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Report: Divine lunch at La Caravelle today (long)

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Report: Divine lunch at La Caravelle today (long)

Susan Marme | Sep 30, 2003 09:31 PM

La Caravelle's prix fixe lunch, $38.00 plus supplements, is well worth the money.
I have seldom if ever had food of this caliber in North America.
The room is beautiful in a timeless classy French restaurant kind of way (reminiscent of places we frequented quite a few years ago...).
The welcome was very warm and the service very polished while being neither condescending or familiar.
And the food is the best part!
I had:
appetizer -
tuna sashimi and gravlax - a rectangle about 3x1x1 inches, topped with nori, of excellent raw tuna and lightly-cured salmon, cut into bite-size pieces, interleaved with fresh mint and dill and very thin slices of jicama, surrounded by more of the gravlax and a tracing of mustard sauce, and set on a seaweed salad of at least three types, lightly dressed in sesame oil and rice vinegar (I think), with a small buttery crisp triangle cracker - sumptuous and incredibly appetizing, I could taste it on the inside of my cheeks!
main course -
trio of lamb with buckwheat and baby Shanghai cai xin cabbage - wonderful rare lamb tenderloin slices, cut about 1/4 inch thick, and very thin slices of rare leg, and a piece of what I think was breast of lamb, all perfectly cooked, the breast being a sticky sumptuous savory counterpoint to the leaner meat - on a bed of a sauteed little green of some sort, surrounded by perfectly cooked baby Shanghai cabbages and a foamy curry sauce which complemented the flavor of the lamb extremely well. The buckwheat was roasted and sprinkled on top as a crunchy counterpoint.
Fabulous.
dessert -
passionfruit creme chiboust on a cashew crust, with a cinnamon syrup and slices of persimmon - silky custard crammed with passionfruit flavor, also fabulous.
He had:
- appetizer - a La Caravelle classic - perfect crabmeat in a light dressing with herbs, on a bed of cucumber and lightly cooked carrot slices. Very good but not nearly as inspired the tuna/gravlax, also takes an $8.00 supplement.
- main course - roasted squab breast and confit leg, with a fried zucchini flower stuffed with a bit of the squab liver among other things, and basmati rice - divine, the squab breast was medium-rare, wonderfully tender, and not at all livery as it can sometimes be.
- dessert - sour cherry sorbet with brandy-snap type tuiles - not the Holy Grail of Berthillon's sour cherry sorbet, but excellent (he is a sour cherry fanatic, never NEVER can get enough sour cherries or things flavored with them to eat)!
Sorry, not able to describe these dishes in better detail owing to fork intervference being run...
Then the friandises - a tiny square tartlet filled with a peanut butter cream, a tiny raspberry/strawberry/blueberry custard tartlet, a fruit financier, an orange-flavored almond tuile, and a nut crescent. And miniature chocolate truffles.
We drank:
aperitif - house Champagne (very tart and yeasty) for me, Pernod for him
wine - a very nice St. Estephe 2000 (at $42.00, the cheapest on the wonderful but very expensive wine list) - recommended by the captain when our first choice was not available, went excellently with the food
afterwards for me (OK, so I don't know when to stop celebrating) - a glass of Sauternes - fantastic with the dessert.
Regular coffee for both (unexceptionable).
We spent a total of $230.00 with tips.
I would recommend the restaurant to anyone looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion or simply looking for a special meal.
The menu is divided between modern and classic dishes (the latter including grilled Dover sole, house-smoked salmon, roast duck, quenelles, souffles, and so forth, pretty much all the stars of the repertoire).
I can't wait to go back, because I want to try the abats de veau - calves liver, tongues, and sweetbreads.
I would eat anything prepared by this man!

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