Last night was our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. For weeks I had been contemplating a choice among the usual suspects (Melisse, Sona, L'Orangerie, etc.) but couldn't get excited about any of them. Then I stumbled across Just Larry's glowing post about the tasting menu he had at Gardens and thought it would be perfect. (Thank you, Larry!)
Called the restaurant last Thursday to make our reservation and to inquire if the tasting menu had to be ordered in advance. Was told that they had recently discontinued the tasting menu but would be happy to ask the chef if he would be willing to put one together for us. They called back later that evening to assure us they would be happy to do so.
Both my wife and I agreed it was the best tasing menu we had ever been served.
It started with an amuse of chopped chicken salad with chipotle and avocado served on crostini. The chipotle added just the right bite.
Next was seared ahi tuna topped with foie gras with a passion fruit and ginger froth. It was paired with a glass of Ch. Suduirot.
Second course was a lobster raviolo topped with sauteed sweetbreads and lobster sauce. This was just a perfect dish with hints of fennel in the raviolo and the sweetbreads perfectly crisped. Wine was a Groth Sauvignon Blanc.
Third came a perfectly cooked piece of Chilean sea bass atop a crepe filled with braised oxtails. Served with a Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Chardonnay.
Fourth course was truffle coated veal loin wrapped in cabbage with creamed leeks and morels. This was really extraordinary; the veal was perfectly cooked and the leeks and morels added a wonderful richness. Wine was a Central Coast Pinot Noir.
Before dessert came a palate cleanser of lemon jelly topped with a rasberry coulis.
Dessert was a chocolate, coffee and praline mille feuille with burnt orange sauce. Served with a Pineau Des Charentes. (By now, I was so full I dreaded the prospect of dessert, but it was so good I wolfed it down in a trice!)
At this point Chef Mel came out to introduce himself and thank us for coming. He mentioned he would always be happy to come up with a tasting menu.
The service was flawless and the food was perfect. A minor carp about the wines would be that they weren't particularly special and the chardonnay pairing with the oxtail crepe was a bit of a miss; it needed something more robust.
Price per person was $115 before tax and tip.