I guess Wink really shines on the tasting menu, but last night we ate there and almost nothing went right. We were seated immediately for our 7PM reservation....our server brought us an amuse bouche, promised to discuss wines pairings and the menu, and promptly disappeared for twenty minutes. Well, I guess we were the ones who disappeared, because we saw her attending to other tables and walking in and out of the kitchen...but she didn't seem to see us.
I finally flagged down the hostess and asked if we could please have some bread and a glass of wine. Another person came with the wine, and asked if we had any questions about the menu. I asked how the quail breasts were prepared, and she said "grilled." I pushed - "grilled over an open flame?" She hemmed and hawed but ultimately said yes, of course, isn't that what "grill" means?
Our server showed up at the table, gave us the spiel on local sourcing, and without asking if we were ready, said "I'll leave you to toast with your wine" and left again for another 7 minutes. When she returned, I placed the order: share the scallop app, duck for him, quail for me. She offered to bring each plate separately so we could share each one - nice touch. She popped back one more time to tell us that the duck would have a crispy skin and would be cooked to medium rare. We thought that sounded just fine.
Food: amuse bouche of rosewater and strawberry pannacotta, topped with a drizzle of 20 year old balsamic. It was fine, couldn't discern any rose aroma or flavor, so this really seemed like dessert.
Scallops - this dish was a mess. The scallops were overcooked, and so heavily salted that instead of having a beautifully caramelized seared surface, they had a weird heavy, salty crust. They were placed on top of some sauteed greens (can't remember what) & baby leeks, all of which had been cooked with bacon. Salt, salt, salt. The lemon-infused olive oil should have been a light counterpoint to the heaviness, but we found only the most scant droplet.
Quail breasts - well, they were pan-roasted, not grilled, but this was still the best dish of the night. Served on top of a very nice walnut risotto with baby brussels sprouts (hard in the middle) with a good cranberry demiglace. The flavors worked well together, but the quail tasted as if it had been seasoned with the same over-salty rub as the scallops. Flipping the skin off saved this dish.
Duck - the micro-kale was wonderful, the trumpet mushrooms were earthy and nice. The zinfandel vinaigrette was sour but servicable, but the duck itself was atrocious. It too seemed to have been given the exact same salt treatment as the quail and scallops, making the skin, which was indeed very crisp, a lip-wrinkling, unpleasant experience. The meat was raw. I mean duck-sashimi raw.
We hadn't talked to our original server since we placed the order, but I flagged her down to talk about the duck. She got defensive, said "that's how they cook it here," and just started grabbing plates and saying they would re-cook it... we tried to decline, but she wasn't really listening to us....just insisting that that is how she would rectify the situation. I felt like I was in an argument where i couldn't get a word in edgewise...like I was being bullied! I finally said "NO. We don't want anything else." She said "I'll bring out some dessert."
We waited, and waited, and finally I flagged down the hostess again and said "You know, we really don't WANT anything else, just the check please."
The server came out with the check, a little creme brulee (fine, nothing special) and said "we took the duck off the bill since it wasn't to your specifications." MY specifications? I hadn't specified anything - I had agreed to have it cooked medium rare. I'm telling you people - the duck was raw. She was gritting her teeth and said "I hope you come back."
But I don't think we will.