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Fancy Birthday Dinner - Qualified Perceptions
Fancy Birthday Dinner
For my birthday, harrock took me to Menton, which is the new spiffy restaurant in Fort Point Channel. We had the tasting menu with paired wines; I think in the future that I should not try to do that much wine, as when even the teeny amuse bouche comes with its own wine, I end up falling behind and feeling as if I ought to be drinking faster, which is the wrong thing for many reasons. That aside, everything was very tasty, even the red wines. Some random comments:

The service is definitely in the service-as-art-form model, with one waiter per plate and sometimes an extra bonus waiter for the sauce tray. But they were friendly and engaging, rather than standoffish, so that was all good. And they gave me a menu afterwards that had all the additional non-listed bits like the amuse buche (the confit broccoli, the quadrucci, and the sorbet) and included what cheeses we chose from the impressively large selection on the cheese cart. (We tried to get just one cheese dish, due to approaching being full, but I think what we ended up with was the equivalent of two people's of cheese plates with the same cheeses? I don't know how it would have had worked if we had been hungrier.)

Confit Broccoli
Banyuls Crisp, Espelette, Gribiche
NY Aully Champagne 1er Cru Brut, Jouy-les-Reims
This was very *broccoli*-tasting. More broccoli taste per cubic centimeter than most broccoli.

Local Fluke Crudo
Black Sesame, Leek, White Sturgeon Caviar
NV Simmonet –Fèbvre Crémant de Bourgogne
Italian sashimi! The sesame paste was fascinating, too.

Wild Bluefin Tuna
Maine Sea Urchin , Apple Gelée, Black Olive
2009 Bellivières Jasnières Premices
Probably my least favorite, as I am not very good at liking sea urchin, and the gelee was sort of odd in combination with the fish. The tuna itself was nice, and it was served in an actual sea urchin shell, which gave it tons of presentation points.

Veta La Palma Camarones
Fisherman's Daughter Shrimp, Espelette, Dried Fruit Vinaigrette
2009 Mas Christine Côtes du Roussilon “Cuvée Menton”
I asked about the Fisherman's Daughter - that's a sustainable shrimp fishery in Mexico. The big shrimp had little teeny shrimp on top of it, which I thought was funny as well as tasty. (I seem to laugh at my food a lot, especially at the late Gargoyles. But sometimes it's funny!)

Champlain Valley Triple Cream Quadrucci
Corn, Lobster Mushroom, Nasturtium
2010 Leitz Riesling Spätlese “Rüdesheimer Magdalenkreuz”
This was one of my favorites. The little pocket pastas full of buttery flavor, the corn cream base... really nice.

Seared Foie Gras de Canard
Ginger, Rhubarb, Tellicherry Pepper
2009 Kracher Zweigelt Beerenauslese
Terrine of Foie Gras, Ris de Veau, and Rabbit
White Peach, Rosemary Raisin Toast, Verjus
2008 Kracher Beerenauslese Cuvée
I had the seared and Jerry had the terrine. Since we admitted we were going to share, they brought us both wines too. They were both nice dessert-y wines that made the rich foie gras even richer, but I'm not sure I could really have matched them one way or another. The seared dish was awesome; the terrine I thought was perfectly nice, but then, there's a reason we both ordered the ones we did.

Assiette of Rabbit
Sunflower Seed, Winter Squash, Parsnip
2009 François Raquillet Mercurey 1er Cru “Les Vasées”
Assiette is chef for "assortment" - this was a bit of loin, and a... shoulder confit? and a sausage. The loin had the extra-waiter dance of the sauce, and the sauce was one of those demiglace sort of things that they give you a sauce utensil for so that you need not resort to licking your plate, as you might be tempted to do otherwise.

Suckling Pig
Black-Eyed Pea, Tomato Jam, Purslane
2008 Les Obriers de la Piera Coteaux du Languedoc “Terrasses du Larzac”
Another assiette! This one had five kinds - loin, shoulder, sausage, plus belly and a fifth that I don't remember. And more loin sauce. This was definitely tasty, though it felt a little similar to the rabbit. I also didn't find anything that the tomato jam seemed the perfect thing to go with, though it was interesting in its own right.

Artisanal Cheeses
Reypenear VSOP, Netherlands
Bayrischer Blauschimmelkase, Germany
Challerhocker, Toggenburg
Blu Di Capra, Piemonte
This really was the most impressive course, due to the cheese cart with too many interesting-sounding choices. We ended up with two Gouda/Comte-ish cheeses for Jerry and two blues for me, plus a little bit of one a buttery cheese that isn't listed. And the cheeses came with nuts and honey and a chutney thing, too.

Mango Mojito Sorbet
Cashew Crumble, Lime Tapioca
The mojito had a serious kick to it.

Warm Apple Cider Donut
Tonka Bean, Earl Grey, Cinnamon
Broadbent Madeira Malmsey 10 Year
At this point, I was way too full, so Jerry got one of my mini-donuts and most of the malmsey as well, but they were still darned good. (Tonka bean was ice cream, and Earl Grey was a creme sauce underneath, though it really didn't taste very much like Earl Grey. Though since I think Earl Grey tastes like soap, that was really all to the best for me.)

Current Mood: happy happy

18 comments or Leave a comment
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: September 26th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooooh. (I mean, except for one menu item.) Hmmmm.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: September 26th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I bet that you could say "I am not allergic to rabbit but would be very very sad to eat it" and they would bring something else. :)
lillibet From: lillibet Date: September 26th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
The code word is "aversion" :) And yes, they will accommodate aversions very cheerfully.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: September 27th, 2011 01:06 am (UTC) (Link)
(Mea culpa, where are my manners?)

Happy belated birthday! :)
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: September 26th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Om nom nom!

I must agree with you on the sea urchin, though. It's one of the few things I've been presented with as food that I think I would not try again.
marcusmarcusrc From: marcusmarcusrc Date: September 26th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ditto kelkyag on sea urchin... I've been told that the quality of the sea urchin makes a huge difference and I probably just had a inferior sample - but my experience was bad enough for me never to want to put sea urchin in my mouth ever again.

Also, I do like challerhocker cheese!!! Mmm, tasty! (I think it makes a good melting cheese, too...)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: September 26th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've had sea urchin three times now. Once, at Kaya, it was the most non-food food I have ever had. Once, at o ya, it was reasonably tasty. Here was not quite up to tasty, but was not icky. :)
nuclearpolymer From: nuclearpolymer Date: September 27th, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't eat it very often, but to me it tastes like the green goey part of lobster (which I do like a lot).
merastra From: merastra Date: September 26th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, sounds awesome! I suspect I'd not be a fan of sea urchin either, but would certainly try a "taste" of it. The little pocket pastas sounds lovely. Makes me want to try making some of my own. (You had me when you combined "lobster mushroom" with "full of buttery flavor". :-)

Hippo Birdies Two Ewes! ;-)
lillibet From: lillibet Date: September 26th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
So cool to see how they've changed things since we were there last week. Glad you got to do that!

Shall I tell you my sea urchin story?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: September 26th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of the first things I did afterwards was compare my menu to yours! :) (I'm glad you got the two that I liked best; my shrimp were good, but your sablefish likely beat my sea urchin.)

I would love to hear your sea urchin story. :)
lillibet From: lillibet Date: September 27th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
The sablefish was pretty magnificent. I have enjoyed sea urchin in preparations (Jason once ordered a memorable pasta carbonara with sea urchin that was delicious) but on its own it is a bit much.

The Sea Urchin Story

Once, back in college, I went out for sushi with my best friend, steve, another friend, Rachel, and Rachel's sister, Sarah, who was visiting from out of town. Sarah ordered uni (sea urchin) and apparently enjoyed it and, not wanting to be rude, we refrained from making any sort of "ew! you're gonna eat that?!" comments during the meal. But afterward, as we were strolling down Newbury St. shopping for a birthday present for steve's boyfriend, he commented that he was very impressed by Sarah's eating uni. She waxed rhapsodic about how delicious and wonderful it is and urged steve to try it sometime.

As we entered one of those tiny little shops where you can never be more than two feet from the clerk, steve explained that he was unlikely to try uni, because for him sea urchins are not food, but lab animals. During high school, as an aspiring biologist, he had spent a summer squeezing sea urchins for their eggs and sperm.

"That's what it tastes like," Sarah exclaimed. The clerk, not two feet away, looked nervous. "What?" steve asked. "Sperm," Sarah explained. The clerk blanched.

"Oh," said steve. "I wouldn't know." The clerk visibly relaxed, until steve added "Never having tasted sea urchin."
chanaleh From: chanaleh Date: September 27th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: September 27th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
rifmeister From: rifmeister Date: September 26th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Amazing meal! And happy happy birthday to you!
lillibet From: lillibet Date: September 27th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I also meant to ask--do you remember the name of your server? I adore (really, adore) the staff there.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: September 27th, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's hard to pin down which one was our server in particular, as we interacted with so many of them! And I didn't get their names. But our most-often server was a woman with straight light brown hair and a roundish face, and we also talked a lot to the guy who was presumably the sommelier, youngish and very cheerful.
fredrickegerman From: fredrickegerman Date: October 8th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, this sounds great.

I've had the same problem with tasting menu with wine pairings at other places: I feel like I have to finish the early glasses, and oh boy does that turn out to be a mistake later on.
18 comments or Leave a comment