My wife and I had such a memorable experience at Muse in Kensington on Saturday night, that I just had to share. The service was excellent, friendly without being overly familiar, with the timing of every dish just spot on. Our server was knowledgeable about the wine menu and was easily able to suggest some excellent choices to accompany our meal. We were seated at a corner rounded table that afforded us a somewhat private space without feeling completely separated from the general atmosphere of the room. All of these were definite pluses, but the food itself was the undisputed star of the show (or perhaps more aptly the chef and kitchen staff were the true stars!).
We had chosen the 9 course tasting menu, and after our server ensured that we had no food allergies or foods we were disinclined towards in any way, we were presented with one delight after another. Neither of us has been able to narrow it down to just one favorite dish of the night. Heck, we can't even narrow it to a top five. Every dish was one we'd happily order again were it on the regular menu. What we had was:
- gourmet popcorn with butter, sea salt, cracked pepper and white truffle oil
- fresh oyster on the half shell with a dollop of horseradish
- cumin and corn soup finished with creme fraiche
- bread (which we likened more to baking powder biscuits) with Parmesan and parsley
- organic braised globe artichoke in vegetable/wine broth with roma tomatoes and finished with buffalo mozzarella
- BC striped shrimp with plum tomatoes and avocado drizzled with infused olive oil
- pan fried halibut with celeriac puree topped with sauted fiddleheads
- panco crusted sweetbreads and shimiji (sp?) mushrooms served with a vermouth and cream sauce
- seared foie gras on a Belgian waffle square with berry glazed pear chutney
- green tea marinated duck breast on a bed of lentils finished with fava beans
- strawberry granita
- grilled lamb tenderloin with sauteed king oyster mushrooms and Yukon Gold potato pancakes
- white chocolate whipped cream mousse with passion fruit jus, topped with dried strawberry chips, lemon cracker crumble, fresh raspberries and mint leaves
While the popcorn and bread are quite likely part of the service with every meal, we have done tasting menus at other restaurants where they have counted the amuse bouche and the palate cleanser as courses. We were therefore surprised when this was not the case at Muse. Also, we have often found tasting menu course sizes can be quite small. Again, this was not the case at Muse. Every course was of more than sufficient size that you never felt like you didn't get enough. The chef even came out for a brief visit before the dessert course and to ask our opinions of the various offerings. He offered to add in an additional course so we could enjoy a selection of cheeses and accompaniments before we moved on to dessert, which we sadly had to decline as we were already questioning our ability to find room for even a small dessert. We left feeling more than sated, completely thrilled with the experience, and fully intending to return before too much time passes. The only thing we're likely to change on our next visit is we'll try the 7 course tasting menu instead, and hopefully leave a little less stuffed but equally enthralled. We heartily recommend Muse!