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Restaurants & Bars 12

Yet Another Bastide Rave

estufarian | Apr 28, 200505:10 PM

As discussion on this board dries up after a few days, I’m posting the third rave review on Bastide in the past month. Silver Lake Guy (Mar 25) and chudawn (Apr 17) have both provided excellent reviews, including the observation that different dishes were served to each. And we continue that trend. On April 22 we received further development of the dishes. We also chose the tasting menu with wines, but asked if it was possible for each of us to have different dishes, where feasible. This request was relayed to the chef who seemed to take it as a personal challenge. So we had nearly twice as many different dishes (as the previous contributors) and, even more impressively, the accompanying wines were also different EVERY time.
Our ‘shot glass’ amuse bouche was different – passion fruit, watermelon and goat cheese foam. Our 3 small taste plate was even more co-ordinated as a ‘kids’ platter. The chicken lollipop and Roquefort ‘mac ‘n cheese’ (topped with a parmesan ‘cloud’, not mentioned in the previous reviews) had a different 3rd item – what appeared to be a Hershey kiss – but which was actually a foie gras mousse drizzled with a reduced balsamic sauce (i.e.’chocolate’). The same ‘bloody mary’ course, although the tomato sorbet also included spicy elements (? Worcestershire sauce and/or horseradish). And I echo the raves about the bread – especially the addictive bacon bread. The Roquefort soup followed (our nitrogen frozen gazpacho was layered like slate, so easy to separate). But the accompanying soup was different – a ‘chorizo soup’ with onion sorbet and a cornichon ice (which tasted like dill pickle ice-cream!). Sounds horrific, but we both preferred this to the Roquefort soup as each component layered beautifully with the others, whereas the cheese dominated the blue cheese soup. In general I don’t plan to comment on the wines (my notes are erratic), but all published reviews I’ve read emphasize that the wine list is entirely French. Well with the ‘Spanish inspired’ chorizo dish we were served a sherry (and they do feature fortified wines from both Spain and Portugal).
Next courses were both different from the previous reviews. Instead of the langoustine/clam combinations mentioned, our first dish was peek-a-toe crab, with mango, foie gras yoghurt, citrus gelée and a feather tuile (so light it was almost transparent). Superb crab flavour, but this dish was all about textures. The second dish was an ‘asparagus benedict’ (my description) featuring white asparagus, a brown butter hollandaise, a quail egg-yolk, a brioche foam and olive dust!
Our foie gras courses were ‘philosophically’ the same as previous reviews, but differed in the details. One was served à la ‘piña colada’ (sorry to mismatch languages there but Bastide really is a French restaurant). Perfectly seared Foie with Bacardi Rum aspic, pineapple foam and coconut ice. The second serving was in an apricot and amaretto broth with tea flecks and an almond ice.
Next came the equivalent of chudawn’s ‘black and white’ scallop dish – but with a twist! This was a ying/yang presentation on several levels. On one side was the ‘white’ sea scallop; on the other a similarly sized ‘black’ boudin noir. I recall the colour sauce swirls as being red on one side (reduced beet) and green on the other (no notes on what this was) and I also noted an Arbois Ice, cauliflower crumbs and apple straws (but insufficient detail in my notes to identify exactly how these were featured). The second scallop dish was served similarly to Silver Lake Guy’s langoustine course (which we didn’t get) i.e. with cinnamon and fried vermicelli.
Our fish courses were fabulous riffs, both whimsical and tasty. Our fish were different from both the other contributors, so I’m assuming that the restaurant sources whatever is freshest that day. The ‘Cod Brulée’ was similar to Silver Lake Guy’s ‘Bar’ course. The fish finished with a crust, a risotto ball containing at least 3 types of nuts (I definitely found pistachio), and a passion fruit and vanilla sauce, giving a ‘sweet and sour’ note. The accompanying course was possibly the most memorable ‘as an experience’. I should repeat here that Bastide is ‘very French’, despite the adventurous dishes. And the service is also relatively formal. So the ‘Sole in Cap’n Crunch’ with pickled banana and smoked Yukon Gold mashed potato quenelles, titillates and amuses with its bizarre flavours. When we commented on the whimsy of a Cap’n Crunch coating on the fish, we were informed ‘formally’ that Bastide only uses the traditional Cap’n Crunch not the Crunchberry!
Onto the meat courses. Both were significantly different (yet again). Yes we had beef tenderloin as the main ingredient, but served with Granny Smith apples, Parmesan polenta, a robluchon ‘cheeseburger’ (possibly the same profiterole used in chudawn’s scallop dish) and wild mushrooms (included in the description but missing in action). The other was a Long Island duck breast served in a wasabi/Sake ‘something’ and a test tube of soy sauce on the side to be added as desired (by this time I was taking fewer notes, preferring to just taste and eat, so my notes were getting briefer – and we were also on a 17-hour time difference, having arrived from Australia that morning).
Between us we had 6 cheeses (3 goat, 2 sheep, 1 cow) – one of which was from Texas, the rest French (I think).
We had not ordered the soufflés so had completely different desserts. The pre-dessert was a combination of Irish whiskey gelée, Chocolate Sorbet and a Cream Mousse/Foam (a deconstructed Bailey’s Irish Cream).
The real desserts were also in ‘themes’. One was a chocolate crêpe with a ginger beer foam and ‘rice crispy treat’ ice cream (marshmallow ice cream with popped rice) - sort of a gourmet ‘smores’. The other was a rosewater gelée, candied ginger ice cream, lychee, pistachio served with a strawberry tuile. Certainly Orient inspired, although the whole effect was more of Turkish Delight.
With the coffee came vanilla pot-au-crème, honeyed peanuts etc. (I’d given up taking notes).

All in all a great experience (which we might have missed had we not posted on Chowhound asking for recommendations – thanks indeed). And if I’ve short-changed the wine matches, I’d like to emphasize again that we got different wines with each dish so a lot of thought and effort went into matching some very challenging food combinations. But we didn’t get the bacon fritters – a good reason to return!
Congratulations all round – this meal has gone into our top 10 meals of the last 10 years (it actually made the top 5).

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