Friday, September 08, 2006

Date night -- Brasserie Margaux and 94 Stewart

We haven't been out to eat at restaurants much lately, so decided that last night was time (as Dave noted, I've been "cooking a lot of good stuff lately" so no need to go out...). We had a really nice dinner at Brasserie Margaux a couple of months ago, and since at that time everything on the menu looked good, we thought we'd see if we could confirm our initial impressions. We were a little disappointed. Service, while friendly, was pretty slow and forgetful. They did comp a couple of glasses of wine to make up for some of the service issues, which was quite kind. Dave's pork chop had nice flavor but was overcooked (we prefer them medium, this was cooked well-done and was somewhat dry). The prime rib from the carving station was okay, but medium instead of medium rare. I love the truffled risotto with parmesan, but they forgot to bring it to me and so for a while I had to gaze longingly at my dish of risotto sitting in the kitchen. Overall, okay meal but not "over the moon." What was fun was dropping into 94 Stewart for a post-dinner glass of wine. It just feels good to stop in somewhere where they know you. The restaurant was slammed, so we sat at the counter and hung out watching the kitchen until Lindsay, the sommelier, had a chance to chat with us. In the meantime I got plenty of time to exchange ideas with Jeff, the sous chef, as he stood at the stove. Watched him slice off a beautiful strip steak from a loin he was dry-aging himself, about 14 days. It was mouthwatering (and we weren't hungry!). It got us talking about meat curing in general. He also dropped off a spoonful of the red wine-port-shallot reduction he was using on the tenderloin. It was great, both in flavor and in texture. When Lindsay finally had time to catch her breath (she was serving as well last night) she let Dave try both Pinot Noirs she had by the glass so he could pick the one he liked better, always a nice touch. He picked the "funkier" of the two, demonstrating his continuing adaptation and appreciation of the nuances of Pinot. As for me, I tried the "Brown Bag" special where I had to guess what I was drinking. It was easy for me to tell what it wasn't, and Lindsay's hint that it was Old World but not French finally helped me narrow it down to Tempranillo from the Ribiera del Duero, a very nice wine (and quite a bargain at $8/glass). Jeff and I talked more about charcuterie and he shared his current favorite book on the topic, when skimming it I realized that Gabe was using the same book as the source for many of the recipes in the charcuterie part of the Preserving classes I took. I have to get a copy of that book...Jeff brought out some foie gras they are in the process of turning into a torchon -- I felt a little ungracious after I blurted out that frankly I thought it was too salty. But I think he took the comment in the spirit of frank and hopefully helpful commentary. Dave seemed to get a real kick out of watching me interact with Jeff and "talk shop." I know I sure enjoyed it, it was worth spending $40 on wine there for that nice social experience. We've got to get back there to eat more often! (and so should you, if you're reading this...)

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