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Restaurants & Bars

Spago experience

notmartha | Mar 13, 2008 08:52 PM

We don't eat at expensive restaurants except for special occasions. This past weekend we went to Spago to celebrate my hubbie's birthday - I gave him a choice of Fraiche, Hatfields, or Craft's and he wanted to try the granddaddy of all celebrity chef restaurants.

Anyway, we were seated at a table near the glass walled kitchen. I have to say the indoor ambiance was kind of loud. Occasionally for some unknown reason they will periodically jack up the loudspeaker where canned music was piped in. Anyway, too loud for a decent conversation. Service was good, but not unobtrusive.

We opted for the 5 course tasting menu (it's either 5 or 10), and got the appetizer pasta for my son. My hubbie also got the wine pairing, which was really way too much wine.

First up is the famed amuse of the spicy tuna in the sesame cone. This was one of the 2 standout dishes for me for the night. The slight hint of sesame oil in the spicy tuna really worked well with the black & white sesame based cone.

Second amuse was a 'toad in a hole'. A very small round of bread stuffed with quail egg and topped with a small slice of black truffles. Cute but I didn't really taste the truffles, which is very strange, as they tend to be very overpowering. All I tasted was the butter on the bread and the yolk.

Third amuse was bacon en croute. I really didn't care for it so I gave most of it away to my son. Not sure if they did this to continue the breakfast theme. The wine pairing with the amuse was a dry pink sparkling wine, which they topped off as soon as the glass was close to half empty.

Then they served a palate cleanser in the form of a pear sorbet with green tea 'soup'.

First course was a pan seared sweetbread in a slightly sweet sauce. Very good and very restrainted in the use of sauce. Just enough drizzle to lend a taste, but not too much to kill the dish. They had some fava beans on the base.

Second was a seared fish (think it's sea bass). Nothing really memorable about this one.

Third was the second standout - not on the menu, but a crabmeat stuffed ravioli (really just sheets of pasta that overlaps, not pressed) with a black truffle sauce and strips of black truffles from France. I can really tasted the black truffles in this dish, and strangely enough the crabmeat wasn't overwhelmed.

Fourth was a double mini lampchop. The pace at this point was uneven. We waited at least 20 minutes for this course. The bones on the lambchop were no more than 2.5 inches in length. The lamb was cooked properly, but I didn't think it was very special and the side was slightly oversalted.

Last was a lemon cake with a raspberry sorbet. I loved the texture of the cake, but the lemon taste was completely overwhelmed by the very intense raspberry sorbet. Individually they might have been fine, but together they kind of clashed.

Final thoughts - I would go back, probably for lunch during summer and request patio seating. I have to try the other dessert on the menu. I don't think I'll try the tasting menu again as although it's solid nothing really blew my mind and gave me a wow moment. The taste, plating size and presentation somehow was reminient of the meal I had at Atelier Robuchon (had the baby suckling pig chop there), but overall if I have to spend another $200+ I would opt for Craft (our other most recent splurge) as I liked the ambience and service much better there.

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