Space is just right: casual but classy…. which can also be said about the staff. They were very competent and attentive, providing insight into the menu items in a way that helped pick the right dish for each person. But not pushy, stuffy or overbearing.
Before getting into the food, it’s important to note a major plus here: personal service. Having Drew Langley on the floor, interacting with the guests is a tour de force of customer service. His subject knowledge is obvious, but he delivers it in an effortless comfortable way. This is probably not a surprise to anyone who’s dealt with him in the past. What was more of a surprise was another woman who appeared to be the floor manager. She was equally welcoming, and also effortless in ensuring guests were cared-for. It was beyond question that both of these professionals were doing what they do…. It was who they are. It was very refreshing.
Orange basil shrub – deep, haunting flavor. Much more interesting than any other non-alcoholic drink I’ve had in recent memory.
Snapper crudo w lemon foam, orange slices, candied orange. Fresh, light. Attractive visually and the foam kept the fish very moist, which in turn kept it very tender. I’ve had crudo recently where the fish was a little dried-out so the texture wasn’t great. This was not like that. Like mentioned, it’s a light starter for the heavier later dishes.
Wheat berry risotto in garlic tea with San Joachin Valley cheese. Garlic is fermented for 30 days, then made into a tea. The liquid is used to cook the risotto which gives it a very interesting taste and color. It’s a rich dish which tastes of gravy made with generous drippings of roasted meat. The skin of the wheat berries provides an interesting texture, keeping each of the berries distinct as the level of doneness was perfectly al dente. It was covered with a blackened disc of cheese from the San Joaquin valley which tasted of Parmesan, but we were told in no uncertain terms it was NOT parmesan. This dish tastes very rich, but the portion was perfect and not overwhelming. Here’s a picture of the risotto:
Intermezzo was a buttermilk rosemary bun, served with fresh salted butter and a few fresh rosemary leaves. The bread was very soft, and the soft salted butter matched it well.
Beef tenderloin was served over a burnt onion sauce alongside fingerling potatoes. The sauce made this dish. The deep flavor of the greatly reduced sauce brought out the flavor of the beef in a way that no cooking preparation could have accomplished. The beef was very tender, and well matched with the potatoes which lightened the strong flavor of the sauce.
Duck breast was dry aged a day before being dusted with coffee and roasted. This gave the firm skin and thin layer of fat a concentrated flavor which permeated the meat of the breast. The meat was moist, tender and flavorful, easy to cut and eat, and presented in a way that each bite contained some rich skin. It had an orange gelee over the top and three kinds of carrots, interestingly cooked to different levels by color. For example, the white carrots were barely cooked and almost crunchy, while the orange carrots were cooked to a softness and the purple carrots were in between the two. The different textures of the dish were very welcome and kept it interesting. One thing to note, though: I took a bite of a potato fingerling from the tenderloin dish about half way through the duck dish and it provided a nice starchy counterpunch to the duck and carrots. Here’s a picture of the duck:
Dessert was an almond panna cotta with persimmon sorbet a nutty crunch, rosemary meringue and geranium petals. It was delightful and capped-off a very enjoyable dinner. Here’s the dessert:
$140 with two drinks before tip. This place has the elements of success, and I plan to return.