By the way, sorry if pictures aren't up to Annie Leibovits par, but I'm still a young working gal, so I'm still saving up for that gorgeous $600 camera everyone else seems to have but me. And to my defense, the lighting was absolutely horrible, as in most all fine dining experiences where dimmed romantic lighting seems necessary (what a crappy excuse). Hopefully these will do...
The Appetizers: The first was served in an extremely large Bento Box and consisted of sizzling shrimp on a hot stone, barbecued short ribs, chicken skewered on sugarcane, and more. I would like to delve into the details but I had this dish in '06 (still available now though) and though memorable, I guess not quite memorable enough. Though to its defense, it was extremely easy on the eyes.
1. Tuna Handrolls: So velvet-y I almost cried.
2. Pheasant filled Dolmas (Grape Leaves): Being a large fan of dolmas, I was pleased but a little underwhelmed, since I was holding large expectations.
3. Potato Lakes topped with Salmon Roe: Crispy and salty, conclusion: good.
4. Fried Oysters with Buttermilk Ranch: Still gooey and warm on the inside, not the best though.
5. Mini Tacos: So tiny that I underestimated their taste, but to my surprise, they were better than expected.
6. Beef Spring Rolls: THE best on the entire plate, so incredibly tasty and refreshing.
7. Lobster Slaw on Lobster Jelly: personally I thought it was on the verge of disgusting, me and a couple others. But again, that's just my opinion...
Lamb on top of butternut squash ravioli and roasted vegetables. I used to hate lamb because of that game-y aftertaste that always accompanied it. But an intervention was necessary, and this lamb was prepared perfectly, with absolutely no aftertaste! The ravioli was slightly sweet, which went well with the salty lamb. You could tell the pasta was handmade and it was perfectly chewy while still giving enough bite back.
Grilled atlantic salmon on top of a lobster and clam chowder with fennel. I'm not a fan of mis-naming things. So when I expected a thick and hearty chowder and got a broth-y sauce instead, I was semi-disappointed. But after giving it another chance, I was glad I had not completely given up. The salmon was perfectly undercooked, because overcooked salmon is vile. But looking back, "chowder" chowder would have probably completely overkilled the delicate salmon and its counterpart of fennel brothy-ness made a perfect couple.
This dish was part of the "Vinter's Table," which is the chef's personal tasting menu. It was a filet mignon served with a cranberry sauce. First of all, never in my life have I ever tasted something so perfect. It cut with the slightest of ease and the taste...oh the taste! It melted in my mouth like butter, and that's NOT a comparison, that's truth. It was brought into the highest stage of perfection by the cranberry sauce. You would have expected something tart or jelly-like but instead you are surprised by a thick syrup-y sweet accompaniment.
My personal dish was roasted pheasant accompanied by fingerling potatoes, stuffed cabbage, heirloom carrots, and applewood smoked bacon. Even the carrots, a mere garnish to the dish, were exquisitely cooked. The pheasant was moist and not at all overdone. But my favorite part of the dish was suprisingly not the pheasant but the stuffed cabbage. It was filled with a fennel, onion, and bacon mix which was a great addition to the overall theme of the dish.
I also tried the Napa Side of Skillet Roasted Potatoes with Blue Cheddar, Bacon, and Onions. It was kind of like a combination of scalloped and au gratin potatoes, with the best aspects of both. It was full of incredible flavor and I somehow managed to squeeze it into an already large dinner. What can you do when your inner fatty craves it?
Dessert Menu '08
Dessert from '06: A pound cake french toast served on top of raspberry and vanilla sauce. This was the best dessert I have ever had. Warm and crispy on the outside, but completely buttery on the inside. Perfectly rich but not overwhelmingly so.
So for dessert, I opted for the hazelnut creme filled doughnuts with "the best hot chocolate ever." I was extremely disappointed when I was greeted with a doughnut the size of a golf ball and even more so when the hazelnut component seemed to be completely lost. It was a sugary dough, nothing new and nothing special. But, redemption came in the form of its accompaniment, the hot chocolate. It's chocolate to milk ratio was out of this world which made it creamy and dense without over-killing the chocolate flavor.
I had other desserts but the pictures turned out to be crap. The other desserts consisted of:
1. Tangerine Creme Brulee with Grand Marnier Chantilly Cream: the creme was perfectly smooth and it was brulee-d all around. The more the brulee, the better the brulee - at least that's what I always say. The tangerine flavor was quiet but still there, just a perfect little hint.
2. Wine Country Apple Croustada with Walnut Ice Cream and Cider Caramel: definitely the best of its type. The apples were moist and topped with a chunky and crunchy crumble topping. Walnut ice cream...umm YES please? What more can be said about that?
3. Napa "Pick Me Up" Valrhona Chocolate-Espresso Mousse Cake with Bailey's Irish Coffee "Pot au Creme": If you are a coffee connoisseur, this is definitely for you. It definitely picks you up and in a good way at that. The Bailey's creme was gorgeously smooth, almost as if you had licked a baby's bottom itself. If that doesn't explain it well, you clearly don't know how to use your imagination.