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Incanto and Ame Trip Report

Indy 67 | May 12, 2008 06:20 AM

First thanks for the advice we received before our trip. It resulted in some wonderful eating. Thanks also for the phenomenal weather these past few days, especially Saturday's. We had been planning on visiting the Ferry Building/Plaza Farmer's Market and, then, heading up to the Annie Liebovitz photography show at the Legion of Honor. The weather and the food delights kept us outdoors all day Saturday.

Incanto: The word "relevatory" was a recurrent word in the posts I had read before eating at Incanto. We had no such experience. The food was delicious and we're glad we went -- although the other couple we were with would have been happy to have skipped this place entirely -- but this didn't even come close to relevatory.

Feeling solicitous about our less-adventursome friends, we asked the waiter for a description of the contents of the salumi platter. Here's a bit of what we were told, "...coarse pate... ciccioli...pancetta piana..." Based on the waiter's full list, we ordered the antipasto platter to be shared among the four of us. When the runner brought the dish to the table, he launched into a much fuller description. We were told that the coarse pate included heart, kidney, and tongue and that the ciccioli was "scrapple." That was the end of that for the wife. She picked at the little samples of the food and trimmed away all the fat on the pancetta. My husband and I enjoyed everything, but we weren't blown away. To be entirely fair, the fat on the pancetta was better than the lardo we've eaten on the salumi platter at Babbo and the mortadella was much, much better than the mortadella we had at Tamburini in Bologna. However, we had no revelatory moments like those we had the first time we ate prosciutto and culatello in Parma.

Our friends thoroughly enjoyed their shared order of gnocchi; ditto for my husband's and my shared order of handkerchief pasta with pork ragu. My husband loved his order of lamb neck and I loved my order of halibut. Our friends said their orders of lamb neck and pork shoulder with fava beans were "good" but that's faint praise from these Italian-food enthusiasts.

The panna cotta was the best panna cotta I've ever tasted.

I'm drawing a blank on our lovely wine.

Ame: We adored this restaurant. I could have happily eaten there twice. My husband began with one of the appetizer specials, pork and ginger tortelloni in broth. All the elements were stellar: filling, pasta dough and broth. I began with the Tai Snapper sashimi. Truly swoon time. The pickling of the tiny cucumber slices played beautifully off the sweetness of the crab and the fish. Just lovely. My husband and I then shared an order of the Kampachi carpaccio. (I did ask a question about the "mountain caviar." I wanted to know if that was some kind of euphamism for tiny diced "mountain oyster." Nope. Just a seed added for texture.) Sublime. The fish was fantastic. (I know hamachi, but I'd never had kampachi.) The thin shaving of radish slices was a lovely counterpoint to the texture of the fish and the zing of the ponzu sauce enlivened everything, but never dominated. The sauce was so appealing that we sopped the excess up with the lovely crusty rolls.

I followed up with an entree of the well-regarded black cod and shrimp dumplings. Add me to the praise chorus. My husband loved his surf and turf: wagyu beef steak and abalone steak. The portion of steak was ridiculously generous and the abalone was tender and flavorful. We ended the meal by sharing the rhubard pie and the castilla. We vastly preferred the pie. It was wonderfully tart and a lovely foil for the ice cream. I thought the castilla squares needed more of the fruit and lemon curd filling. I mostly tasted the well-executed sponge cake casing.

I think Ame is every bit the equal of Le Bernadin. My husband may even give Ame the edge since he likes meat which he can't get at Le Bernardin.

In brief:
Yank Sing's dim sum were fabulous. I'll confess to preferring the less oily style of Yank Sing's food to that of Gold Mountain. The down side of our lunch at Yank Sing is that I don't know when I'll eat dim sum again locally. Yank Sing's dim sum were so clearly superior to anything we eat in the DC and Northern Virginia area that I'm reluctant to go to our usual haunts.

We had a pleasant lunch at The Slanted Door, especially the duck confit with frisse. Unlike our local Chinese food, we get phenomenal Vietnamese fare in the many restaurants in the Eden Center, a Vietnamese ethnic shopping center in Northern Virginia.

Finally, if someone is looking for a sure-fire way to make money, I encourage your to start a mailing store located in the Ferry Building. Early in the morning, we bought some Meyer Lemon Marmalade early in our Ferry Building/Plaza prowl and, in doing so, converted our roll-aboard suitcases into checked luggage. We would have bought considerably more food if the transportation issues hadn't been so unappealing.

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