A lovely dinner was had at AOC last Friday night.
Had reservations for 8:15 and the moment we walked in we were seated....though they did seat us upstairs. I think next time I will request a table downstairs.
My companion and I decided that we'd have one plate from every section of the menu, so an eating fest was in order.
We Started with a glass of Sancerre and a piece of Valencay (french goat cheese). The cheese was excellent.....so unlike the domestic goat cheese I am used to and just so so good. It was served with a fig and a walnut and each combination you could make, nut and cheese, fruit and nut, fruit and cheese, or all three combined was simply awesome.
We then moved on to the charcuteries. We decided on the Speck (Tyrolean ham). The thinly sliced ham was arranged on a plate around a salad of arugala and apples with a light vinagrette. It was awesome. The ham was perfect...neither too salty or too sweet, and quite tender, and the greens and fruit it was served with went perfectly together. As with the cheese every combination you could make out of what was on that plate was divine.
For a salad we had a roasted squash salad with burrata and raddichio and pepitas. My companion mentioned that she never thought to serve cold squash in a salad, and I agrred, but it was quite good. The burrata was so rich and creamy, and the pepitas added a wonderful nutty flavor to the dish. Very solid dish.
Next came the 'fish' courses. We had the grilled bass over the carrot puree and the arroz negro with squid and saffron aioli. The bass was cooked perfectly and went very nicely with the carrot puree. It had some sort of light rub or seasoning on it which was nice as well. And the arroz negro was just divine. Kind of like a risotto, but not. The rice was dyed black with squid ink, and was almost a tad bit crunchy, and there were a couple tomatoes in it as well, and then the pieces of squid, and then a dollop of the saffron aioli. It was totally rich and totally wonderful. And the saffron in the aoili was quite a nice touch.
Rounding out the meal we had the pork cheeks which were served over a horseradish polenta and the steamed fingerlings with creme fraiche. Neither of us had had pork cheeks before and we were both surprised with how meaty they were. They were not fatty at all in the sense of big globs of fat (even though they were totally rich) and they just fell apart when you cut into them but at the same time you could tell it wasn't just a piece of pork roast. It's tough to explain 'cause eating it you could tell it was very very rich, but the fat and meat just blended together perfectly, it was almost like candy, and the polenta with horseradish was great also. The steamed fingerlings were good too.
We were pretty full at this point, as we also had another couple of glasses of wine, another white from Burgundy, and then a red (all the wine was very nice), but it was time for dessert.
We had the Huckleberry Apple Pie with Vanilla ice cream and the rocky road bread pudding. The pie was awesome. Amazing crust. Great fruit. Good ice cream. Simply wonderful. The bread pudding was very good as well, though it came out last and we would have preferred it to be the first dessert and the pie last.
But it was quite a meal. Not one dish was unsatisfactory and they each had something memorable. The great thing that my companion and i both agreed on was the myriad of flavors that each dish produced depending on what combination of food you took with a bite. Like with the pork cheeks when you got a bite with horseradish it totally changed the flavor. Or the saffron in the arroz negro, or the pepitas in the salad, and on and on.
The only negative about the evening was the service. We were there for a little over three hours, and that's 'cause the last part of the meal the server got slammed and wasn't available for a good 20 minutes.
That would be my only complaint.
All told the meal cost a little over $200 with tax and tip.
I will be going back, and look forward to having some of the same dishes and trying new ones.
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