The DH and I had dinner at Arbor last night, and while he was very pleased with everything, I have to say I was a little disappointed, although my expectations may have been too high.
It's a nice room, and I like the granite top tables and simple tableware and glassware. The menu is a nice balance of heavy and light, meat and fish and vegetarian. Lots of nice choices. We wanted to try the famous moroccan spiced lamb, but weren't really in the mood for something that heavy. We walked in at 810 and were seated without a reservation. We finished eating at about 10.
Water and a whole wheat bread came to the table quickly, along with a chickpea spread that was tasty but not my thing.
The DH had the provencal pistou, the braised veal cheeks with summer vegetables, a glass of Raymond Estates Chardonnay, a glass of the Cotes du Rhone on the menu (can't recall the producer), and the cheese plate and a glass of Madiera for dessert. The pistou was delicate and earthy all at once, with lots of pistou, fresh favas, corn, peas, pea shells, and little farfalle. The braised veal cheeks could be cut with a side of a fork, and were tender and rich. The veggies were perfectly cooked potatoes, favas, peas, corn, and teeny baby golden beets in lots of butter. The cheese plate was too strong for my tastes, but well-composed and nicely presented. In all, I think I liked his dinner better than mine.
I had the andalusian gazpacho, a white gazpacho with white grape slices (holy prep cooking, batman!), croutons, and paprika oil. It was nicely chilled, had lots of zing from sherry vinegar, and was a lovely set of textural contrasts between the soup, the grapes, and the croutons. This was my favorite part of the meal. I had a glass of tempranillo, which was a nice sized pour (2 glasses from the little carafe), to go with my first and entree courses. I had the thyme stuffed rabbit leg with polenta, spinach, caramelized onions, cherries, and a black pepper gastrique for my entree. It was very good, but for the price (22), I would have liked the seasoning to be a little stronger in the stuffing, the skin on the rabbit leg to be crisper (I think it may have sat under a heat lamp), the rabbit leg itself to be better salted (and no salt on the table, and the waiter never brought it despite my request), and the caramelized onions to be not so crunchy. The onions were more sweated/stewed than caramelized, and were super-sweet, but they were too crunchy for me. A triangle of polenta was lovely and crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. The spinach was perfectly cooked, steamed and then sauteed in butter, totally grit-free, the cherries added a nice note, but the black pepper was barely discernible in the sauce, and it wasn't really a gastrique, more like a gravy. It was a good dish, but just not quite to the level of execution it should have been.
My dessert was a blueberry bread pudding with a ginger champagne sabayon. The sabayon was delicious, but the bread pudding was more the consistency of thick oatmeal, rather than with discernible bready chunks and a custard and bits of blueberries. Maybe I'm too traditional in my expectations, but in any event, I only ate about 1/3 of the pudding.
I _have_ been accused of being too picky, food, service, and cooking wise, and I have been a waitress at some fairly fancy places, so my standards might be too high. The DH disagreed with me that the waiter should have asked me if my dessert was alright when it was clear I hadn't finished it, and to be fair, I wouldn't have expected them to take it off the check just because I thought it was too gloopy-- but with a check of $129, I think he should have asked-- especially since he walked by the table three times while my dessert was pushed to the edge of the table and my husband was still eating his. There was, however, an overly long (1/2 hour) wait between the first courses and the entrees, and the waiter did not check in with us at all during this time, even to say "the kitchen's a little backed up right now." I don't think that's cool at all, even while I'm willing to concede I'm too critical on the other points.
In general, we'll go back some other time, and see how it is again, but I will want to try 10 Tables and James' Gate again before I go back to Arbor.
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