Mixed Experience at Rustic Canyon


#1

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.

New photo by Andrew Wilmar

Beet and berry salad was also outstanding. Colorful and flavorful with wonderful textural contrast, especially between the blackberry(?) seeds and toasted quinoa.

New photo by Andrew Wilmar

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.

New photo by Andrew Wilmar

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.

New photo by Andrew Wilmar

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.

New photo by Andrew Wilmar

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.


#2

Thanks for the report back @Bigmouth. We haven’t been able to visit Rustic for a while (just trying out other spots), but I wonder if it’s because Chef Fox is busy trying to establish his new restaurant and wasn’t overseeing things?


#3

Which wine? That seems crazy. The markup on the list seems normal. I looked up a couple of $120 bottles and they retail for $70-75. Could you have ordered a vineyard-designated bottle and compared it with an undesignated one?


#4

I feel like if you had eaten that chicken green posole dish first, before your palate was tired you’d have liked it a lot more… just a guess though, i’ve not been.


#5

What kind of dressing did they serve it with? Is that feta cheese?

I have beets, raspberries and arugula in the house, and need to use them.


#6

#7

Ahhh, that makes total sense. I completely forgot about the other projects he’s working on now.

It was the 2013 Peter Pliger Kuenhof Kaiton Sudtirol Riesling. It’s actually $110 on the menu, so I misspoke slightly. I believe this is it:

https://www.wine.com/product/kuenhof-kaiton-sudtirol-eisacktaler-riesling-2013/309964

And look, it was tasty! Enough that I scrapped my plan for a second cocktail and drank the wine instead. We were just unpleasantly surprised at the markup.

Oops, the roast chicken was actually a separate dish. I just forgot to take the picture lol. The pozole verde came with muscles. As I say, it was one of our favorites the last time we were there a couple of years ago.

Robert linked to a very similar recipe. Try to include the quinoa if you can. It really made the dish from a textural perspective.

That recipe is very similar, though our preparation had beet hummus instead of avocado. Also, I could swear the quinoa was toasted, but I’m not 100% sure.

PS: I just realized, the crunch may have come from amaranth, not necessarily the quinoa.


#8

I’d write to the restaurant and ask if that was a mistake.


#9

The quinoa was toasted when I had it. Avocados are scarce right now.


#10

@Bigmouth and @robert

Thank you for my new favorite food!

I haven’t made the complete salad yet, but I have been mashing raspberries with olive oil, then tossing with beets and red wine vinegar, then throwing in a few more raspberries just for fun.

I’ve only used yellow beets, I imagine it will be even better with red beets.

Thank you for a fun new flavor combination.


#11

Thank Jeremy Fox, it was his idea. There might be a recipe in his cookbook “On Vegetables.”


#12

I may need to puruse that book.


#13

Crap! I just realized that deleting my pics from Google Photos deletes them here as well…

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that my most recent meal at Rustic Canyon was excellent overall.

Bread was warm and crisp and the cultured butter was quite tasty.

Pork and duck rillettes were outstanding. The fat had a lovely mouthfeel – rich and velvety. These guys really do charcuterie well.

Beets were a slight miss. They were well roasted but the accompanying blue cheese and deviled egg overwhelmed the dish with fattiness.

White yams with garlic butter were off the hook good. Crisp and sweet with a green-garlic sauce that reminded me of escargot. This was probably the best thing we ordered all night.

Succotash was also insanely good. The peas, fava, and ricotta were looked and tasted beautiful. Just the perfect taste of spring.

Hanger steak was tender and flavorful. The green-garlic butter made an appearance here too and took the dish over the top.

Finally, we had the cherry bostock for dessert. The cherries were just lovely and the brioche was right on the edge between French toast and pudding. Really, really good.

I also enjoyed several Blood and Sand cocktails over the course of the evening, while my friend loved his wine choices. It’s wonderful to have a place that takes wine and cocktails so seriously.