Saturday, March 13, 2010

Birthday dinner with hubby & a great Merlot! Who wuddah thunk it?

So, after I returned from Germany, I looked forward to my birthday dinner with my husband, and I got to choose the restaurant. I decided not to name the restaurant here, this time (I usually do, but this time, I'll just review and leave the name out, even though I really enjoyed it).

The restaurant is one that I have read good things about in websites about fine dining. It is very beautiful, with muted tones, mostly shades of brown. We were seated in a very comfortable booth, and the maitre d' took our coats, which was a very nice touch.

Soon after, we were presented with menus and wine lists. The menu featured a truffle tasting menu with 5 courses that each had truffles. Then there was a choose-your-own 4 or 5 course menu. The truffle menu looked intriguing, but I wasn't sure I would enjoy 5 courses with truffles - I worried I would have truffle overload. So, I opted with the 4 course menu, which had an appetizer, an in-between course, a main, and a dessert. I was disappointed that they did not have a cheese cart (I love cheese carts), but one of the dessert choices was a cheese plate, so that was good.

As for the wine list, I found the prices to be exorbitant. There were tons of Burgundies and Bordeaux wines, California Cabernets and Pinot Noirs, all in the up-market direction. Hubby asked me for my wine suggestions, and they were: Merlot. I saw a couple of Merlots that I felt were undervalued, a Trefethen Merlot and a Paradigm Merlot, both looked intriguing, like stocks that took a dive for no reason other than general unpopularity among the lemmings. We have always liked the Napa winery Trefethen, but we didn't remember what their Merlot tasted like. When we asked the server what he recommended, he seemed to like the Paradigm, so we went with it - the 2006 Paradigm Napa Valley Merlot.

I admit, I also have not drunk a Merlot for ages; in fact, I do not remember the last one I have had, though I have had plenty of Pinot Noir the last few years, so I, too, am a lemming, drinking what everyone else has been drinking. So this evening was an eye opening one for me, in that I asked myself, why wasn't I acting the contrarian that I claim to be?

I thought that even more when I tasted the wine and it was delicious. Bright raspberry-like fruit, brilliant and vibrant, not heavy nor oaky, it was my kind of wine. It had backbone but not too much of one; it didn't try to claim its seriousness with too much tannin, oak, acid or any of those things - it was simply charming and fruity without being sweet. It was the wine I was looking for to sip ahead of the meal and with the dishes we chose. I was really happy with it!

On with the food - we had three courses, followed by dessert or cheese. For my first course, I chose the beef carpaccio. It was wonderful - flavorful and the texture was melt-in-your-mouth:

Hubby opted for the seared foie gras, which also melted in the mouth:

My next course was a monkfish with a rice pilaf under a red pepper:

See how when you break open the red pepper, the rice is beneath. I wasn't aware from the menu description that the fish would be fried. I prefer a roasted or pan sauteed fish, and I probably wouldn't have ordered it if I knew it would be tempura battered and fried:

Hubby ordered the quail, which I tried, and it was awesome, very flavorful - I should have gotten that!

For my main course, I had the duck breast, which was very nicely done. Though it was not imaginative, it was enjoyable, and went very well with the Merlot.

Hubby had the buffalo steak with a terrine of buffalo pot roast, which I thought was quite unique and nicely done.

Dessert, for me, was a cheese course - funny, but I used to love dessert; now I love cheese. I had an Epoisse, a Roquefort, and a Tome de Savoie. Everything was super ripe and rich and absolutely delicious. I love cheese!

Hubby's dessert was a combination of milk and dark chocolate mousses with some orange sorbet and candied mandarine orange slices.

All in all, a superb dinner with great company, terrific wine, and 4 courses that one could get used to having........ the service was perfect. Can't wait till the next time we have an excuse to celebrate!


Noel DLP said...

I like the reference to the lemmings a lot! Good writing Nancy :)

Samantha Dugan said...

Okay now I'm dying to know what the restaurant was....

Nancy Deprez said...

Thanks Noel and Samantha. I like lemmings too. And no, I won't disclose! :)