Cyrus meal in December
Sometimes, I feel as if I am bucking against the tide or I am unduly negative or maybe just plain contrary. But Cyrus generally underwhelmed me. I found the room out-of-place for a wine country restaurant – full of pretensions and trying too hard for sophistication.
Within seconds of being seated, the champagne and caviar cart is wheeled over. The hit of the evening was my “caviar purse” seen pictured on the box at the front. We decided to skip the caviar course as we had just indulged in quite a bit of oscetra at Christmas. We decided to have the full 9 course tasting menu.
With our champagne, a plate of bite-size appetizers arrives. A completely forgettable peeky toe crab salad with pomegranates and an excellent goat’s milk cheese and truffle dumpling.
The next amuse was poached lobster with celery root remoulade and blood orange glaze. This just didn’t have enough flavor.
Truffled Red Wine Risotto with Shaved White Truffles and Parmesan Reggiano Foam – this was the dish of the night, although much of the truffle flavor was from oil not the actual truffles.
Ahi Tuna Tartare with Celery Root, Portabellas and Watermelon Radish, Black Perigord Truffles and Soy Vinaigrette – This was in a word unpleasant. There was absolutely no balance of flavors, way too acidic, generally weird, the shredded portabellas threw everything off plus there was an overwhelming taste of truffle oil.
Seared Foie Gras with Toasted Chestnut and Sherry Soup – The foie with chestnuts is presented first and then the soup was poured on. The foie was excellent, although the chestnuts were soggy. The soup was horrible – thin with too much sherry added. I had served chestnut soup for Christmas and my husband declared my version 100 times better.
Langoustines with Cauliflower Cream, Crayfish and Uni – the langoustine was slightly overcooked, although the uni and crayfish was a nice addition. I wasn’t that taken with the cauliflower cream as I found it quite bitter.
Truffled Kurobota Pork Belly with Flagolets, Roast Fuji Apples, Trufffled Cipollini Onions, and Calvados – Again more is more with Chef Doug Keane – I wish he would edit his food. Both John and I made the comment that you always wish for one more bite with Keller and with Keane you wish there were fewer bites. Also, there were too many flagolets so that the balance of the dish was “off.”
While we were waiting for the meat course, the staff surprised us with a bowl mounded with glass rocks holding frozen lollipops made with Lemon Myrtle (similar to Verbena)
Red Wine Braised “Kobe” Beef Cheeks with Farro and Bloomsdale Spinach, Bordelaise Sauce – this would have been excellent, but the crispy farro threw the dish off. This seemed to be a running theme of Keane’s food – the main ingredient was excellent, but there always seemed to be one component that marred the whole.
Now, the cheese cart is wheeled over and it was superb. But I am at a loss to understand the way it was served. I chose my three cheeses and John chose a different three as we have very different likes and dislikes in cheese. However, we were served only one cheese plate.
Soda Pop Hibiscus Syrup – very sweet
Caramel Soup with Kettle Corn Sorbet and Chocolate Filigree – this was an absolute winner – The waiter brings a scoop of salty sorbet in a bowl, covered with a lacy filigree of chocolate and a pile of popcorn on top. He then pours on the hot caramel broth so that the chocolate net melts and collapses into the bowl. What’s not to love about salty popcorn, hot caramel and chocolate?
John – Champagne Caramel Custard and 5 Citrus
1. Meyer Lemon Cardamon Sorbet
2. Blood Orange Pate de Fruit
3. Kumquat Beignet
4. Ruby Grapefruit Curd
5. Key Lime Shortbread
I didn’t taste any of his dessert so I can’t give an accurate account.
The bottom line for me – Cyrus is not French Laundry or Manresa. The level of execution is just not there. The “dazzle” is more from the ambiance (if that is your cup of tea) than the plate. In point of fact, I could eat Keller’s and Kinch’s food on a picnic bench! Of course, I wonder why my reaction is so contrary to Bauer’s and other critics. I just felt that too many dishes needed editing and too many times, I wished for one less bite.