Went to the "bird dinner" at Oliveto last night. Continues tonight. There were so many wonderful things on the menu (which varied quite a bit from the one on the Web site) that it was even harder to choose than usual. We had:
- consommé of mature pigeon with roasted beets and farro $10.50
- chilled poached hen breast tonnato $13
- fritto misto of quail, butternut squash, red onion, and sage $16.50
- chestnut penne with hen polpettini $14.50
- farro fettuccine with duck cracklings, radicchio, and balsamic $13 (needed salt)
- malloreddus (chewy Sardinian semolina gnocchi) with chicken, saffron, wild fennel, and hot pepper $15.50
- spit-roasted duck duck dipped in saba $30
- crispy duck leg confit with bitter honey and roasted root vegetables $16.50
- chocolate-brioche bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce $9.50
- warm Damson plum tart with amaretto ice cream $9.50
Every dish was great, I could go on at length about any of them. The consomme was listed as a second course but was a pefect starter--the beets added an earthy note to the intense broth. My wife's going to try to make maloreddus at home, and the duck crackling sauce gave me an idea for a duck fat variation on spaghetti aglio, olio, e peperoncino. The roast duck was startlingly smoky, getting into tea-smoked territory. The "bitter honey" is from southern Italy, unusual flavor, not bitter but rather sort of tart. The bourbon caramel sauce was brilliant.
Service was as on our last five or six visits good. Paul Canales, the chef, introduced himself and chatted for a while, and confirmed that they'd made some changes in that department.