For the second year in a row, I took the wife to Maestro for a birthday dinner. And, not only did we thoroughly enjoy the food and wine, we were touched that our server and sommelier both remembered us from last year.
On last year's visit, we had tremendous success relying on the food and wine recommendations of the sommelier, Vincent Feraud. Based on last year's success, this time I decided to allow him to select all of my food courses, and to pair a suitable glass of wine with each course. I told him to surprise me with each course. Meanwhile, the wife had a nice buttery Chardonnay (Newton Unfiltered) to go with each of her courses, which she slected herself.
Stunning. Ordinarily, I am not a big believer in the "foam" trend that seems to have started in Spain and spread to many of the world's most innovative restaurants. I gladly made an exception for this remarkable dish. Because of their delicate flavor, sunchokes are often overwhelmed in soups. Chefs who attempt cream of sunchoke soup often just end up serving a buttery, salty cream -- very tasty, but hardly reminiscent of sunchokes. Fabio's creation captured the subtle essence of the chokes and built upon it masterfully. I would not have changed a thing about this dish.
Penne with Crawfish
This dish contained the only culinary flaw in our two trips to Maestro. The penne was crunchy. Not merely a bit more al dente tan some diners might like (it was said to have been prepared in the style of risotto). No, it was worse than that. It was literally crunchy. It made the sound of biting into a stale pretzel as you chewed it. Perhaps I should have sent it back, but I am always hesitant to do so. In any event, the crawfish sauce was so marvelous that it nearly overcame the textural gaffe.
Roasted Hay Smoked Turbot in Hay Sauce
As much as I am determined to explore Fabio's menu, I cannot help but order this dish every time I am at Maestro. It is one of the best dishes I have ever had, anywhere. Fortunately Vincent's taste and mine coincided, as he just so happened to pick my favorite dish.
After all that wine, the details started to get foggy at this point. I do remember a dollop of pungent anise-infused sauce beside the duck. I thought it was excellent, but those who are not fond of black licorice should steer clear of this one.
A blur. Except, of course, for the molten chocolate cake petit fours. Molten chocolate cakes have become a bit of a cliché, but Maestro's is so damn good (and pleasantly tiny) that you'll literally forget that you've had the dessert so many times before.
Unfortunately, I did not finish a single glass of wine. While they were all excellent, there was so much wine. Vincent noticed, and sensibly suggested that next time he will give me less wine with each course. Next time -- I can hardly wait.
Service is professional and extremely helpful and courteous, if a little frenzied at times.
At some point during the meal, my wife said dismissively, as if making a trivial point, "This is the best restaurant we've ever been to." Even the next day, when the Chardonnay wore off, her praise was nearly as lofty -- waffling between Maestro and Vila Joya (Albufeira, Portugal) as her choice for favorite restaurant. High praise given the list of restaurants at which she's been fortunate enough to dine.
Bravo Maestro. Except for the crunchy penne.