Tag Archives: review

Photo Visit – Forage – April 2013

7 Apr

1300 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC
V6E 1C5

T: 604 661 1400
www.foragevancouver.com

As a constant bruncher, I am always on the hunt for new brunch spots. I typically tend to visit the same places, week after week, until I hear of a new place that piques my interest. The thing that always surprises me about downtown Vancouver is that there are so few brunch spots – you’d think in a city this size that there would be many options but the sad reality is that, unless you go to a hotel for brunch, you are almost out of luck. I have been hearing some pretty good things about Forage, a sustainable restaurant that has opened in the Listel Hotel on Robson street. Even though Forage is technically a hotel restaurant, it feels removed from the hotel and the price point isn’t as high as other hotel brunch spots (Yew and Hawksworth, for example).

The restaurant interior feels very clean and modern with lots of light wood highlights and natural light from the many windows. The brunch menu has all of the traditional, feel-good breakfast options that you’d expect, such as bacon and eggs, buttermilk pancakes, and a classic benny, but they also have a few meatier options, such as the delicious Rangeland Game Burger, or deep-fried pork cutlet. At $16, the burger is the most expensive item on the menu so brunch here isn’t going to break the bank.

Buttermilk pancakes with blueberries and honey butter – $11

Rangeland Game Burger – $16

We had a very pleasant brunch there yesterday and it hit the spot for a non-fussy, tasty breakfast. I believe it is worth a visit if you are in the West End and looking for an affordable brunch. I’m looking forward to returning to try dinner there.

Forage on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Blue Water Cafe – February 2013

8 Mar

1095 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 5T4

T: 604 688 8078
www.bluewatercafe.net

Brief Description: As a member of the Top Table family, Blue Water Cafe is known as one of the city’s superior seafood restaurants. The menu is comprised of a raw bar and hot seafood dishes. Price point is high-end.

If you are someone who just loves, loves, loves seafood and you have decided to splurge on a meal out, look no further than Blue Water Cafe. This spot is jumping – even when I visited on a Wednesday night a few weeks ago. The place was packed so be sure to book ahead!

After limiting what I have been eating (kinda) since the new year, I really like to splurge when I go out for dinner now. That is why I had to order the pearl barley risotto because, quite simply, I am a sucker for risotto. I did add some pan seared scallops, which were perfectly cooked, and I started with an assortment of fresh oysters. Dessert was a must-order and with a really strong dessert menu, it was hard to narrow it down but the rich, warm dark Cuban chocolate cake was highly recommended by our server and it didn’t disappoint.

Pearl Barley Risotto with Pan Seared Scallops – $24.50 + $4.50 per scallopsSmiley-faced Warm Dark Cuban Chocolate Cake – $12.50

Overall, Blue Water continues to deliver the same high quality and standards that I’ve come to expect from the Top Table Group (West, Araxi, Thierry). I do have to mention that prices are high. Without any drinks this meal cost me about $80, so depending on your situation, this may be a once-in-a-while splurge or a more frequent treat.

Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Maenam – January 2013

4 Feb

1938 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1M5

T: 604 730 5579
www.maenam.ca

Brief Description: A popular Kitsilano-based restaurant that offers well-executed, modern Thai food. Maenam is friendly on the wallet, without sacrificing quality or ambiance.

I know that this makes me sound like a HUGE grump but I’m not a fan of Dine Out Vancouver. Yes, I understand that it gives a huge injection of cash to local restaurants when they so desperately need it (just after the Christmas rush) but I think it typically doesn’t portray a restaurant in the best light. When you have that many seats turning over in a night, I think service becomes strained and the kitchen loses its passion when it is cooking the same dishes every night for two weeks straight. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I normally avoid restaurants that are participating in Dine Out until it ends. However, there was a night last week where I just didn’t want to cook. I was feeling a bit blue and the thought of having to go through the whole process of making dinner just seemed too difficult. B was in the same boat so the decision was made to go out for dinner.

It had been a while since we were last at Maenam and as we entered the restaurant we realized that they were participating in Dine Out. Our initial reaction was disappointment but we were able to get a table and, as we love the food so much at Maenam, we decided to see what they could showcase by ordering the Dine Out menu. It was incredible value at $28 per person for one starter, one salad, one curry, and one stir fry to share between two people, followed by a dessert each. Perhaps my mind could be changed about Dine Out…

Our favourite salad, the grilled Thai sausage and crispy rice salad, was unavailable whilst Dine Out was on which pushed us to try something new. We started with the mussels with Thai aromatics and nahm jim sauce, which I didn’t get a photo of, but were steamed mussels with a light broth of lemongrass, bird’s eye chilies, and Thai basil. The nahm jim sauce added even more delicious heat, with a hint of sweetness. It appears that our favourite salad now has some competition. The rest of our meal unfolded like this:

Salad to share: Banana Blossom SaladStir Fry to share: Pork Belly Stir FryCurry to share: Green Curry of Halibut CheeksPassion Fruit TrioDark Chocolate Pot de Crème

All of the dishes were really quite impressive. The banana blossom salad was unlike anything that I’ve eaten before. The banana blossoms themselves were quite husky and crunchy which gave a really interesting texture to the dish, whereas the fresh mint and coriander, gave bold flavours. What can I say about Maenam’s curries? I love the curries here and the halibut green curry packs quite a punch but is one of my favourites. The pork belly salad was a must-order for B – for me, the flavours were good but I’m always a little put off by the obvious fat marbling of the pork belly (yes, shoot me now). Dessert-wise I had heard a lot of good things about the chocolate pot de crème, so I had to try that but I was kicking myself because the tangy passion fruit trio was, in my opinion, a better choice. The chocolate pot was delicious, but I had a hard time enjoying the tangy tamarind ice cream.

Final Thoughts: Overall, we loved the food at Maenam (we always have) and this menu really gave us a chance to try some different dishes. Maybe, just maybe, Dine Out isn’t so bad after all.

Maenam on Urbanspoon

Minami

30 Jan

1118 Mainland Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2T9

T: 604 685 8080
www.minamirestaurant.com

Brief Description: A high-end, upscale Japanese restaurant in the heart of Yaletown. Prices are quite high but justified because of the excellent quality of food and service.

It is rare for me to rave about a Japanese/sushi restaurant. Yes, I enjoy certain types of sushi but on my scale of favourite foods, it is nowhere near the top. With that said, however, I’ve fallen pretty hard for Minami restaurant which is the sister restaurant of Miku restaurant. Minami opened in the old Goldfish spot in Yaletown early in summer 2012 and since it opened I have returned many times, sometimes for lunch and other times for dinner. Each and every time that I’ve visited, I have left impressed.

Firstly, I should warn you that Minami is quite pricey. This is Yaletown after all, and a cheap eat this is not. The cheapest thing on the menu are some of the specialty rolls at about $10 each, but the majority of dishes are much more than that. Entrees and beef dishes are in the $20 to $30 price range, noodle dishes are around the $18 mark, and appetizers start at around $13. Do I think the food is worth the cost? In my experience, yes. The seafood is incredibly fresh, the flavours of the dishes are clean and unmarked by heavy lashings of soy sauce, and the Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi at $14 is one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time. The restaurant seems to take a lot of pride in presentation, therefore, dishes are beautifully plated.

The large dining room is decorated quite elegantly and booths line one side of the room for a slightly more intimate experience. Seating options include the bar, the sushi bar, the dining room, and an outdoor patio for warmer months. I have found the service to be very friendly and the servers are more than happy to explain dishes or find alternatives for vegans/vegetarian (a friend of mine who is vegan was well looked after when we went).

Assorted Aburi Sushi

P1050416Chicken Nanban

P1060174Spicy Pork Gyoza

P1060178

Sashimi Lunch

Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi – $14

P1060900King Roll (no masago) – $10

P1050420House made ice cream and fresh fruit

Although I haven’t included many photos of the desserts in this post, the ones that I’ve sampled, and seen, have been quite spectacular. Even a simple dish of homemade ice cream and fresh fruit was delicious. What I’m trying to say is save some room for dessert!

Final Thoughts: Although Minami is on the expensive side, I truly believe it is worth the splurge, particularly if you are into sushi. The aburi sushi is worth a visit alone. A restaurant worthy of visiting for special occasions or first dates.

Minami on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Peaceful Restaurant – December 2012

19 Dec

#110-532 W. Broadway (at Cambie)
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 1E9

T: 604 879 9878
www.peacefulrestaurant.com

Brief Description: A small and simple restaurant specializing in tantalizing Mandarin cuisine and hand-made noodles. Extremely affordable yet does not compromise on taste. Service is spotty.

Do you ever go to a restaurant that you know well, and frequent often, and order the same dishes over and over again, regardless of how many times you go there? I do. I do that at Peaceful Restaurant ALL THE TIME! I tend to always order the same dishes; the Beef Roll, the General Tsao’s Chicken, and the Mu Shu Noodles. I have no justification as to why I continually order these same dishes but recently I decided that enough was enough. It was time to mix things up a bit.

My sis and I ordered two new dishes; the Peaceful House Rice ($11.95) and the “Cat Ears” Pork and Vegetable Stir-fried Noodles ($12.95). Both dishes were delicious and are now in danger of being added to the “must order repeatedly” list.

“Cat Ears” Stir-Fried Noodles

Peaceful Special Fried Rice

The “Cat Ear” noodles, which admittedly is not the most appetizing of names, is a soft and chewy noodle, coated in a tasty sauce and finished with a few basic veg and pork. You can also order this dish vegetarian. The Peaceful Fried Rice has a great full flavour, with lots of veggies, assorted meats, eggs, and is finished with a slight spice.

I tend not to provide much criticism on my blog as I prefer to focus on the positives instead. However, I have to be honest and mention that the service has really been slipping at their West Broadway location. One of the servers on my last visit was just down right rude. Disappointingly, I haven’t seen the wonderfully friendly girl that used to work the front counter in quite some time. I’m hoping that she is just on vacation and that the service picks up again. It would be a shame to recommend a place with such delicious food but completely inconsistent service.

And, lastly, I just read a sign that they have displayed in their restaurant window that said that they have sold their Davie street location to focus on their original location. I am glad to hear this as the two times that I did visit the Downtown restaurant, I was awfully disappointed. I felt like the Davie street location was a bad representation of their original restaurant.

Peaceful Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Christmas Lunch at Cioppino’s

18 Dec

133 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 5P6

T: 604 688 7466
www.cioppinos.wordpress.com

Brief Description: Cioppino’s and its sister restaurant next door, Enoteca, serve up classic Mediterranean cuisine, with a sophisticated dining room as the backdrop. Prices reflect the high standard of food and service.

Every year, my team at work goes for a fancy lunch to celebrate Christmas and the end of another year, and this year was no exception. It has become quite the norm for us to splurge and this year we chose to return to Cioppino’s, as we had a memorable lunch there two years ago.

I believe that Cioppino’s is one of the best overall restaurants in the city. That might be because I’m a huge fan of Italian but I do think that the quality, in service and food, is exceptional at Cioppino’s. The decor itself is quite traditional, with terracotta tiling, warm wood features, and a more sophisticated feel. The clientèle also seemed to be more suits and grey hair, than young and hip, but I’d say that is mostly because of the price-range. Cioppino’s is not cheap, in fact with the cheapest main courses of pasta at $25 and meat dishes upwards of $35, I’d put it in the expensive, high-end basket, but it is lovely and worth it for a splurge.

Caprese Tradizionale

Classic Lobster Bisque

Saffron, citrus risotto with seared scallops

Milk Chocolate: Light mousse, Caramelia chantilly and ice-cream

Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Minami Restaurant – October 2012

24 Oct

1118 Mainland Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2T9

T: 604 685 8080
www.minamirestaurant.com

Those who know me, know that sushi isn’t exactly my favourite type of food, although it has grown on me since I moved to Vancouver. I’d even go as far as to say that this small town gal has gotten slightly more adventurous with what she orders (although you wouldn’t think so from the following post). However, sashimi still makes me green. *shudders* There is just something about eating a big slab of cold fish that turns my stomach. The reason I tell you this is that in spite of not being a big fan of sushi, I am actually excited about a sushi restaurant!

Minami restaurant, sister restaurant to Miku restaurant, opened in the old Goldfish spot in Yaletown earlier in the summer. The reason I am so excited about this particular restaurant is quite simply due to their signature dish, the Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi, which is pressed local salmon, jalapeño, and miku sauce. It is heavenly and has me longing for it well before I get to the restaurant, and re-living every bite long after I’ve left. It is worth every cent of its $14 price tag. Yeah, I think I’m in love…

 Get in my mouth, Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi!

Here are some photos from my most recent visit to Minami. For all of you serious sushi lovers, look away now. This is probably the least adventurous food order that you’ve ever seen at sushi restaurant. Seriously.

I know, I know! Not very exciting but the Spicy Pork Gyoza were excellent.

Chicken Nanban- part of the lunch box.

The beautiful colours of the Sashimi Lunch. (B’s dish, not mine!)

Once again, completely un-adventurous with ice-cream and fresh berries, but it was soooo good!

Minami on Urbanspoon

The Sardine Can

16 Oct

26 Powell Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1E7

T: 604 568 1350
www.thesardinecan.ca

Brief Description: A small, intimate Gastown bar that offers affordable small plates of familiar Spanish tapas.

The owners that gave Vancouverites the well-known neighbourhood restaurants Cafeteria, Pied-a-Terre, and La Buca, have added The Sardine Can to their repertoire. Since my first visit, I have been quite vocal about my love for The Sardine Can and I highly recommend it as a cozy spot to pop into for a few drinks and snacks, or make this your destination and fill up on the affordable tapas that are offered.

The space is cute and cozy – the name being an appropriate description of this tiny bar. An open kitchen allows you to watch as your dishes are prepared and the small details, such as fish wallpaper, are subtle but show that design has been considered. My one complaint is the TV that is nestled high up on the wall – it is just too distracting and it doesn’t suit the intimacy of the place.

(T) Tomato and manchego toasts, and Meatballs cooked in tomato and Rioja. (B) Roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with salt cod, and Smoked sardines on toast.

Gambas al ajillo (spicy garlic prawns) – $10

Patatas bravas (roasted fingerling potatoes, garlic aioli and tomato) -$5

The menu has changed slightly since they first opened but I am assuming that was to weed out the less popular dishes. The menu consists of small plates of tapas, including spicy garlic prawns, smoked ham and melon, chorizo con Jerez (chorizo sausage in sherry), and meatballs cooked in tomato and Rioja. Plates are ridiculously affordable with some at $5 and others at $10. Currently nothing on the menu is over $10. I have tried a lot of the menu and all of the dishes have been delicious, although I would recommend that they ease up on the jam in the bocadillos dish (little grilled sandwiches of ham, cheese and prune jam) as it over-powered the rest of the sandwich.

Bocadillos (little grilled sandwiches of ham, cheese and prune jam) – $10

My personal favourite dishes are the champiñones (mushrooms in sherry cream sauce), the tomato and manchego toasts, the chorizo con Jerez, and the Arroz con pollo (Bomba rice with Moorish spiced chicken). Wines by the glass are quite cheap with prices as low as $6 and $7. Spanish beers, such as Alhambra, are available for $5.50 a bottle.

Chorizo con Jerez (chorizo sausage in sherry) – $10

Champiñones (mushrooms in sherry cream sauce) – $7.50

Arroz con pollo (Bomba rice with Moorish spiced chicken) – $10

If you are visiting solo, perch yourself at the bar and chat with the friendly staff. If you are with a group, please note that they do not take reservations so try to get down there early to get a table, which shouldn’t be difficult as they open at 3pm.

Para picar (olives, spiced almonds, chickpea spread, bread) – $7.50

Terrina de chocolate (chocolate terrine with chili, olive oil, sea salt, toast) – $5.50

Even with prices as cheap as they are, they go one step further and give you a 10% discount if you pay with cash. Can anyone say cheap night out?

Final Thoughts: It’s about time that Vancouver had itself a reliable tapas bar. I mentioned in a previous post that I can’t vouch for the food being traditional (I haven’t sampled a lot of authentic tapas) but regardless, the prices and the quality of food make this a no-brainer. A nice little spot for some cheap eats and drinks without having to sacrifice on quality.

Sardine Can on Urbanspoon

Eleven Madison Park – New York

5 Oct

11 Madison Avenue
New York, NY
10010
USA

When I was planning our trip to New York, I was pretty confident that during the trip we would be indulging in the best meal of our lives and, thankfully, I wasn’t wrong. However, I had assumed that Per Se would deliver the most memorable meal. I was pleasantly surprised when, in fact, it was Eleven Madison Park that surpassed all of our expectations.

Firstly, if you are planning a trip to Eleven Madison Park in the next few months, stop reading NOW. Do not flick through the pictures. Do not try to get a glimpse of how spoiled you will be. Get outta here! I say that as a friend and as someone who doesn’t want to ruin the experience for you.

…OK…so if you are still reading, I’m assuming that you aren’t going to New York anytime soon. Try to bear with me as I struggle to capture in words four hours of an incredible experience. To me, it was more than a dinner. It was almost a performance, a dinner complete with a rotating cast of seamless performers, mystery, and intrigue. This is not an exaggeration.

If you are going to visit Eleven Madison Park jump in, feet first, and prepare to pay for the experience. The tasting menu of fourteen (yes, fourteen!) courses is $195 per person, and drinks pairing is an extra $145. I was hesitant to pay for the pairings but in the end, I decided to splurge and was very glad I did. They certainly didn’t skimp on the booze and after the ten or so drinks that we had, we were extremely happy wobbling out of there. The interesting thing with their pairings was that it wasn’t just limited to wine, there was also beer, Sauternes, sherry, and apple brandy. When it came to the menu, you were able to select four courses out of the fourteen courses but the rest were a surprise. The beauty of their menu is that you don’t know exactly what you are getting as you are only selecting the main ingredient for each course. For example, for one of my courses I selected the element “foie gras” but how that would be served, or with what, I didn’t know. I only knew I was getting foie gras. Personally, I love this concept as I’m not that adventurous when it comes to ordering food.

We were told that we were among some of the first diners to experience this new tasting menu and the theme of the menu was “New York”. Quite simply, dishes were meant to showcase either produce from the region of New York, or stories and dishes traditionally associated with the area. It goes without saying that I found all of the food amazing, incredible, outstanding! There were courses that were more memorable than others and, for me, they were the Black and White cookies, the Sturgeon sabayon, the carrot tartare, the carved-at-the-table duck, the picnic basket, and the sleight of hand card game that introduced us to our dessert course (I told you there was intrigue). I get giddy just thinking about this dinner! So, let me introduce you to the best meal of my life!

Black Truffle and Parmesan – Savory Black & White Cookie.

These are the restaurant’s savoury take on the famous Black and White Cookies. They were melt in your mouth, earthy, truffle cookies. Absolutely decadent.

Apple – Smoked Tea with Celery Root and Apple Chips.

Drink Pairing: Diebolt-Vallois, Blanc de Blancs, Cramant, Champagne, France.

The story goes that potato chips were first created in New York. In the packet were four chips and each one was prepared differently.

Tomato – Gelée with Gooseberries and Tarragon.

Cucumber – Snow with Lapsang Souchong and Grape.

Sturgeon – Sabayon with Chives.

One of my favourite dishes! The sabayon was creamy, foamy, dense, all at once. It was really hard to pick the sturgeon flavour as there was no fishy flavour at all. The only problem was that I wanted more!

What is under the dome??  (The mystery I was talking about earlier!)

Smoked Sturgeon!

Sturgeon – Smoked with Everything Bagel Crumble, Pickles, and Caviar.

Drink Pairing: El Maestro Sierra, Fino, Jerez, Spain.

First Selected Course: Foie Gras – Seared with Water Chestnuts, Dates, and Sunchokes.

Drink Pairing: Château d’Yquem, Sauternes, France 1998

Carrot – Tartare with Rye Bread and Condiments

Drink Pairing: Hermann Wiemer Riesling, Magdalena, Seneca Lake, New York, 2010.

This dish is a tribute to the steakhouses of New York. A chef came out to our table with a meat-grinder and made “tartare” at the table. This dish, even in its simplicity, blew my mind!

Second Selected Course: Lobster – Poached with Escarole and Almond.

Drinking Pairing: Cantina Terlano Pinot Bianco, Vorberg, Alto-Adige, Italy, 2009.

The Long Island Clambake.

 Clam – Clambake with Tomato, Corn, and Zucchini

Drink Pairing: Southhampton Brewery, Saison Deluxe, Long Island, New  York.

Third Selected Course: Duck – Roasted with Lavender and Honey, Apple and Quinoa.

Drink Pairing: Domaine Bois de Boursan, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley, France, 2009.

We opted to share the duck and, when I talk about how strong the service was, this was particularly evident when we were served this dish. The whole duck was served on a carving table that was wheeled to our table. Our server then sliced the duck – infront of us – and served it on plates that were warming on the side. Impeccible.

A picnic!!

Greensward – Pretzel, Mustard, and Beer.

Drink Pairing: Ithaca Beer Company, Picnic Basket Ale, Ithaca, New York.

The picnic basket was such a fun course. We got to create our own picnic at the table from New York state produce, and of course, there was a pretzel. The beer was specifically brewed for Eleven Madison Park.

Malt – Egg Cream with Vanilla and Seltzer

I’d never heard of Egg Creams before, but once again, it is a tribute to New York, in particular Brooklyn. It was created in front of us at the table.

Chocolate – Ganache with Caramel, Apricot, and Cocoa Nibs

Drink Pairing: Heidi Schroeck, On the Wings of Dawn, Ruster Ausbruch, Burgenland, Austria, 2009.

Fig – Glazed with Orange, Sage, and Tapioca

Drink Pairing: Donnafugata, Ben Ryé, Passito di Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy, 2009.

Huckleberry – Soy Cheesecake and Lime

So, the intrigue that I mentioned earlier came with the final dish, dessert. I’m not going to give away the trick but the course involved a card game, Three Card Monte, with cards made especially for Eleven Madison Park. We had to choose a card that helped select our next dessert course, the chocolate that you see in the picture. We were not expecting what happened next and we both sat at our table for the next 10 minutes speculating how this trick was done. An excellent end to the meal!

And finally, we were served chocolate covered pretzels, finished with a sprinkle of sea salt, and a bottle of apple brandy. We were sent away that night with house-made granola (for breakfast, they told us), a box of the beautiful designer playing cards, a booklet of all of the stories, as well as menus for each person.

Service throughout the whole meal was impeccable and the servers at Eleven Madison Park know their stuff. They oozed passion. It felt as though they were truly thrilled to have us there. They seemed genuinely excited to show off their tricks and treat us to their menu. This is what I felt was lacking from our meal at Per Se.

Eleven Madison Park has set a high bar. This was the most memorable meal of my life. I would not hestiate to return to Eleven Madison Park, nor would I hestiate to recommend it to anyone travelling to New York. Save your pennies, because it ain’t cheap, but for the foodies amongst us it will absolutely be worth it.

Eleven Madison Park on Urbanspoon

Per Se – New York

2 Oct

10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY
10019
USA

B and I are big believers in the term “You only live once”. Hence why we didn’t hesitate to book Per Se when we went to New York, even though we had only been at The French Laundry back in March. We could not visit New York and not check this bucket-list item off.

Per Se is The French Laundry’s sister restaurant, located in the hustle and bustle of New York City. The restaurant looks directly out over Columbus Circle and has spectacular views over Central Park. The restaurant is more modern, so less cozy than The French Laundry. If I had to chose which ambiance I preferred, I’d have to say I preferred the “feel” of The French Laundry as it was more intimate and the vibe was much more relaxed.

The food at Per Se was as superb as the food that we received at The French Laundry and there were some familiar dishes on the menu, starting with the canapés of salmon tartare coronets (cones filled with red onion creme fraiche and topped with salmon tartare) and gruyere gougères (French cheese puffs). The “Oysters and Pearls”, the foie gras, baskets of tempting freshly baked breads with paired butters, and “coffee and donuts”, were also dishes that we had been served at The French Laundry. Once again, my favourite dish on the menu (available as a supplement) was the silky foie gras. It is so rich and decadent!

With any high-end fine-dining restaurant, it was more than a meal. It was a three hour experience of indulgence. Our nine-course set menu consisted of:

Course 1: Thomas Keller’s signature dish – “Oysters and Pearls” – “Sabayon” of pearl tabioca with Island Creek oysters and sterling white sturgeon caviar.

Course 2 (supplement): Slow Poached Élevages Périgord Moulard Duck Foie Gras with pluot glaze, young radishes, pea tendrils and Riesling gelée with toasted brioche. This was served with seven (!!) different types of salt.

Course 3: Pan Roasted Chatham Bay Cod “Billi Bi”, Yukon gold potato “rissolé”, green beans and demi-sec Juliette tomatoes.

Course 4: Charcoal-grilled Langoustines “Curry” with basmati rice, toasted almonds, coconut cream, “herb salad” and chickpea “pappadam”.

Course 4 (supplement): Butter Poached Scottish Blue Lobster with matsutake mushrooms “Cuit et Cru,” compressed d’Anjou pear, mizuna leaves and “Mousseline de Crustacés”.

Course 5: “Ballottine De Suprème De Pintade” (Guinea Fowl) served with sweet corn, chanterelle mushrooms, swiss chard “Ribs” and California Syrah “Gastrique”.

Course 6: Elysian Fields Farm’s “Carré D’Agneau” (lamb) with patty pan squash, globe artichokes, marinated eggplant, Meyer lemon “Suprémes”, arugula and “Sauce Gremolata”.

Course 7: Spring Brook Farm’s “Tarentaise”(a type of cheese) served with summer melons, pickled Ají dulce peppers, garden mâche, Tellicherry pepper melba and hazelnut-brown butter vinaigrette.

Course 8: “Rainbow Sherbet” with “Biscuit Dacquoise”, whipped orange cream and Garden State raspberry sorbet.

Course 9: “Junior Mint” of chocolate “bavarois”, juniper “ganache” and peppermint ice cream.

Course 9: Unknown dessert – it was ordered off the vegetarian menu so it wasn’t included on our printed menu.

Popcorn Ice Cream

Donuts

As was the case at The French Laundry, Per Se finished strong when the mignardises just kept coming! We had warm donuts, popcorn ice cream balls (very good), espresso semi-freddo, cappuccinos, and then a three-tiered selection of caramels, nougat, and chocolate truffles, was left on the table. One thing that Per Se did differently from French Laundry was, in addition to the rest of the desserts, they also offered us a selection of 24 house-made chocolates that were presented to us in a large wooden box. The best part was that we could select as many of them as we wanted! After all of the desserts, I must admit that I could barely think about eating them, but got three anyway. As seems to be customary with Thomas Keller, we also received a bag of goodies to take with us.

I had been looking forward to Per Se SO MUCH that my expectations were set skyhigh. The reason for this, as I mentioned in an earlier post, was mostly due to its #6 placement on the “World’s Best Restaurants” list. I thought, wow, if it is #6 and French Laundry is #43, then Per Se is going to knock it out of the park! Well, to be completely honest, I was more impressed with our experience at The French Laundry than I was with Per Se. I felt that the service at French Laundry was much more personal and more attentive than what we received at Per Se.

At times, it almost felt like we were forgotten, or at least not a priority, and we weren’t engaged by the servers in friendly queries, like we were at French Laundry (although I heard them asking other diners questions about their visit to New York, where they were from, etc.). As much as this might make me sound high-maintanence, I didn’t feel special. At The French Laundry I felt so special because they took such great care of us.

Normally, I wouldn’t feel entitled to “feel special” but at $300 per person for just the set menu (not including supplements or drinks) and at one of the best restaurants in the world, you are damn right that I wanted to feel special. Simple things, like extra brioche with the foie gras or being handed the menu in a folder without asking, were all things taken care of at The French Laundry but Per Se neglected to do. It’s not to say it was a bad experience, it was still incredible, however when I compare our two experiences, French Laundry was well ahead.

Per Se on Urbanspoon

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