Had a first visit to Bistro 5 in West Medford last night and really I can't say enough good things about it. We had the 5 Course Chef's Tasting Menu.
Before the meal we shared a small plate of White Anchovies with Cannelini Beans. The beans were cooked well, but could have used a little more seasoning. It's hard to mess up white anchovies and this was no exception. The perfect sliver of briny pickled fish to compliment the house-made foccaccia.
Course 1: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Brioche Croutons and Parsley Oil. Super luxuriouse with just a hint of acidity for depth and interest.
Course 2: Torchon of Foie Gras over house made cracker with seared and raw persimmon, topped with Cocoa Nibs. The torchon was laced with pastrami spice and Vahlrona Chocolate. Wow, just Wow!
Course 3:Hand Rolled Cavatelli with artichokes, toasted panko, mushrooms and white truffle oil. A deeply satisfying dish. I appreciated the light hand when applying the white truffle oil, which sometimes gets over done and overpowering.
Course 4: Pork Shank over white beans. This dish reminded me of a cross between a deconstructed Cassoulet and Osso Bucco. The shank was perfectly cooked and all of its meaty goodness simply fell off the bone. The white beans were a revelation here, with the appropriate amount of bite and flavor. The plate also came with a house made cracker topped with a Gremolata of cornichon and served with a minced pork terrine. The minced pork terrine was the least successful thing on the plate, but certainly no detraction from the dish. And... yes, I did suck the marrow out of that shank bone. Not pretty, I know, but oh so worth it.
Course 5: Poached pear over a Cardomon cookie with Sabayon foam and Marsala wine. We also sampled the Apple Tarte with the same cookie and whiskey ice cream. The Apple tarte was much better than the poached pear, and I would have to say the Pear was probably the only dish of the night that I felt was not up to the rest of the meal. Not to say it was bad, it just didn't live up to the rest of the meal. It seemed lacking somehow.
After the meal, the chef-owner, Vittorio Ettore came over and we began chatting about the meal and asked him about his preparation of the Torchon. Lo and behold, he invited me back to the kitchen to watch the Chef du Cuisine, Joe Carli prepare one! What an amazing treat for me and the perfect surprise ending to a very memorable meal!