Table Talk: Meghan Thompson of SRV
Welcome to Table Talk, a series where we get to know your favorite local food industry professionals.
At SRV in the South End, Italian is what’s for dinner. The cuisine is echoed in plates of pasta on the bacaro’s dinner menu, as well as the bombolone and polenta available for brunch. Thumb over to the dessert list, and that same Venetian flare can be found in portions of olive oil cake and decadent tiramisu. Those treats are the work of pastry chef Meghan Thompson, who after polishing her craft at spots like Steel & Rye and Townsman, is now spinning dolci at one of the city’s best restaurants. The next time a hankering for dessert hits mid-meal, consider saving room for some gelati or chocolate. Thompson will make sure there’s something seasonal and sweet on deck.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite ingredient?
My current favorite is called Irish moss. It’s a really old-school ingredient that’s used a lot of times on islands: Kind of like how farmers used to drink home-brewed saisons after a long day at work, a lot of islanders will take Irish moss and blend it into an after-work smoothie, with coconut, pineapple, and other tropical fruits they have around. And usually mix it with rum. So I’ve been playing around with that, and using it in place of gelatin. It gives panna cotta this beautiful texture: that sort of velvety, melts-in-your-mouth feel.
What kitchen tool have you worn out at the restaurant?
I use a mixer every single day. Palette knives are one of my favorite tools, too, that I’m constantly using to spread stuff out.
What music do you rock in the kitchen?
Any type of reggae. I like chill music: If you’ve had a hectic day, it will keep you level. There’s definitely a necessary evil in having the right music that fits your mood. For some people, I’m sure reggae is too chill, but I keep a good pace with it.
What’s your favorite local spot to eat at, other than your own?
I’m always a sucker for Coppa, especially in the summertime with the patio. On a day off, I can bring my dog out with me, which is pretty clutch. Picco, too: I’m always up for a glass of wine, some pizza, beer, and ice cream. Pretty much anywhere in the South End—I live in Brighton, but even before I started working [at SRV], I’d always go there on my days off.
If you could collaborate with anyone locally, who would you want to work with?
One of my favorite people is Brian Mercury [of Oak + Rowan]. He’s a good buddy and is super talented, and we both approach things very differently, so it’d be cool to work with him on the pastry end. Same with Jacqueline Dole [of Parlor Ice Cream Co.]. I’m super jealous of her: I love making ice cream, and she’s younger than me, so I admire her for finding a niche among all these [local] talented chefs.
There are so many savory chefs I’d love to collaborate with, or at least work with one-on-one. I get excited about all the new vegetables that are starting to pop up now, and how I can incorporate those into my dessert menu without totally scaring people away.
What’s the most memorable meal you’ve had?
I was in Peru between jobs, and I went to this Japanese place that uses a lot of Peruvian influences. My boyfriend and I did this tasting menu there, and it was the most ridiculous meal I’ve had in my life. I’ve been lucky enough to go to New York, travel, and try some really good food, but [this place] was silly good. We still talk about it.
As a pastry chef, what’s your favorite dessert?
Probably ice cream. This actually bothers some people, but I don’t really have a sweet tooth at all; I just don’t crave sweets. But I do always love ice cream. I usually go for flavors that [are] tropical; like, a butterscotch [flavor] would be too much for me.
When did you decide to wanted to delve into pastry world, despite not having a sweet tooth?
With cooking, you have to layer flavors, and cook with a certain technique, to make it really good. But for pastries, it’s a little more on the exact science side. If something doesn’t come out right, or it comes out different every time, there’s a reason behind it. That intrigues me about it.
If you could grab coffee with anyone, who would it be?
Robert Plant. I’ve been obsessed with Led Zeppelin since I was a kid. I don’t know [enough] about him personally to think we would bond on some other level, but it would be cool to get into the mind of what they were doing at that time. Besides a lot of drugs, probably [laughs].
569 Columbus Ave., South End, Boston, 617-536-9500, srvboston.com.