Wednesday, May 28, 2014

MARCEL's is truly magnificent for a major meal (5-22-14)

Last week, in culmination of my week-long birthday celebration(!) we headed to Marcel's ( for a preset tasting menu which is indeed still one of the finest fine dining establishments around town.
While Chef/Owner Robert Wiedmaier was nowhere to be seen, he leaves the team under the charge of Chef de Cuisine Peal Stearman, who never let a single element go wrong. So much of the staff have been here for
so many years, it is really like coming home. On arrival, there were hugs and kisses all around; we were in the best of hands for sure.
Jean-Pierre Legret Champagne was poured and we settled in for a long and pleasurable ride; one where truly every single dish and wine was delivered with great love. Our server, was a gem, and oh so cute to beat; he anticipated our every need. Maitre d' Adnane delivered each dish with a complete explanation and we always had wine in our glasses from Sommelier Moez. This is a team that has the cogs so well oiled, that everyone around us seemed just as happy as we were.
First came an amuse of LOBSTER FLAN with Truffle, Crème Fraiche & Chive. Chunks of the lobster tail were in each small bite making it an extra special and indeed orgasmic treat.
Pan Seared SCALLOPS arrived next cooked to perfection with Pistachio/Ramp Pesto, Hazelnuts, little edible flowers and Pommes Pailles (tiny waiflets of fried potatoes). I had just made my frist Ramp Pesto at home earlier that week and was amazed at how brilliantly this short-lived spring veggie has such a great flavor equal to the garlic-basil combo normally used. I used pine nuts, but here pistachios gave even more depth. Moez presented a 20013 Fuente Milano Spanish wine from Verdejo & Viura grapes that was filled with huge flavors in the mouth. It was ideal with the scallop and pesto; we all could not recall a more perfect match. Our sever (I think his name was Tim)returned with black olive bread, whole wheat and French rolls with three butters: Curry, Sweet Cream & Truffle. The curry was the most exciting, but we devoured them all....
On arrival we noticed soft shell crabs on the menu and put in our bids for these BEER BATTERED SOFT SHELLS with Mayo/Avocado wrapped in cucumber, Tomato chutney and espalette peppers. There was a bite in the sauce from Cherry Vinegar, thyme and black pepper. The wine had been subtly switched to Philipps Eckstein Riesling 2010 from Mosel "Summer Dream" which was a mostly dry Riesling that again paired wonderfully with the spices of the dish. I was very happy with my first Chesapeake Soft Shells of the season and can't wait for more!!
A super-light Alsatian Pinot Noir came next from Jean Siegler 2011 "Clos des Terres Brunes" which lingered on the tongue deliciously as the acidity grew a bit! Paired with a PAIR of BOUDIN BLANC/BOUDIN NOIR with Squid Ink side by side in Black Mushroom Puree and Celery Root Puree. The magnificent combination of chicken breast, pheasant breast and foie gras makes this one of the truly NOT TO BE MISSED dishes in DC!
The Lagiuole knives arrived so we knew meat was coming and we were getting full, but the team somehow knew this and presented a perfect size portion of Crusted BISON with Smoked Blueberries, Carrot Puree, Haricots Verts and Red Wine reduction. The meat was perfect and nobody left a bite. The once again ideal wine was a full bodied Cotes du Rhones "Les Quatres Terres" 2011 from Domaine Santa Duc.
You know me when cheese calls, I come a running and this night was truly special with EPOISSES running across our plates in a superb oozy form with honey, apple, raisin and espalette pepper. DEEEVINE!
The wine was a Muscat de Baumes de Venise 2011 Don de Beaumalric that was simply superb.
I would have been happy here, but the birthday requires a candled dessert, so it was a Blueberry Cheesecake with Blackberry Sauce, Caramel Sauce, White Chocolate, Passion Fruit and a Lemon Sorbet with edible peel. It was refreshing, yet light and truly the ideal dessert. Mas Amiel 2010 Late Harvest Grenache from Languedoc is a nice wine, but it's not my favorite, yet it was a good pairing.
It was indeed a night of superb pairings, excellent food, wondrous service and a true example of what great dining should be. It was good to be back "home."

Monday, May 19, 2014

DGS Delicatessen in DC- a deli that gets stars; go for the damn good service as well as the food (5-18-14)

My birthday continued with dinner out after the Gay Men's Chorus Concert yesterday and I chose DGS Deli ( at Dupont Circle where I have wanted to go since they opened
about a year ago. It was a great choice and kudos to our server Lillie who should win a prize for best server in DC!
We made our way upstairs and the only thing we ended up not liking all night were the not too comfy steel chairs or wooden booths. We heard a makeover is coming soon. YAY!
Lillie explained that the Tenth Ward Cooler on the Cocktail Menu was named for a no-loner-existing ward in DC that was once largely Jewish. It is Bison Grass Vodka, Kummel (a caraway/cumin liquor), Cel-Ray Soda, Lime & Celery Bitters.
This refreshing drink is a winner and you can taste so many wonderful elements, but it is a potent martini, even if served on the rocks.
Again we shared starters and the winner was easily the CHOPPED LIVER with Red Onion Marmalade, Gribenes and Rye Toast. It was a huge mound topped with the yummy marmalade and the gribenes (fried chicken skins) were propped up around it for dipping or schmearing. The liver on these was the highlight of the meal for me, although the amazing breads also work well. SMOKED SALMON NACHOS are in layers of thin tasty smoked salmon with some sour cream, avocado, horsey sauce (A creamy horseradish sauce) and lots of home made waffle potato chips for dipping. The pickles are nice and very varied with fennel, beets, and even a pickled egg in the assortment.
Another big hit and easily enough for one main course is SCHMUTZY FRIED made with pastrami, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese & Russian Dressing. This reminds me of the poutine, but married to a Jew who does not keep kosher.
Flavor abounded in this dish, but don't try to eat it without a fork. The BORSCHT came with a dollop of sour cream and was thick and rich and cooling.
Samuel ordered the GNOCCHI MAC & CHEESE which is actually a decadent side dish of ricotta gnocchi in a rich cheese sauce with rye bread crumbs that arrived in a hot cast iron pan. He asked for the harissa on the side and I liked it, but he probably would never have finished half the rich dish; he then asked for a small kid's burger! He loved the Dr. Brown's Cream Soda, but I convined him to try the Chocolate Egg Cream made with U-Bet Syrup which he also loved.
Our first wine was a refreshing bottle of Fantinel Rose Prosecco and then we had a superb "Urban TEMPRANILLO from Fournier 2010 in Ribera de Duero that was excellent with all the deli meats. Lille suggested it from the very short wine list and I have to say, I will order it again and again at $30-something.
For vegetarians there are several options including one fish dish besides the smoked salmons, but out friend chose the GRILLED EGGPLANT REUBEN with Swiss Cheese, No. 1 Sons Sauerkraut and Russian Dressing on Toasted Rye which she declared excellent.
Will had Grandma Dots HOLISHKES or stuffed cabbage with ground brisket simmered in S&S Tomato Sauce on Orzo with Rye Bread Crumbs. He managed to finsh most of it, but I think I'll get a taste later this week :-)).
Our friends chose the SMORGASBOARD which is really one of the best choices as you can get three or five items for $18 or $25 respectively(I think). They chose Pastrami Smoked Salmon, Whitefish Salad, Grilled Tongue, Corned Beef and these all come with condiments and the excellent double baked rye and pumpernickel breads.
A side of Crispy BRUSSELS SPROUTS also has roasted grapes (yes) and caramelized shallots, which is another dish I would order again and again. My main course was a sandwich made from 1/2 pound (total meat-1/4 pound each) of the Housemade Corned Beef from Creekstone Farms Brisket and Grilled Tongue with House Made Mustard on the double baked Rye. I manged to finish the second half of the sandwich for lunch today! Both meats were superb, but I am a tongue guy and this was cut thick and grilled perfectly,; a very different take on the traditional thin sliced deli tongue we know.
Lillie recited the desserts and we were all full with big bags to take home with leftovers, but I could not resist the CHOCOLATE BABKA BREAD PUDDING with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and it was a hit as we all (save Sam) tried this decadent dish made from challa and chocolate. My birthday candle came in a complimentary piece of Cheesecake with Rhubarb Compote (also yummy) as I had mentioned to Lillie that I prefer fruit desserts to heavy ones.  She brought the next best thing; cheesecake with compote!
We thanked her and the staff many times as everyone was so nice and waddled home for the second night in a row.
Tonight-at home!

revving it up at REDSTONE at National Harbor, MD (5-17-14)

On Saturday night my birthday celebration started with an invite from our dearest friends to dinner. Little did we know we were going to the barely two-week old REDSTON American Grill at National Harbor.
( I had never heard of Redstone and the General Manager (who greeted our hosts like old friends) explained that they are a Minnesota chain that is expanding, especially in this area.
There was a person in the lobby explaining that seating was limited and long waits might be the case as the bar was jammed and even though it was in the low 60's at sunset, the outside bar patio was heaving.
We were seated along the floor to ceiling window overlooking the river and the new ferris wheel that is slated to open next week. As the sun set the place filled up and we were lucky to be in this quiet section. There are wooden
tables and slate floors, so when full, there is nothing to absorb the din.
Our charming server Steve had served our hosts before and he explained everything very clearly and carefully. The menu is large, but simplified and not overwhelming. The only thing I would seek, might be more wine choices.
When we walked by the bar I noticed large glass containers on the bar with what looked like polenta in liquid. Well, I knew my eyesight was getting worse when Steve explained that its pineapple in vodka! I ordered one of these martini-style, but it was my least favorite thing all night. The drink tastes like watered down pineapple juice that packs a punch. Back to the straight vodka next time. I even tasted the strawberry version later on in the evening and that was way too sweet for me.
Our first wine was a superb Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay from Santa Lucia Highlands which came in a silvery bottle reminiscent of Lancer's; weird.
It paired wonderfully with our huge array of starters: Seared Ahi Tuna which comes super rare with a sesame seed and black pepper crust with Asian slaw(with edamame, peppers and cabbage), wasabi and soy-lime sauce. It was a main course dish with about a dozen slice of sushi-grade tuna and superbly presented and very flavorful.
Rotisserie Chicken FLATBREAD comes with roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, wild mushrooms, truffle oil and fresh basil. We had seen the gorgeous birds in their rotation nearby and had to try them, so we opted for this preparation which is another huge portion easily a main course.
Lodge CORNBREAD seems to be a specialty here and Steve did try to sell us on a whole loaf, but we went for the basic wedge so we could each taste. It was as moist as cornbread ever gets and oh so buttery, but even better with the maple butter that comes on the side, which was thankfully not too sweet.
The best starter was easily the BUFFALO JUMBO SHRIMP which come fried or grilled (we chose grilled) with a buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing. I asked Steve which part of the buffalo they came from! His response was even funnier, but I forgot what he said!
We moved on to a superb PAUL HOBBS BRAMARE 2011 by Vina Cobos made in the Argentine region of Lujan de Cuyo which had aromas of crushed berries and coffee with superb smooth tannins. I adored this wine made by three famous winemakers, Hobbs with Andrea Marchiori and Luis Barraud and would love to taste it again in 2 years!
Main courses excel here as did my Pesto Crusted HALIBUT with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Garlic Spinach, Crispy Fried Leeks and an excellent yet mild Thai chili beurre blanc. While I've been unsuccessfully trying to cut back on carbs, the only bad part of this dish (to my pleasure) was that the fish was atop the spinach and potatoes, so the potatoes were very mushy and soggy and I skipped them totally (yay!). Seared CRAB CAKES were excellent and served with Tomato Corn Salad, Sriracha Aioli and a side of Old Bay Fries (these I tasted and could not resist). A grilled lemon comes with them making the flavor burst even more, but I have to be honest that we are a crabcake city and while these were good, each year's AIWF crabcake competition (this years is next month) by the AIWF would set up some steep bidding against these.
If your head to Redstone, it might be tough to decide between the rotiserrie chicken and the ribs in which case you can order the COMBO with half of each! The chicken comes classic (au jus) or barbeque and is slow cooked in a woodfired rotisserie.
Steaks also abound here, but we all wanted to try the specialties as there is so much steak all over DC.
Since it was my birthday(almost), I got a Deconstructed BANANA CREAM PIE (I didn't order anything!) with toasted nut crust, banana custard, bananas, and whipped cream with a huge sparkler in it. I was warned not to blow on it, as it would get bigger! OOPS! The KEY LIME PIE was nice but it was as big as Will's head and its crust is made of graham cracker and almond, a nice change. The hit dessert was the Warm CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE SUNDAE with Ice Cream, Candied Pecans and Chocolate Fudge Sauce. The cookie was baked into the pan and crispy and gooey and oh so yummy.
Well, I rolled out the door and while I'm sure we'll be back, next time I'm ordering much less for sure. We actually all had huge take home bags and they will last quite a while I am sure.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

f you have to blow the buck, blow it at BLT STEAK (5-14-14)

I was invited to an intimate travel luncheon for 8 and yesterday went to BLT Steak for the first time only to be impressed a lot, save for the NOISE. ( I was actually invited to the opening of uber chef Laurent Tourandel's  first DC location and could not make it; it's a shame it took me years to get there.
Our hostess offered up ORCHID Cocktails created for her company (Orchid Hotels) which were champagne, a splash of Chambord, Saint-Germain and whatever the local bartender chooses, as she likes to say. They were oh so refreshing in the heat. Bread here is a course in itself as the huge GRUYERE POPOVERS arrive to the table steaming hot with a load of butter on the side. These have to big almost as big as my head and easily would fill anyone up, so be sure to try one, but split it with a friend!
She graciously ordered up way too many starters including the plum juicy SHRIMP COCKTAIL with huge shrimp, the so-so TUNA TARTARE with potato gaufrettes, which some of the others at the table said was the best they ever had (they never had mine)., quite tasty CRABCAKES and my first SOFTSHELL CRAB of the season which was cornbread battered with Bacon Marmalade and Dandelion Greens-YUM!
For my main I knew I was in a meat place and while everyone else order gorgeous fish plates from the magnificent LOBSTER COBB salad to Crabcakes, Tuna Salad, etc. I went for the KOBE BURGER with Fried Egg, Pastrami and Cheddar Cheese. I pulled away most of the bun and adored the meat and the pastrami as the egg oozed over my medium-rare to rare perfectly cooked Kobe beef treat. It came with fries, which were not indicated, so I ate some, but our hostess had ordered so many sides, I left most of the fries to enjoy these treats. She ordered fries as well, which went untouched on the table, but the beautiful ONION RINGS were devoured quickly. PEAS & CARROTS here are English peas and heirloom carrots with Yogurt And Nori, worthy of any fine dining veggie plate, but it was the Simply Grilled FRESH RAMPS that sent me to heaven. The one thing I did not get was the Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes which I thought were mashed peas at first due to the color. They were tasty, but won no award.
I was so full that I couldn't even think of dessert and waddled out knowing I could not face the gym that day. All I had for dinner was a salad!
There were oh so many yummy treats on the menu that I know I will return here to try some and not to miss those POPOVERS!


Falls Church's ORSO always makes an impression (5-10-14)

Saturday night we headed to Falls Church, Virginia again for our local theater jaunt to Creative Cauldron. We always head next door to Pizzeria ORSO(, which is indeed so much more than a pizzeria. Chef Will Artley hovers in front of the 900degree oven, but I was so shocked to see so much less of him as he told me he has lost over 120 pounds! (I'm going to talk to him about that).
Samuel asked for an order of the housemade grilled sourdough with BASIL AIOLI and he would have finished it all had we let him. He was the only one to order pizza and chose the DIAVOLO with Tomato, Pepperoni, Mozzarella and the love for all the fresh ingredients that each dish has.
I started with the BABY BEET & CARROT salad which sounds simple, but here there are loads of beets, whipped Chevre, Arugula & Greens, Pomagranate Molasses and Carrot Vinaigrette, which is an amazing dressing that I need to try and recreate! Will had the BURRATA Special which came with Prosciutto di Parma, a puff pizza-like bread, arugula and RAMP pesto (which I actually managed to recreate for dinner tonight on our grilled tuna and salmon!). A bottle of BRICCO dei TATI Dolcetto d'Alba 2012 was superb with everything we had.
Next, Will chose the Orichiette with LAMB RAGU which was excellent, but I felt vegetarian adventurous and tried a half portion of the Spring CORN AGNOLOTTI with Sautéed Eggplant, Pea Sauce and Sundried Tomatoes. This was a spring pasta dish using fresh corn and fresh peas and well, everything so fresh, that I just wanted more and more. My main course was a small portion of SEARED SCALLOPS with Couscous Risotto, Tomato Jam & Basil Aioli that also used so many wonderful fresh ingredients for such huge amazing flavors.
We shared a side dish of CRISPY BRUSSEL HEARTS which were Brussels Sprouts with Truffled Maple Bacon, Pear & Celery Root Puree--who would ever think this one up and BOY was it superb.
Since I had two small plates, Will ordered the TIRAMISU for dessert which was cake with coffee whipped cream and a crispy finger cookie that I had a small taste of. I love Tiramisu, but I was just so high on the local fresh veggies that I didn't want anything else.
Okay-so we ate too much and I did promise to call Chef Will about his nutritionist wife for weight loss suggestions!

Monday, May 05, 2014

When in Ft Worth WATERS (Bonnell's Coastal Cuisine) is worth the visit (5-4-14)

On my last night in Ft. Worth I had so many choices, but last year had missed the newly opened WATERS, Bonnell's Coastal Cuisine, where local chef John Bonnell had opened his new seafood restaurant just west of downtown ( right before my last visit a year ago. I had loved his main restaurant, Bonnell's, where meat reigns and on a 95+ degree day, seafood seemed to beckon.
The West 7th Street District has blossomed over the last several years and even though it can get crowded there is complimentary valet parking to ease the pain.
I eased through the huge doors of the tall-ceilinged restaurant to a large reception area. To the right was along bar and lounge area much like a hotel lobby. To the right was the dining room with crisp white linens, black leather chairs, gray carpet to cut the noise and a huge bar and raw bar as well, with seating at both. Above the raw bar was a large black mirror so those seated nearby can look and see what's going on behind the counter.  Nearby sands a tall central square column which is filled with oyster shells to the ceiling and along the front wall of floor to ceiling windows are gray suede booths and banquets. Above the tables is a mobile sculpture that stretches across the room with steel cut "fish" which seem to be in a huge school swimming across the room. There are also fish lines with lures and weights to keep the work from moving too much. Overall this gives a light airy feel and while the dining room is classy, it never feels too formal. On Sunday it was dead with no more than 6 or 7 tables occupied in the large room.
My server Scott recommended the Cooper Mountain Vineyard 2012 Cooper Hill Pinot Gris from Oregon's Willamette Valley (over the Rainstorm Pinot Gris, also from Oregon, which he declared to be "watered down"). It was a superb wine with huge white peach overtones and according to Scott lemon blossom aroma. I ordered 2 each of 3 Massachusetts oysters (Wianno from Barnstable Harbor, Onset from Buzzard's Bay and Summerside from Cape Cod). The Wianno were buttery and less exciting than the others and I adored the Summerside which were creamy and plump!
These came with not only cocktail sauce and mignonette, but a serrano spicy vinegar mignonette that I mixed with some cocktail sauce afterwards and spread on the French bread which is served in a baguette bag with butter speckled with Black Hawaiian sea salt
I listened to Scott and ordered a small CAESAR Salad which comes with a superb Smoked Oyster Caesar dressing and topped with one tasty smoked oyster. Sadly, this was the only good thing about this salad as the croutons were soggy and the romaine was utterly limp. I think this plate had been in the fridge at least a day and while Kevin apologized, I was still charged for this attempt at a salad.
Next came Scott's better choice, SPICY YELLOWFIN TACOS which are three crunchy tacos propped up vertically on the plate by gooey rice underneath and topped with Mango Pico de Gallo, Jicama Slaw, Wasabi Creme Fraiche and a wonderfully peppery Micro Cilantro. They were a bit messy, but boy were they bursting with flavor, Texas style...and the three tacos were indeed very filling.
I waited a while before my main course and Scott was very conscious of not serving too fast and asking when I was ready. I wished there was a tasting menu, but the main course offered the next best thing:
The "I Can' Decide" SEAFOOD TRIO which is comprised of 2 ounces each of the three fish main courses that seem to be always on the menu:
Mesquite Grilled Arctic CHAR was superb over piles of green and yellow zucchini ribbons, Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and a Caper Beurre Blanc that was delish.
Tortilla Crusted Idaho Rainbow TROUT came with a "Southwest Style" Tomato Sauce, Avocado, Slaw, Pickled and Cooked Baby Carrots, Celery, White & Purple Fingerling Potatoes, Cipollini Onions and an occasional jalapeno slice.
Creole Seared Black DRUM FISH was a yummy Red Fish almost like blackened fish here with Andouille Sausage & Stewed Tomato Sauce with Okra and Haricots Verts.
All three were superb, but I think the sauce and seasoning on the Drum Fish made it the best of the three.
I really was full and did not want dessert, but three folks at the next table came over to ask what I had to eat and they ended up sitting down and we talked for ages. One woman and her college freshman son were clearly your not standard Texas democrats. He had been accepted at many schools including Georgetown, which was his first choice, but they could not afford the sky high tuition so he is at TCU (Texas Christian), and he is applying again this year for financial aid.
Anyway, Scott convinced me to order the CHOCOLATE GANACHE TART with Booze-Infuse BERRIES; it was the berries that attracted me as I am not a chocoholic.
The tart was superb, but I only ate 1/3 wishing I could bring the rest back home for Samuel who would have adored the intense dark chocolate, but  alas he is away for 3 days on a school camping trip. The Grand Marnier/Rum berries were a big hit for sure.
My almost annual trip to Ft. Worth is over, but I hope to get back next year for more fab food.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Ft. Worth's GRACE is always gorgeous (5-3-14)

Last night, before the opera, I was treated to dinner by the director of the opera who has been a dear friend of mine for nearly 30 years. I've been to GRACE before ( and it's always special with Darren as everyone greets him from the owners to the bus boys, and he is always schmoozing with opera patrons, as well as being approached by folks to congratulate him on the amazing job he has done here in Ft. Worth. I would head to Grace no matter what, but to be there with one of Ft. Worth's "rock stars" is truly a treat.
I saw several new dishes on the menu and was immediately attracted to them. North Dakota BISON TARTARE with charred onion, quail egg, pickled teeny mushrooms, and pecorino cheese was a delicate plate with superb, yet subtle flavors. I asked our server Tyler which wine he recommended (by the way, anyone would be attracted to him as well as the dishes on the menu!!) and he suggested a smooth and bold Les Cadrans de Lessegue 2010 St Emilion Merlot from Bordeaux that was ideal.  The beautiful soft warm sourdough puffs of bread arrived with irresistible butter topped with sea salt.
I also tasted Darren's superb KONA KAMPACHI with American caviar, yuzu, and white soy, but since I had had this previously, I knew it was delicious, but not too large. It's probably the lightest dish on the menu, perhaps even in town!
For main courses Darren ordered the simple Meyer Ranch FILET with horseradish sauce which also comes with a gorgeous head of roasted garlic. It's a  great steak, but I could not resist the ingenuity of the just on the menu "PASTRAMI on RYE" which is a gorgeous presentation of Smoked BEEF CHEEKS with mustard seed slaw, Brazos Valley Gouda and a Rye crumble on top. It was, as Texas is, a large but amazingly exciting and tasty portion loaded with flavors that impressed and filled my palate; Darren agreed. I chose the Emilio Moro 2010 Tempranillo from Ribera de Duero in Spain which was a perfect pairing as well, recommended by the sommelier.
We bypassed dessert to head to the opera and still more people were approaching with praise. How nice to have a great meal and be here at this superb festival with a very special friend.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

be sure to fill up in Ft. Worth (Texas) at the BIRD CAFE (5-2-14)

On my first night in Ft. Worth for the annual opera festival here I dined with a client at the recently opened BIRD CAFE ( just across from the Bass Hall (where the opera is) and we both fell in love with the wonderful and inventive plates to share as well as the friendly ambiance.
There is the paper on the table that I can always do without, but they have nice linens and great service; so I overlooked the white paper.
I saw one of my favorite winemakers on the list and ordered a glass of NOVY Blanc de Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley that was a superb dry white that went well with so may dishes. Our super server Tamara was oh so helpful in narrowing down the many choices.
We started with the Roasted BEET Salad with both purple and golden beets, chevre, ample greens and yummy Blackland Texas Honey.
Next came PIG & FIG which boasted beautifully crispy pork belly, Point Reyes Bleu Cheese, Golden Grits, Figs & BBQ sauce. The grits, it was explained, come from a West Texas homestead (no electricity) and are stone ground. The entire concoction was to die for.
I moved to a La Tarasque Cotes du Rhone 2010 Grenache as I liked that much more than the Heinrich Red mix of Zweigelt/Blaufrankisch from Wagram, Germany that Tamara let me taste.
Texas QUAIL was griddled and served over red cabbage with sweet potato corn bread. These little birds are as local as you can get and are always a treat.
COLLARD GREENS came with a dash of chili vinegar for spice with braised ham hocks over a traditional corn bread. This non-vegetarian veggie dish would turn any vegetarian in a sec.
We had seen a dish on the menu called MOTH BALLS, but our friend Darren who runs the opera had come over to say hi and warned us they were very rich.
Tamara was such a doll as she brought out two of these tasty decadent treats which are listed on the menu as a shout out to the Spotted Pig of NYC. They are ricotta filled pasta balls in a rich creamy parmesan sauce with EVOO, love and fried sage leaves. One ball, and you are full.
Our last choice was BANGERS & MASH as my guest was from the UK. Well, this is Texas style with a Cheddar Jalapeno Elk Sausage and another Wild Boar Sausage and a Dijon style and grain-style mustard, both of which packed a punch. These sat over a sweet potato-based mash of root vegetables that was good, but oh so not English. There was sauerkraut that was sublime and the whole dish was topped with tons of fried root veggie chips. WOW..I took a  picture it was so pretty.
For dessert the French press coffees are fab, and we shared an okay PAVLOVA with excellent meringue, some whipped cream, a very rich Valrhona chocolate mousse and hazelnut crunch. It was just too rich for me after all the rich and involved dishes.
I know that BIRD CAFE is going to be a big hit in this town, and I'll be back for sure....