Another favorite. The final bill might be twice a high as any other place in town (four or five prawns = $35, well, okay, so is the Kobe beef). But, whoever orchestrated this place has a true winner on their hands.
Service is an unpretentious, ununiformed, kindred unintrusion with all the expertise of quality standards as I've seen. I've seen some of this at the Newport Four Seasons in the Gardens Cafe, but can name just three or four solid contenders there (one of which still remains). It seems almost all the employees at Svelte are top notch and down-home. (Plus, their flat screens were able to transmit the USC game)
They have a "Small Plates" and a "Large Plates" menu. This truly means the size of the plate > and not necessarily the amount of food on each. They seem to go by the rule of "eat nothing more than the size of your fist." But, do offer a small array of choices. To order one small plate per person and share would be hindered after the fourth bite.
And, their sauces and soups are quite thin. The only thickener I have seen them involve is frothing or reduction.
The soup du jour was cream of mushroom. The flavor was deep and layered, the texture thin, and a delightful flavor linger. However, simple, unintrusive but obvious flavors of pure fresh cream, fresh butter, and heady shrooms.
Prawns drawn in a citrus butter sauce with one crimini severed into five parts.
Fondue served in a laughable child-size (or should I say-individual)-size tureen.
Spring rolls with little comment, but satisfying filler.
Kobe beef belted in bacon, tuffeted on grilled spears of asparagus and surrounded by a trail of artistic reduction.
Halibut as thick and boxy as a large alphabet cube, quite fresh and simple. They let the flavor shine through.
Macaroni and cheese, the true elbow macaroni and simple cheese sauce possible found on Jefferson's table. The flavor of which allows for a seemingly single serving to be split four ways.
Pomme frites with just a hint of warm potatoe inside the crispy exterior.
A warm angel (frangelica in frothy cream), a perfect dessert, but a special order from the bar.
I definitely want to revisit. And, it seems a better visiting for dinner unless you enjoy a solid, cozy, romantic era afternoon "soiree." Or, maybe they turn the lights up?
Oh, by the way, Svelte is nee Pirates Inn, Trees, and Mistral. The interior design is totally revamped, but still holds true. The bench seat bar tables are a simple artistic cubes of redwood (or was it teak?). There is a long community table in the first dining room that hints the watering crowd in still in town. The velvet upholstered chairs have enough cushion to sleep on. The "back room" dining is private and cozy while the atrium is a sultry den.
I may have still been under the influence of having just gathered together to be photoed and shake hands with the incredible and prolific artist Peter Max. Yet, I assure you, Svelte is a wonderland. It starts right after the castle-like chair in the foyer.
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