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Citronelle in Carmel Valley

jaweino | Mar 18, 200811:43 PM

We had a very good experience at Citronelle this evening. We've been fans of Michel Richard since his tiny bakery days in LA.

The short story on Citronelle is that the ambience was great, the food was wonderful, and the service needs some work.

AMBIENCE: The room is small with a nice view overlooking the golf course. We saw wild turkeys and deer from our table. Althought he place was pretty full it was not at all noisy. A large looped sail cloth covers the whole ceiling and softens the noise.

Wine: They have a good wine list with a large choice of California and French wines. They also had a very good selection of half bottles. Their corkage charge is $30 which gets waived if you order a bottle from the list too. We had couple of glasses of very good '05 Gachon Cotes de Nuit.

APPETIZERS: We had Nantucket Cape Scallops which were tiny scallops with a little poached onion in a buerre blanc sauce very tasty if not too adventurous.

Lobster w/ "Begula" pasta. (not a typo) Which consisted of a New England lobster tail with hollandaise sauce, a poached egg, a slice of potato, and squid ink colored couscous, piled in a bowl egg on bottom , potato, lobster covered with black couscous that looked like caviar. It was a real hit with a variety of flavors and textures that blended very well.

Escargot "Crumble". This was 4 little cups each containing two escargots, bread crumbs, pistachios, and macadamias in a kind of custardy concoction like a cobbler. Mrs. J who was very skeptical of such a complicated sounding presentation was practically licking the little cups.

Finally the least adventurous of us had an excellent Caesar Salad.

ENTREES: Two of us had "Lobster with Potato Fried Rice No Rice" It was a lobster claw and tail cooked with ginger (very subtle) and served on a bed of riced potatoes fried with vegetables like fried rice. I'm from New England, and I'm usually not very patient with anyone messing around much with lobster, but this was very good. The flavor of the lobster was the main show and did not have to fight with the other ingredients. It was cooked just right. The vegetables in the "Fried Rice were fresh and crisp.

Sweetbreads was a little bit of a misnomer since there was only one delicately breaded and fried perfectly. It came with two pieces of veal medallion, which were also excellent.

Duck. The dish calls for a leg confit and a breast that is very slow cooked. However, the person who ordered it requested and got two confit legs and no breast. The confit was removed from the bone and was delicious.

DESSERT: We had Orange Souffle, Le Kit Kat Bar, and a Berry Tart. All three were excellent.

The Orange Souffle (takes 8 minutes) came on a huge plate with a little dish of whipped cream, a pitcher of orange sauce and caramel ice cream.
Le Kit Kat Bar was ordered by Mrs. J who doesn't like Kit Kat Bars. She loved this one. It came with two bars, chocolate ice cream and a macadamia nut tuile.
The berry tart was a base of a very good shortbread cookie covered with a paste of dates, then a layer of fresh blueberries and blackberries, with the whole thing covered with fresh raspberries. On the side was pistachio ice cream and a pistachio tuile.

Bread: there were miniature baguettes and multigrain rolls, both of which were very good.

SERVICE: This is the place that needs some work. We quickly finished off our first round of breads and it wasn't replaced until we asked. Ditto for the water. We had to ask twice before we got a refill. Someone ordered an iced tea half way through the meal, and it didn't get delivered until we asked again.

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