The gf and I decided to take part in winterlicious this year and knock another restaurant off our to-try list at Corner House. We had an 8:45 reservation, made through OpenTable.com last Friday (Feb 1). CH is one of the $35 dinner locations and is apparently extending this menu through the end of February.
Things started off a little hectically: we had to wait ten minutes for our table on the stairs by the front door and a couple on their way out as we were arriving seemed to be complaining that they had been rushed to leave. After that little hiccup we settled into a very pleasant experience. Our server took our order promptly, bread was delivered (and refilled), wine was topped-up, and each course arrived at an appropriate (though by no means stately) pace.
For starters I had the warm duck confit and french bean salad while the gf chose the roasted beet salad. Hers was excellent with perfectly-cooked beets and a well-matched dressing that accented instead of overpowering. My beans were also ideally cooked with a good dressing but the fact that the confit was shy of "warm" kept the dish from truly shining.
For our main courses we had the juniper venison stew with herbed spaetzle (me) and the whole-roasted beef strip loin with the usual (her). I have to say that I was really impressed with my main dish. The serving size was very generous and both the venison and juniper flavours came through in spades. The slight (and, in my view, positive) gaminess of the venison was made especially apparent by comparing it to the beef--also expertly executed.
To cap things off our desserts were the belgian chocolate torte and the warm vanilla risotto with plum compote. Apparently, the torte was a good rendition of the common flour-less chocolate cake but I really don't remember because of how enthralled I was by the risotto. It was creamy, but with a slight, sweet crunchiness (not of under-cooked rice, more of a welcome carmelization near the end of cooking), and the compote was perfect.
Wine list had a good variety; both in terms of price and country of origin.
I have in past been a 'licious-skeptic but I really think I'm coming around. I guess the key is to remember that you are trading a less-expensive price tag for the extra effort of selecting carefully; making a late reservation; and not needing super-attentive service.
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