Let There be Blood!
Last evening Cindy, Amy, Jeff and I attended the last in the 2009 series of Seattle Chefs dinners at Crush Restaurant. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be our favorite of the series due to the challenging menu (as in eating critters, and parts of critters almost raw that are a little scary to many diners).
These dinners do provide the Chef's a chance to showcase menu items that would not sell well on their regular menus (for the reason noted above). This is basically a foodie/chef groupie type of event. For this reason alone, not to mention open mindedness trying things that are a little scary to you is a good thing. However, this was a little too much of a good thing all compressed into one menu.
The format for these dinners is kind of a big dinner party with an hour of bubbly and awesome nibbles provided by the host restaurant followed by a 3 hour 6 course meal at assigned tables. the layout and inclinations of each host restaurant means that this is handled different ways at each venue. At Crush the seating was pretty much by groups of folks who knew each other in a normal restaurant table layout - including the cocktail hour. Since we knew Jason Wilson's nibbles would be great we got there for the full cocktail hour . The bubbly and the 3 little treats were plentiful and very good. Gougres, a crisp pruscutto chip sandwiched between compressed apple and blue cheese, and a baby endive leaf with creme fraiche and steelhead roe. However an hour of this was kind of long. Having folks stand and mingle by not seating till 7pm would have been more fun - as it was at the other dinners.
ROVER’S- Thierry Rautureau, The Chef In The Hat!!!
Cured Salmon, Fennel Flan, Kushi Oysters, Chanterelle Salad, White Sturgeon Caviar.
This was 3 beautifully prepared items presents on a long , rectangular plate. Very beautiful presentation and each item quite tasty. However, the Oyster was (intentionally I assume) a little above room temperature which was offputting. Two of the 3 items were raw seafood - which was fine. Except of the Oyster temperature this was a wonderful dish.
TILTH – Maria Hines
Sylver Fishing Co. Spot Prawn Bisque with corn flan, scallion, prawn salpicon
This was by far the best savory dish of the evening. a wonderful fish and vegetable bisque. Really good.
HARVEST VINE – Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez
Tuna Belly in Vanilla clod of rice and jamon serrano popcorn
Three of the 4 diners at out table could not get down this dish. It was a very scary visual, aroma, texture. temperature, and taste. One taste each and Jeff then ate everyone else's so - like I said - it was challenging but to the right diner very good. It seemed raw but honestly I could not tell and chef' described a lot of cooking technique involved.
LARK – John Sundstrom
Squab Breast, sunchoke puree, sherry vinegar and truffled sunchoke chips.
This was a wonderfully prepared and melt in the mouth dish. Unfortunately, to all four of us it was essentially raw pigeon breast - fat on. It was just a very adventurous dish for our tastes. combined with the raw/oddly cooked seafood in 2 of the 3 preceding dish's we were getting a little queasy.
CAFE JUANITA – Holly Smith
Saddle of Oregon Lamb with Gnocchi di Semolina, toasted rosemary and taggia olives
This is the only dish I have ever been served (I I have been served quite a few) by Holly Smith that I didn't love. I am pretty sure there was a chiffinade of anchovy skin in this dish that was visually distracting and assertive tasting. The lamb was beautiful, very rare, but extremely "lamby" tasting which is not to any of our preferences. We all love lamb but prefer the butchering technique that leaves any silverskin and fat on the cutting board to avoid that strong taste associated with it. The toasted rosemary was also a problem as it was a little like eating splinters. (Sorry Holly - I idolize you - this just wasn't my dish).
CRUSH – Jason Wilson
Lemon Olive Oil Cake, Manni Per Mio Figlio, Cranberries & Creme Fraiche Sorbet.
Awesome! the cake was beautiful and delicious. the Sorbet waa a little too frozen so kind of jumped around the plate when you tried to cut into it with your spoon - but it was very good once you captured it.
I hope I don't sound too critical of this dinner. I am sure to many gourmets taste this was a perfect meal. Just the combination of the preparations in the courses compounded to be a little overly challenging to our group on this outing.