I only recently focused on the prix fixe dining opportunities at Picholine during lunch on Saturdays. There is a $35 prix fixe, with a choice among 5 items for each of the appetizers and the entrees and about 3-4 items as dessert selections (excluding cheese). Also, I noticed that there is a $20 three (?)-cheese option as an entree, which one could presumably have with a glass of wine at the bar area of Picholine.
We opted for the $35 prix fixe, which contained a good number of dishes from the a la carte portion of the menu. Not the Scottish red-legged partridge ($31), of course.
No amuse was served.
(1) Carpaccio of hamachi (ordinarily $14 a la carte), radish with sprouts, ginger and citrus soy dressing. This dish met my expectations, with fatty pieces of yellowtail sliced like a piece of sashimi might be. The saucing was nice and integrated, and the use of toasted white sesame (although quantity could have been reduced) provided a nice lift to the aroma and taste of the hamachi.
My dining companion liked the porcini and white bean soup ordered, which was a good amount quantity-wise and was the daily soup. One of the five appetizer choices was a daily pasta, which was a butternut squash-based lasagna item.
(2) Poached Prime Beef Filet, Pot au Feu Vegetables and Horseradish Condiment (ordinarily $25 a la carte). This dish was also fairly good, with two reasonably large slices of beef. The restaurant does ask for the diner's cooking level even for this poached dish. As I signalled medium rare or less, the beef was slightly overcooked relative to that, but still appropriate-tasting. Nice taste of the product, and appropriately-cooked accompanying veggies (mini yellow beetroot, mini turnips, baby carrots, etc.) Horseradish condiment was in a silver sauce container on the side, and was quite gentle (in a good way). I also liked the little buttered toast piece with some flavorful short rib shreds, which offered a nice buttery-and-yet-beefy/fatty sensation.
I had a glass of Pinot Noir, Foley, Santa Maria Valley 2000 ($15), with the beef. It was alright, I suppose. The restaurant had Krug Grand Cuvee by the glass ($30), which I would have ordered, had I wanted two glasses of wine.
My dining companion ordered salmon. Another option was pan-roasted sturgeon with a red cabbage base. A fourth option among the five selections was medallions of chicken.
(3) Sorbet selection -- Appropriate, including papaya. Flavors were not run-of-the-mill.
Overall, better than other meals I've had a Picholine. With the glass of pinot noir and a coffee, the total was $96 after tax and before tip for the two of us. We were comp'ed on our Voss mineral water because two different servers poured iced tap water into our sparkling mineral water. The service at the level of the main dining room team member assigned to each table was appropriate; however, the service of the dining room team members who were not at that level was poor.
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