times every month? A potato so delicious, customers visit us for the sole purpose of ordering it with their meal. Not sure which potato we’re talking about? Let us introduce you to our very own Neptune Baked Potato. Not sure exactly what the Neptune potato is? We’ll break it down for you.
Neptune: When you hear the word Neptune, you may think one of two things: the planet Neptune or Neptune, Roman God of the Sea. Which one makes the most sense? Well, NASA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison did successfully manage to grow potatoes in space, but only in Mars-like conditions, so that rules out the possibility of our potatoes being imported from the planet 2.7 billion miles away. By using process of elimination, the Neptune potato must have something to do with the god of the sea.
Baked Potato: When you hear the word “baked potato,” instinctively your mouth should start watering. What more can you ask for than a side dish that has a crispy outer layer with a fluffy interior that melts in your mouth all while delivering a one-of-a-kind flavor. Not to mention the different toppings that you can add, such as butter, bacon, cheese and/or sour cream. And forget about the negative health stereotypes! At only 110 calories per potato, you can assure yourself that you are getting a great source of potassium and vitamin C.
Put two and two together and you get a fish baked potato. In culinary terms, that translates to a twice-baked seafood potato.
Wait… What? Why would someone create such a thing?
The real question is: Why not?
Think about it... The Neptune Baked Potato combines the best of both worlds: seafood and potatoes. Without giving away our secret too much, we took an average baked potato, added the vital ingredients, mixed in lobster, shrimp and scallops, and voila! The Neptune Baked Potato was born. Factor in a juicy ribeye and you’ve got yourself a scrumptious Merrill & Houston’s dinner.
An idea like this doesn’t just happen out of nowhere. It takes a certain sense of creativity and even courage to create something so bold and have it become such a success. So who is the creative mastermind behind the Neptune Baked Potato? Merrill & Houston’s very own sous chef, Valentin Hernandez.
Chef Valentin has over 23 years of culinary experience, three of those having been with Café Belwah and five with Merrill & Houston’s. Since his beginnings, Chef Valentin has challenged himself and those around him to be different with the dishes they prepare. Valentin will tell you, “The kitchen is a place where nothing is too different. There’s always a new dish to be made.” That mentality is what helped create the Neptune potato. His inspiration for this unique dish comes solely from his passion for his craft and his willingness to think outside the box. You can add the Neptune potato to his impressive resume of successful creations, but he always strives to find the next big idea. It’s only a matter of time before we see another crazy addition to Merrill & Houston’s menu.
Although the Neptune potato isn’t available on a full-time basis, it’s worth taking a risk and paying us a visit in order to try the Neptune on the side of your steak.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
By Manny Hernandez