My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary at Maestro over the weekend and had a great time. Some overall notes before specifics about the food... our table was in the 2nd row of tables overlooking the kitchen, offering us a good view but a little more privacy which was very nice. I was expecting more of a quiet, dark atmosphere for the restaurant, but was surprised (not unpleasantly) by how light and lively it seemed with the kitchen and wait staff bustling (also, we ate on the early side, so the sun was still coming through the windows).
Service was very nice and we enjoyed the pacing - didn't feel rushed out to make room for a second seating and spent a total of 3 hours there. I liked that we were never interrupted during our courses with "is everything ok?" For me that can get annoying, and I suppose at Maestro the wait staff is fairly confident that the food will be more than ok! The sommelier, Vincent, as has been indicated on this board, was friendly and helpful. I've never interacted with a sommelier before, but he made it very easy by coming over to introduce himself right away and having a very approachable manner.
Now for the food:
We opted for the 5 course tasting menus and decided to choose our own dishes instead of leaving things up to Chef Fabio...there were just a few too many things we really wanted to try and some we really did not want to try to relinquish the decision making!
Amuse bouche: there were 2 amuse bouche. First was some kind of sashimi in a crispy wrapper with olive tapenade. Didn't excite me that much, but the tapenade is a nice salty way to start things off. The second was a beautiful cube of salmon sashimi on a thin slice of crispy bread, to be followed by a test tube full of chilled cucumber-mint broth. This was a really nice combination - the novelty of the test tube is kind of fun, but in truth I find it a little awkward to drink from.
Apppetizers: My husband ordered the "mosaic" which included cubes of sashimi hamachi, ahi, and escolar and topped with 2 of the tiniest oysters I've seen. It was served over a parsley sauce. He enjoyed it, and shared the escolar with me which I thought was delicious. The best part was the oyster which had the cleanest ocean taste of any oyster I've had. I had the carpaccio, which consisted of 3 portions of beef carpaccio wrapped around tofu. Two of them were topped with some kind of a nut pesto I believe, and one with a soft poached quail egg, and all were nestled in some 50 year old balsamic. They were served in a unique dish with giant-sized tweezers to pick them up - that was a fun utensil! I liked the texture of the tofu, but thought it detracted a bit from the beef which was hard to taste. The quail egg topped piece was definitely the best as the yolk added a nice richness, and the balsamic was delicious to mop up with bread.
Pastas: My husband ordered the lobster ravioli, which is 1 lobster filled raviolo and a half lobster tail in a shallow pool of bisque. We both thought this was tasty, but seemed somewhat standard/less exciting. I think we hoped for a more interesting preparation than just the big hunk of lobster tail. I ordered the tagliolini with chanterelles and a little portion of skate wing. This dish was a defnite favorite! The chanterelles had such a great, light woodsy flavor, and the pasta was sauced with (I think) a sherry butter sauce which added nice sweetness. Some toasted sliced almonds added a good crispness as well.
Fish: I ordered the branzino dish. The plate that was presented had just a small square of fennel confit and marinated fennel strips on it, and the fish was brought separately in the dish it had been braised in with fennel branches. On the side there was a cup of fennel consomme - this was so clean tasting and decliately seasoned, I loved it. Overall the dish was very light tasting which was nice given the overall size of the meal. I would've liked the fish to be a little less fennel flavored, but my husband didn't think it was too strong, and we both really enjoyed the fennel confit. My husband ordered the butter poached halibut which was served with onion compote and a liquid center egg raviolo in red wine sauce. In contract to my dish, this one was rich! The flavors were all very bold but held together nicely.
Meat: I ordered the lamb dish, which we both decided was the loser of the evening for us. It came with a very small double chop which was tender and cooked nicely. On the side there was a stack of some type of pastry with a mild sausage-like tasting filling (I don't remember the menu item enough to say for sure what this was), another portion of lamb, and a thin eggplant crisp. I'm not sure what cut the 2nd portion of lamb was, but we both found it to be very chewy and not so enjoyable. Oh well...at least we had his pigeon dish to enjoy. The pigeon was roasted flat and served on a lavender-infused jus (rich), with a small spoonful of delcious spiced pesto (mostly star anise it seemed) on the side. That pesto made the dish! The pigeon was another favorite of the evening.
With all of this food we drank a 2002 Collezione De Marchi Isole e Olena Tuscan Chardonnay recommended by Vincent. This was a great match as it had enough body to stand up to some of the heavier dishes, but had the balance/restraint to work with some of the lighter fish as well.
Now for the onslought of desserts... up until this point we were very comfortable as the portion sizes hadn't been overwhelming, but with each successive dessert course we became more and more full.
First was a pre-dessert of lychee panna cotta with some basil grappa drizzled on top. We were instructed to mix it all together (the grappa was strong, so a good idea). On first bite, the flavors seemed a bit curious together, but after a few more I'd decided it tasted like a refreshing iced tea and was quite addictive.
Next we got the special "anniversary" dessert (that just about all the tables seemed to be getting...lots of special occasions being celerated). It was a white chocolate cake with a raspberry filling - the filling had great intensity, tasting like the really good quality fruit gelee candies.
Next were the desserts we ordered: the lavender creme caramel with champagne/lavender sorbet and blueberry compote for me, and the peach cobbler with grand marnier mousse for my husband. I enjoyed mine except for the compote which didn't have much blueberry flavor, and he liked the mousse best on his dessert. The cobbler was very traditional - I liked it, but we both kind of expected that it would be more of a modern take on a cobbler. We also both had the "martini pairings" with our desserts - blackberry for me and peach for him. Both were delicious, but for the $4 pairing price we expected little shot glass sized tastes...we were surprised to have regular sized martinis placed in front of us! We did our best with them, but by this point we were painfully full.
Finally, the "post-dessert" arrived - 2 mini chocolate cakes and 2 white chocolate covered watermelon sorbet balls. We both cracked off the chocolate and ate the sorbet out of the middle as we were too full for the rest!
All in all, a decadent evening, and worth repeating.
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