But once Scott and I got through the unmarked front door (see left), everything was surprisingly chill and casual. The meal started off light, with a succession of small dishes that both had us secretly fearing that we might walk away hungry, delicious as everything was. But two and a half hours and more than a few deep fried short ribs later, that worry was long gone.
Here's a stab at the menu, constructed via memory and (mostly) surfing the Internet for write-ups by other food bloggers. Almost every course, we were each served different dishes, though we usually switched plates halfway.
- pork rinds / english muffin with whipped pork fat
- fluke sashimi with buttermilk sauce, yuzu and poppy seeds / kampachi with muscat grapes
- oyster, pork belly and bok choi in kimchi consumme / pea soup with crawfish and morels in yuba
- chawanmushi -- egg custard with asparagus, caviar and braised cashews / sous-vide egg with caviar and fingerling potato chips
- lasagna with escargot, morels, ricotta salata and ramps, and a ricotta foam sauce(x2)
- brined trout with pickled radish, bacon puree and radishes / halibut in pepperoncini purée topped with diced radishes, bok choy and burnt onion
- shaved foie gras with lychees, pine nut brittle and grape wine gelee (x2)
- deep fried short ribs, daikon with mustard seeds and pickled carrots / poulard with morels
- kiwi, lychee sorbet
- poached rhubarb over pea "sand" with yellow cake ice cream / cereal milk panna cotta with chocolate slab, cornflakes and avocado
And although most reviews I've read lauded the foie gras -- which is frozen in liquid nitrogen and then shaved -- I found it entirely too rich and even a bit icky. I couldn't stop thinking: "I'm eating a snow cone made of liver." It was the only dish I didn't finish.
It was an incredibly good experience overall. It definitely wasn't cheap, especially after I opted for the $50 beer-and-wine pairing option, but as a once a year kind of meal it's hard to imagine anything better. And before I left, I got one of the cooks to tell me how to make that bacon puree!
[One side note: Scott came prepared to take lots of pictures of the beautiful food, but they've recently had to ban photographs during dinner, which were apparently slowing down service and -- I suspect -- annoying the crap out of the chefs. Lots of good pictures to be found here.]