Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Harvest Vine - Seattle Chef's Dinner Series

Last night Jeff, his college roommate Murray, Rick Wallace, and I went on a "man-date" to the Seattle Chef's Table dinner at The Harvest Vine. Six of Seattle's best Chef Owners. A great time was had by all and it was a fabulous dinner. One of our servers was was Nancy Leson - Seattle Times Food Critic which was also kind of neat. As soon as I figure out how to transfer them from my cell phone I will add some pictures to this post. The menu follows but let me say a few words first. The evening started with an hour of convivial Hors d"oeuvres and Cava presented by the host Restaurant in extremely generous proportions. Since Harvest Vine is essentially a Tapas Restaurant this was quite enjoyable; Let me just say Iberico Ham YUM! Also the Foie Gras bonbon's covered with rice krispies on a stick were cute, very tasty and will be added to my personal repertoire.

The six course meal - each conceived and prepared by one of the six Chef's (with lots of camaraderie and help from each other and their sous chefs) was totally awesome. There was the option of either a 4 or 6 flight wine pairing. The Wines were all excellent especially the final wine a 1979 Don PX Bogegas toro Albala Sweet Port. the others in order were a 2006 Martin Coday Albarino Rias Baixas 2006, a Torres Muscato Esmeraldo 2007, a Lorinoh Rioja 2004, a Casal Nove Godilo 07, a Celeste Tempernillo, and the Port.

Seattle Chefs Table 2009

Tuesday April 14

Hors d’Oeuvres, Cava and pinot sherry
HARVEST VINE – Joseba Jimenez de Jiminez
Prawn croquettes, Iberico Ham with baguette slices, and bonbon d’foie gras with rice crisps. YUM, YUM, and YUM!

LARK – John Sundstrom
Geoduck ceviche with wild watercress, radish and Bergamot lime oil. A surprisingly (to me at least as Geoduck doesn't sound so wonderful) beautiful, tasty, and tender cervich "salad" which was eaten to the last bite by everyone.

CAFE JUANITA – Holly Smith
Guinea Fowl and Foie Gras Tortellini en Ginger Brodo. This was by far the simplest and either the best or second best dish of the evening. A half dozen perfect, handmade tortellini stuffed with Guineas Fowl and Foie Gras swimming in a wonderful "double stock" of fowl and rabbit stocks that was infused at the last minute with a grating of Ginger root. WOW!

CRUSH – Jason Wilson
Hawaiian Mero Sea Bass, Sweetbreads, Preserved Lemon, Vadouvan & Ramps. this was the other really standout dish - Jason famous for his meat dish's is a genius with seafood. The vadouvan is a French version (mild as the French are dreadfully afraid of hot spices) of curry sauce. Everything about this complex put together dish was both beautiful, perfectly prepared, and delicious - perhaps the best fish dish I have ever been served.

ROVER’S - Thierry Rautureau, The Chef In The Hat!!!
Smoked Goose and Foie Gras, Parsnip, Beet and Coriander Nage. A very, intense and flavorful broth with smoked goose breast slices topped with two huge slabs of melt in your mouth seared Foie Gras - wonderful beets in the broth as well. Really good.

TILTH – Maria Hines
Grass Fed Lamb Loin, chick pea cake, Nicoise olive. a simple 3 ingredient tiered, vertical dish - not my favorite as the olives were a bit "olivey" for me - and vertical is not my favorite presentation as it is hard to eat. However, as I worked my way thru the dish it kept growing on me until I noticed I had cleaned (and I mean not necessary to go thru the dishwasher) my plate.

HARVEST VINE – Joseba Jimenez de Jimenez
Dessert Gateau Basque of black cherries and foie with tiger nuts ice cream. A very nice, flaky (I assume the foie gras was the "meat butter") buttery almond cookie served with a very nutty flavored but smooth tiger nut ( a tuber not a nut) ice cream.

It was a great dinner - Can't wait for the next one at Lark next month.

I will definitely be returning to The Harvest Vine as well - of the 6 Restaurants participating I have been to each at least 5 times but this was my first time at Harvest Vine.

Harvest Vine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Old Reliable - Stone Park Cafe

Restaurant Name: Stone Park Cafe

Location: 324 5th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn

My husband and I have eaten at Stone Park Cafe a number of times now and I find that our experiences there are falling into a clearly identifiable pattern.

Stone Park is just so....reliable.

Here's what we've found to expect:

1. Something will inevitably go awry with the service. I don't mean to imply that the service is bad, inattentive, or even indifferent. Instead, it seems that out of earnest, well-meaning actions, something inevitably goes haywire. On our most recent visit, the person working our table switched halfway through the meal (for no apparent reason). After taking away our entree plates, the waiter put down a new set of silverware and disappeared. After fifteen minutes of waiting, we finally waved him down to request dessert menus. He was aghast - he had thought we were waiting on another course we had already ordered. Totally typical of this place.

2. 90% of the food you order will be very good - nice, tasty, hot, fresh...but nothing spectacular, nothing truly memorable. 10% of the food will provide you with a delightful, unexpected brush with greatness. On our most recent visit we had a flavorful (but certainly not transcendent) burger, an inventively-conceived but only moderately well-executed "Knuckle Sandwich" (lobster knuckles served as a mini-burger/slider), a perfectly average piece of cheesecake and THE MOST fabulous, fresh salad of raw shaved Brussels sprouts tossed in a lemony, lightly mustard-y dressing with tiny knobs of parmiggiano cheese. The salad was simply out of this world. This is classic Stone Park.

So, if you're looking for a reliable meal with one or two hidden gems lurking behind plates of "just fine".....head down 5th avenue towards the park!

Bon Appetit!
Stone Park Cafe on Urbanspoon