Since I'd been hearing great things about this place, I asked my significant other to take me to Bay Wolf for my birthday. It was sort of a last minute request, so the only reservations we could get were for 5:30, but we take what we can get. He brought along a bottle of Kenwood Jack London Cabernet (with the wolf on the bottle; how could we resist?) -- '87, I think -- after checking the corkage fees ($15).
I started with the soupe au pistou; he had a salad of corn and roasted red peppers over rocket greens with blue cheese crostini. We split a glass of one of the wines bottled for Baywolf, a Sauvignon Blanc, I think. It was nothing to write home about, but it complemented our starters better than the Cab would have. My soup was everything soupe au pistou should be but rarely is -- fresh diced vegetables in a light broth with simply the most perfect rendition of pistou I've ever had: bright green (how do they keep it that way?), not overly garlicky, and the right amount as well, -- enough for the whole bowl, but not so much that it overpowered the soup. The salad was good, although it proved impossible to get a bite free of the dreaded blue cheese (dreaded by me, that is), so I'm not the best judge. Michael loved it, though.
For the main course, I was torn between the duck, which I'd read about, and a mixed grill served over white beans. What tipped me toward the grill was the fact that it had two of my favorite restaurant foods, quail and lamb. Michael had the bouillabaise. The grill was outstanding -- the quail crispy outside and juicy within, the lamb (one chop) perfectly cooked and beautifully seasoned. And, as it turned out, the sausage was duck sausage (it even had some duck liver as an added bonus), so I got my duck after all. Imagine duck pate in sausage form. Even the beans were delicious, and legumes aren't generally something I go wild over.
The bouillabaise was filled with a good variety of very fresh seafood, including clams, mussels, prawns, calamari, and chunks of tender white fish, with a decent amount of olive oil in the broth and a couple of large crostini spread with a very spicy rouille. I'd have preferred the rouille in the soup, but that was a minor detail.
During dinner, the waiter was great -- freindly but not obsequious, close by when we needed something but not hovering. When he opened the wine, he asked if it was a special occasion and Michael mentioned it was my birthday. Although we didn't order dessert, he brought a miniature lemon tart as a birthday treat for me. As we had a fairly healthy glass of wine left in the bottle, rather than take it with us, Michael asked him if he'd like to keep it. His eyes lit up, but he asked several times if we were sure before accepting. When we got the bill, he'd deleted the corkage fee. A nice touch, I thought.
All in all, it was a damn fine birthday dinner. Now I just have to think of an occasion to return so I can try the duck.