Monday, March 22, 2010

Church on Sunday

Yes, more gratuitous food & wine pics!

So, dinner was at Church & State on Sunday evening with good friends.... Sunday is a prix fixe menu only at Church & State, and no access to their normal menu, so that was a bit rigid. But we tried not to let this affect our evening, and with the exciting wines and fun people that were present, it really didn't.

First off, the 2007 Burrowing Owl Chardonnay was opened and it was a beauty. Bright fruit, with very good acidity coupled with some oakiness which did increase as the wine opened up - still, it was very well balanced - yes, a bit more oaky than I normally prefer, but still very well done given the style. Not super buttery. More like crisp apple and pear-type fruits with good concentration and some new oak. Very easy to drink and good with our amuse bouche and appetizers.

Our other wine was what friend Bennett chose from his cellar - 1971 Cheval Blanc, a Bordeaux from St. Emilion on the right bank, a wine made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Movie afficianados will recognize Cheval Blanc as the wine that Miles was hoarding in Sideways, and ended up drinking by himself out of a styrofoam cup after his friend's wedding ceremony. Bennett reminded me that was the 1961 Cheval Blanc that Miles was drinking, and the wine geeky irony was that while Miles ranted that he would not drink Merlot, his favorite Bordeaux wine is actually primarily made from the grape variety Merlot (along with Cabernet Franc).
The 71 Cheval Blanc was pretty spectacular - did not taste a day over 20 - it was not old-tasting, instead it was spicy, rich and flavorful, in a French wine sort of way, not a California wine sort of way, but it still had plenty of fruit, plenty of bright purply red color in the glass, and delicious nuance. Drinking this 39 year old wine made me understand why Bordeaux is collected and revered. It holds up! That was an awesome treat.
Onto the food pics.
The amuse bouche was a cheesy ham tarte, like something you might enjoy in Alsace (though I have never been to Alsace, people just tell me that Alsacians like this sort of thing):
We ordered an extra a la carte appetizer to share, this tarte flambe, which was also could have been from Alsace. Delicious cheesy goodness, went really well with the Chardonnay, actually:

The fixed menu had these two appetizers for the table to share, a Thon (tuna) Bourgignon (with a beef jus sauce):

And a salad, which was quite simple but nicely fresh:

There was a choice of main dishes; hubby and I both chose the veal tenderloin filet topped with forest mushrooms, fresh peas, and carrots:

It was a nice piece of veal, very rare, though most of the flavor was in the mushrooms on top - the veal could have been made more flavorful, just my opinion, but it was very tender and good.
Finally, there was a dessert platter to share - some basic things on there, like a orange sorbet-type thing, a creme brule, and some dried fruits and brandy on a crisp.
In all, the food was rustic, nicely flavored, very rich, with plenty of cheese and cream (especially the potatoes au gratin, which I have not photographed, but they accompanied the main course - they were super creamy, cheesy and salty). What we had was definitely enjoyable and tasty, however, not as refined as say the mysterious birthday dinner I wrote about a couple of posts ago. Church & State has a regular menu that we would like to check out sometime, which has some more daring items like crispy pig ears, pieds de cochon (pigs feet) and other interesting delicacies, and its casual, hip-bistro-like atmosphere does have its draw if you are in the area (and don't mind driving through skid row to arrive to its slightly gentrified block).
To conclude, Church & State is a cool place, and I had a great time. They don't mind if you bring your own wine, and they know how to take a cork out of an old bottle without breaking it into bits. And that'll bring me to Church on Sunday, no problem.


Samantha Dugan said...

Sorry Church & State was not as good as you hoped. I had such a great time there and found the food simple but very well done. Now I sat at the bar and ordered off the regular menu so maybe that was the difference....that or those wicked cocktails they make clouded my judgment. Very cool of Benito to share that wine with you.....

Nancy Deprez said...


I think the food was good, sorry I gave the impression that it wasn't! I would definitely go back and try the regular menu!

Holly S said...

My husband and I are really sour on Bordeaux wines unless they cost 100 Euro+. I find anything cheaper is really quite disappointing and just resting on the fact that it was made in Bordeaux. Rather sad.