by Lee Stabert
We knew we'd be getting four courses with subsequent wine pairings, but I didn't know if it would be more of a tasting. Hear me, these were full pours. If you're the type of person who likes to drink a lot of wine with dinner (hello!) then this $40 fixed-price menu was quite the deal. I don't know anywhere where you can get four courses and four (delightful) glasses of wine for that kind of value.
Now on to the food.
The first course brought a shallow bowl cradling goat cheese raviolini paired with finely chopped portabello mushrooms and a light stock. The whole thing was topped with a dollop of herb butter. The dish was light and earthy, and I ended up mopping up the residual combination of stock and butter with a chewy piece of Tuscan bread.
Scallops, have I told you lately that I love you? The second dish might have been the evening's highlight. A perfectly seared scallop was nestled next to a vibrant orange pepper purée (very simple, my guess: peppers, olive oil, salt, pepper) and topped with a crisp piece of house-cured pancetta. This dish was the ultimate example of less is more--there were really only three things on the plate--but the marriage of ingredients created a perfect mouthful of food. Even my somewhat pepper-averse companion would have licked his plate, if he wasn't so civilized.
Finally, we got our short ribs. If I was made of short ribs, I would eat myself. This dish was also exquisitely simple: a beautifully braised short rib, pink on the inside and fork-tender, paired with a potato gratin topped with sharp cheese and featuring a delightful zip thanks to loads of black pepper. I don't eat very much red meat, so when I'm exposed to a perfect piece of it--be it steak, short ribs or even killer brisket--I tend to do some mild, involuntary dancing in my chair. There can also be some slight moaning. It's awkward.
The final course was a molten chocolate cake with brandied cherries. Rich, delicious and the perfect size. Overall, we left full but not stuffed and nicely buzzed--happy Valentine's Day indeed.
Then we got to come home and watch Lost. Heaven.