Archive for May, 2012

Spago

We had a fabulous meal in April with the new chef de Cuisine Tetsu Yahagi. We were anxiously anticipating our second meal with Chef Yahagi and it was even better than our first experience. Chef Yahagi is a terrific chef who executes to perfection plus has a gift for blending new flavor combinations, textures and ingredients. He combines contemporary technique with classical preparation perfectly. He is also a superb editor – there is nothing extraneous on the plate. Each dish is well-conceived and thoughtful. We opted to let Chef Yahagi create an “omakase” tasting menu and it was spectacular.

BYO Krug to start

Signature dish – Spicy tuna tartar in miso cone cup

Japanese Anago (eel) tempura with dehydrated soy powder – a one bite wonder of taste and texture

Hamachi ceviche with grapefruit, microgreens, yuzu sauce

Another signature dish – House smoked salmon on a corn blini, dill creme fraiche, salmon eggs

Sturgeon mousse in tomato-chili crackers topped with oscetra caviar – another one bite wonder with great texture – soft smooth mousse inside a crunchy outer shell

Bacon Confit en croute

BYO White wine

Sauteed Fanny Bay Oyster with Madras Curry Aioli, Mango Chutney, Marinated Cucumber – absolutely fantastic and I used my finger to mop up every bit of sauce

Cucumber Sorbet before broth is added

Cucumber Sorbet, brunoise of daikon and cucumber with a broth infused with jasmine tea – a lovely palate cleanser

Smoked Kanpachi, olive oil sorbet,farmer’s market mustard greens, cherry tomatoes, balsamic reduction and basil oil candy – again the combination of flavors were incredible plus smoking the kanpachi was a masterful idea

BYO White wine

Consomme gelee, cauliflower cream, oscetra caviar, Santa Barbara uni – Chef Yahagi knew that uni is one of my favorite ingredients and wow did he deliver with this dish

Lobster “Boudin Blanc,” Santa Barbara Spot Prawn (poached very slowly in olive oil), Mirugai (giant clam), Pickled Mustard Seed, Sweet Mustard Sauce, Herb “Caviar,” Watercress Puree – this was an incredible symphony on a plate – absolutely sensational

This box of eggs was then presented and set in the middle of the table as a centerpiece – a prelude to our next course

Araucana Hen’s Green Shell Egg “Ueva Da Raviolo” with Summer White Truffles, Hazelnuts, Brown Butter Sauce

Just look at that beautiful runny yolk – hopefully the photo conveys just how good this dish was

BYO Red Wine

Chicken being  presented

“Poulet Roti Grand Mer” – Slow roasted and flash smoked oraganic chicken breast, porcini mushrooms, Bulls-eye onions, ginko nuts and potato foam – this was the most succulent and tender chicken breast that I have ever eaten plus it was packed with flavor from the smoking which gave it a bacon taste. A+

Duo of American Kobe Beef – on the left New York Steak and on the right slow braised Short Ribs, confit eggplant, grilled spring garlic, Yuzu Kosho emulsion – absolutely delicious with perfect portion size

Cheese Course – Midnight Moon (goat), Portuguese Azetao (sheep), French Loupbergin (cow) with orange blossom honey and mostarda

Black Forest cake, chocolate and caramel cremeux, Austrian cake, port sautéed cherries, Kirsch whipped cream and cherry sorbet

This was an extraordinary culinary journey. I am totally wowed by Chef Yahagi’s passion, skill and dedication. I can’t wait to go back!

Vin Bar

What can I say except that this is a wonderful dining experience! Again, I urge everyone to go and just sit back and relax and let the Chef and Piero do their magic! I will let the pictures tell the story with the bottom line being that everything was terrific!

Eggplant and tomato terrine with basil and microgreens, dots of aged balsamic, basil oil and mixed berries sauce

First wine

Soft Shell Crab on a bed of mashed potatoes, avocado, fava beans, tomato confit with a sauce based on agrumato orange olive oil  – “Agrumato Oils come from an ancient tradition of the region of Abruzzo on the Adriatic Sea, East of Rome. First cold pressed under low pressure. Golden green with the aroma and flavor of oranges”

Second wine

Shrimp parmigiana, mozzarella, fresh tomato and basil

The two wines were tasted side by side as a comparison

Third wine

Fourth Wine

On the left – Burrata Cheese Tortellini on a bed of burrata cheese sauce, butter and sage —- On the right – mixed vegetable cannelloni (peas, corn, zucchini) with a lobster, tomato cream sauce

The tortellini up close

The cannelloni up close

Fifth Wine

Roasted quail wrapped in proscuitto, raschera (cow’s milk) cheese, marsala cheese with sage, sautéed spinach, olive oil

The olive oil used for the quail

Roasted pork on a bed of polenta topped with fennel, olive oil

Cheese Plate – Brillo, Toma Piemontese, Latur

What a meal, what a gracious host, what a chef – what more can one ask for!

Tar and Roses

We enjoyed Tar and Roses so much we couldn’t resist a repeat visit. It was just as good as the last time and I urge everyone to just go!

White wine from their list

Popped corn/crisp bacon, brown sugar, chili – to say my husband loves this is a massive understatement – this was his first batch – he ordered a second and probably would have ordered thirds if I had let him!

“Oysters Rockefeller” – ramps, bread crumbs, chili flakes, lemon zest, fennel pollen – a wonderful take on a classic dish

Soft Shell Crab, fava bean and corn salad, lemon vinaigrette – this was an A+ dish – the soft shells were executed to perfection and the fava bean and corn salad with avocado and roasted tomato strips was off the charts delicious. (I loved it so much I asked for a serving to go.)

Chicken oysters on a stick, tamarind – Just as good as the last time!

BYO Red Wine

Balsamic glazed ribs, chili, fried basil –  another addictive dish

Half the ribs demolished

Sweetbread Tostada, yellow foot mushroom, peppadew, ceci cake – an interesting take on sweetbreads

Braised lamb belly, minted apple chutney – again executed perfectly with a lovely flavor profile

Bone marrow, pickled onion marmalade, sea salt, sourdough bread – a great rendition of bone marrow

Chef Andrew Kirschner definitely has a winner with Tar and Roses and the neighborhood seems to agree as it was packed by 5:45.

Niche – St Louis

Refined Palate’s Roving Reporter spent the week in St. Louis…Niche Restaurant on Sidney Street was recommended by Christopher Hoel, sommelier at French Laundry who worked at Niche previous to TFL. He was kind enough to contact Chef Gerard Craft the owner/chef so they were well prepared for us.

Christopher Kelling, the GM, was also more than ready for us. We were assigned an excellent table and a very special server Abbie who has been with them for 6 years and is a God parent to one of the Chef Craft’s kids.  Nothing like being welcomed in style.

The meal definitely lived up to the recommendation. My friends are going back in 3 weeks for their 16th anniversary. That’s a win!

Spicy Nuts with our martinis

Egg shell with maple lemon custard, roasted shitaki mushrooms and bonito caviar…a new “egg” dish to enjoy although just the shell was used, no real egg involved.

Sancerre chosen because of really solid flavors on menu.

Lobster-pullman, celery, green apple, togarashi, brown butter hollandaise

Trout gravlax — rye, watercress, crème fraiche, smoked egg yolk, meyer lemon

Carrots Three Ways—orange-cumin, yogurt, espelette

The above photo is a combination of the above 3 appetizers. We decided to share as the appetizer portions were quite large and was a perfect way to have just a taste of each dish.  I am definitely of the Thomas Keller school of thought – the law of diminishing returns or as he says – “I want you to say “God, I wish I had just one more bite of that.”

Louisiana Crayfish—strawberry, radish, tapioca, cilantro—delicious bonus from the kitchen.

Lemon sorbet—delicious served in a shallow dish with a red center, we thought there was a sauce.

Red-chose young Burgundy from a good producer and a good value.

Fillet of Beef—potato, leeks, rosemary, whey

Pork Shoulder—popcorn polenta, verjus, coriander, daikon, walnuts, redgrapes—this sounds like a lot of “stuff” but it all worked.

Gruet New Mexico sparkler—a good choice with both dessert and cheese.

Cheese plate—local and creative. Bloomsdale, Camebert, Tombe all very nice

Vacherin—lemon, meringue, thyme, hickory, lavender

Carrot—custard, cream cheese ice cream, mint, white chocolate

All in all a terrific meal and a restaurant I strongly recommend if you are in St. Louis.


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