"Charlie's taken care of the check." The 6 course dinner I just had at Chaz was on the house. At that point, the least I could do was to leave a $40 tip. I've been a regular at Chaz over the year and a half since Charlie Solomon opened his own place out on Fillmore and Chestnut. I wanted to put out all the disclaimers first, before I get to the meal. But Chaz has been one of the few places where I've been a regular and I'm praising it as much as I have before.
I told Charlie that it was my last meal there and gave him carte blanche. Here's the meal:
Supple slices of salmon confit on a chilled bed of shredded endives was a pleasant amuse bouche, a cool foil perfect against the warm evening.
Sour capers and rich liquid butter balance to a highwire act, a poised finishing flavor for a perfectly cooked scallop tipped just past the point of translucence as it rested on a section of cauliflower cooked to an equally balanced edge of tenderness, sweetness and crunch.
Then risotto, where large peas burst like birds in song on the savory earth and wood of rice and morels.
Metaphor is transformed into reality, when the birdsong lies buried in the juicy breast of a squab, nesting on a bed of wild mushrooms, slippery and crunchy, all elements bound by a nuanced mustard sauce.
Charlie sends the waiter to check -- "one more dish?" Yes!
Now a breast of veal under a layer of caramelized salt-rich skin. Each fiber of meat a strand of silk. A gentle finessed nudge from the fragrance of fennel, soft and intoxicating. And sweeter bursts from small, bright English peas.
There is no richer finish than the slices of chocolate truffles, the size of large coins. Light vanilla sauce, thick whipped cream, and a piece of sweet wonder -- a caramel brittle. Summer is not forgotten, it blooms deep in the intense cherries that brings greater depths to the chocolate.
I thanked Charlie profusely for the meal. He gave good wishes as I left -- "Have a good life." I already have.