Took the folks to Rustic Canyon for dinner and had kind of a mixed experience.
The meal started off strong with chicken liver toast, beet and berry salad, and spaetzle. The chicken liver was one of the better preparations I’ve had. Many places give you way more liver than toast, but the proportions here were about perfect.
Beet and berry salad was also outstanding. Colorful and flavorful with wonderful textural contrast, especially between the blackberry(?) seeds and toasted quinoa.
Spaetzle was a revelation. The sweet and nutty squash blended perfectly with the lightly browned spaetzle. I was pushing for the nettle dumplings but was glad we ordered these.
Unfortunately, the mains were less successful. We ordered porchetta, roasted chicken, and pozole verde. The best of these was definitely my porchetta. Sliced thin and served with a scrumptious pork sausage. I would definitely order this again if it was on the menu.
Less successful was the roasted chicken. Not bad per se, just kind of unremarkable. Also, it’s a very wet dish, so any crispness in the chicken skin was quickly lost.
Also slightly disappointing was the pozole verde. This was one of our favorites the last time we visited, so we were excited to order it. This time, however, the dish seemed less refined. Again, not bad necessarily, just not “knock your socks off” good like before.
What really cast a pall over our evening, however, was the wine markup. We picked a bottle for $120, which we enjoyed, but were shocked to discover it retails for around $30. I’m no wine expert, but this struck all of us as excessive and left a bad taste in our mouths.
Service was warm and unobtrusive but also uneven. For the much of the evening, we refilled our own water and wine glasses. Then toward the end of the meal, the service suddenly became way more attentive. It wasn’t unwelcome, just odd in contrast to what had come before.
So, like I said, kind of a mixed bag overall. The hits were spectacular but there were definitely some misses, too.