Thursday, June 21, 2012
The occasion was to launch their summer menu and owner/Chef Fred Schrock and owner/Manager Jay Clark pulled out all the stops.
First up were two flat bread pizzas; one with BBQ chicken and richly decadent balsamic onions and the other topped with creamy, soft goat cheese and artichokes. They were crisp, delicious, perfect bites while we waited for dinner to start. We sipped a sparkling fresh Vinho Verde (Portugal) and voted on the flat bread winner. I liked the BBQ, my table mates chose the artichoke and goat cheese.
|Crisp flat bread deliciousness...BBQ left and goat cheese/artichoke right|
Chilled lobster and shrimp spring rolls wrapped in rice paper were loaded with nice chunks of lobster and shrimp and came with 3 sauces for dipping: salsa verde, lovely creamy lemongrass (my fav) and sweet-hot chilli. I could have stopped eating there and gone home sated but more---lots more---was to come.
|Lovely spring rolls|
A refreshing arugula salad followed sporting the same wonderful goat cheese that topped the flat bread along with watermelon, perfectly grilled wedges of sweet golden beets and toasted pistachios. However, the dish that landed on the table next was a standout.
Dubbed the Summer Vegetarian Tasting, it was unlike any vegetarian plate I'd ever experienced. It's rare to find a Chef treating vegetables and healthy grains with as much importance as red meat or expensive seafood. Creative, deliciously executed, beautiful to look out and the taste? each mouthful better than the next but the best mouthful was probably the simplest: a thick slice of summer fresh tomato tasting like a tomato should (and rarely does) drizzled with lovely balsamic. Thank you to a confident Chef who can step back and let one of nature's wonders shine on its own. The soft taco, chili relleno and exotically delicious mango chutney sparkled with layers of heavenly flavors. I'd order that plate again, eat up every morsel and walk away smiling and content.
|Summer vegetarian tasting: grains of life (cranberry studded farro & quinoa), soft taco, chilli relleno, tofu, mango chutney, grilled asparagus|
Wild Alaskan Copper River Salmon was succulent, lightly charred, perfectly grilled. Probably the best piece of salmon I've ever had and I understand the beautiful color on the fish comes from their wild diet of Pacific shrimp. Ringing the salmon was another standout, a velvety dense corn sauce that left me wanting to lick the plate (I didn't). Sadly, the corn risotto that accompanied was a pale, unnecessary, unneeded addition to a plate of stars. Pass on that.
|Salmon with a nice touch, grilled lemon|
So, when I heard that for this dinner we would be eating a 'new' type of beef I kind of dismissed it and wondered why when we already had so much good grass fed, beer swigging, massaged cattle to choose from.
Right then a slab of beef from that new breed of bovine---Piedmontese---landed in front of me with (I must say) an impressive piece of cutlery. Fingerling potatoes, asparagus (for the 3rd time!) and a rich wine sauce came with. The bone in NY strip was nicely cooked, tender and had a mild almost bison-like flavor and texture. It was good if you like that kind of filet like meat but I do not. I like a traditional beefy NY strip or even a bone in ribeye, well marbled, charred and rare. Shoot me; I'm a fundamentalist when it comes to steaks. (Peter Luger's still has the best steaks). There was good dense flavor in the mushroom studded sauce but the potatoes were a bit soggy---too much time under the heat lamp?---and they needed salt. On the other hand the wine we drank, Markham Cellar1879, was an unoaked---thank you!---red blend with a smooth almost jammy sweetness and notes of smoke and chocolate. I loved this wine.
|Markham blend...not too expensive at $23|
|Sweet endings...blueberry cheesecake far right and cannoli third (in back) from the left|
We had, needless to say, a wonderful dinner and a terrific time. Chef and Jay were attentive and engaging and I just loved being there. The restaurant is large, inviting and clubby looking. There's a terrific open firepit in the front adjacent to two cozy seating areas with comfortable leather couches and chairs. Service is skilled and professional and noise level is moderate. We were there on a Tuesday and the place was full so I'd encourage reservations. Our group ate in the private Napa room. It looks to accommodate about 30 guests with flexible seating arrangements and a good array of technology for meetings. There's a nice wine wall and I wish I'd taken a look at the wine list. Next time.
Thank you Seasons 52! It was great!
|Main Dining Room|