I hate to say that this is a review. But I guess it is a blogger’s review of Mio. Mio over the last eight months has had a crazy history, which I alluded to in my Weekly Feed. Three different chefs, one of them quite young and inexperienced, is not an easy time. I’ve had meals when two of them, Ryan Wheeler and owner Miguel Iguina, were in the kitchen. I won’t mention previous transgressions now that Stephano Frigerio and Nick Fragelli from Maestro are having fun in the kitchen. I visited the fifth week of their venture and had the duo of lamb sirloin and leg of lamb. It was rather beefy tasting, and very juicy. The leg of lamb had a great seared crust on it that was delicious. Unfortunately, my boss had fried catfish that he mentioned as “the worst he’d ever had” and “Mrs. Paul’s would have been better.” But we were taken out so he couldn’t say anything about it.
Luckily another visit turned out better and more consistent. We started off with an amuse – which was likely a result of my dining companion who knows the owner. They were great little cornets with a chived, but neutral cheese with a salty dollop on top that reminded me of caviar. The cornet on the outside was sweet. This amuse reminded me a lot of the salmon tartare amuse at The French Laundry. Separately the salty dollop was excessively strong, but as one bite with the cheese and cornet it was a slightly sweet and mostly salty combination of happiness in the mouth. It was fantastic. Continue reading
New restaurants are a curious thing. It is always an interesting experience to visit a restaurant the first week, although one that is usually filled with strange service and menu items that quickly disappear – often to your disappointment. A new restaurant may struggle to find its identity as its customers may have different things in mind than the management. This was definitely the case with Proof. In my opinion, almost anyone would think that it is first a wine bar and then a restaurant. But according to my friend, a server at the restaurant, the management believed that it was first a restaurant and then a wine bar. Accordingly, they did not hire a cocktail waitress, which led to massive problems in the bar area. So obviously returning a few months later, the crowds had died down slightly and they had worked out those kinks.
But it does bring me to an important point – Proof is trying far more to be a restaurant with a big wine selection than a wine bar.
More than just some charcuterie, and an enormous menu managed by Haidar Karoum, the food is far above just some small noshy items. In the early days, they would initially bring out some white bean puree with awesome flatbreads instead of a bread basket. I am sorry they have discontinued this practice, but my guess is that it was cost-prohibitive because I imagine people asked for multiple rounds.
They have a by-the-glass tasting system with an Enomatic machine. This allows the wines to be stored at the proper temperature, and provides measured pours. I wish I could speak more effectively about their wine list, but it is very extensive and offers a lot of choice. I ordered the Villard viognier, which I believe is a pretty girly wine. But it has some very lovely tropical hints to it, and made me very happy. Continue reading
My friends and I have started a sort of… dining club, as much as I can describe it. The goal is to visit a really nice restaurant once every two months or so. Our first restaurant visit was to the Bistro at Restaurant Eve. My friend N. did a really nice job of describing a number of things on DR.com. Definitely in a way that would be far more poetic than my prose. I would say that this visit set the bar extremely high for our future restaurant visits, and we’re not quite sure where to move on from here.
The evening started off in the bar with a gin and tonic with housemade tonic and Citadelle. It came with the curliest lime zest I have ever seen. In the narrow glass floated a solitary square ice cube that would just fit into the glass. Great gin without the scent of rubbing alcohol or Pine-Sol.
By the way, as usual I didn’t use flash in these pictures. I don’t want to be THAT jerk, unlike the folks at a table behind us. So that is why they’re a little blurry. Continue reading
Finally decided to sit down and describe my food from The French Laundry. It was interesting that everything had an art deco style – signage, serving platters and plates. These are just some impressions, but I am struggling to recount my meal. I think the perspective is also very different now that I look back on it.
Salmon tartare with creme fraiche with red onion wrapped in black sesame seed tuile
Wow. The tartare was smooth and buttery and the creme fraiche was creamy and cool as well. A soft little crunch to the tuile, it was definitely an amuse that had me craving more. As my friend J said, “Mmm… meat on a cone!” Continue reading
It’s challenging to begin even writing about a dining institution like The French Laundry. In the past few years, TFL has quickly become an institution that is very much admired. As the flagship of the Thomas Keller empire, I would suspect that it is also the best place by which to judge his philosophies. Keller was not there the day that we dined there, but if he is a truly great chef that shouldn’t make much of a difference.
I’ve been very fortunate this year to have had the chance to dine at Alinea, the restaurant of his protege, Grant Achatz. I approached this meal with some concerns about whether it would live up to the amazing experience that I had at Alinea. And with a hefty price tag of $240, I was definitely skittish.
Ordinarily, the reservation process is complicated and a PIA waiting on hold. Fortunately my friend M’s sister is the reservationist. I knew I would be heading out to the Bay Area for a friend’s wedding so we decided that we would take the plunge and get a reservation with plenty of time to spare. And just so you know… no I can’t help you score a reservation, and bribing her will not work. She’s a strict cookie. Not to mention generous…