Wednesday night I was running late and arrived in time for the appetizers our group of ladies had ordered. So, Im not exactly sure what I was eating, but I liked both of these vegetarian dishes a lot. One seemed to be roasted eggplant with goat cheese topped with a creamy tomato sauce that was a soft and puffy cloud in the mouth. The other was a Portobello special of the day that had chunks of meaty mushroom in a rich tomato sauce, sun-dried tomato and wisps of scallion. Somehow the kitchen managed to breathe new life into that clichéd set of ingredients. Both dishes were somewhat over salted, but that made them taste better with our wines. I reached for the bread basket to counteract the salt, and was disappointed in the damp and rubbery focaccia. It was what my mother calls a sinker.
Id ordered the paella for my main, based on Margrets recommendation. It looked picture perfect and smelled great when presented. A little bit of juice on the bottom of the pan, nice saffron yellow tinge, and moist-looking seafood morsels including curled squid tentacles and a ring of plump clams in the shell, although I could have done without the peas. The fringe-like scallion fronds seem to be the signature garnish here, as shown below. The rice was good quality with a residual firmness, but there was no crust at all and I suspect the paella wasnt cooked in this pan. There was still something else missing. I added more salt, that helped. I salted some more and stirred it in, better. And, then an even more vigorous shake over all and further mixing in. While that helped salvage the dish, it would have better if it had been seasoned appropriately in the kitchen during the cooking process to permeate the ingredients. The seafood was impressive in being moist and succulent, not overcooked at all. But while clearly pristinely fresh, they all tasted blander and less sweet than they could have if seasoned at the right time. I went after the salty-spicy slices of Spanish chorizo even more greedily.
My friends were happy with their choices. I had a taste of the vegetarian special of the day, a porcini-filled pasta that was very good. One ding of note was four of us were served first, and the remaining chicken dish took a good deal longer to come out of the kitchen. We asked about it twice. When it finally arrived, the explanation was that chicken takes longer to cook than the others did. This is something that the kitchen should have calculated in its timing the dishes for our table and not have made one person wait so long. But other than that, the service was attentive and proficient.
I had brought two bottles of wine from home. The 1995 Mas Champart Coteaux de Languedoc rouge from the warm South of France danced happily with the sunny Mediterranean flavors of our appetizers and was hitting all cylinders. The 1991 Arrowood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon had the characteristic youthfulness of this exceptional vintage with still primary flavors of cassis and black cherry highlighted with a hint of black olive, dried herb and capers that speak of its origin. Liquid velvet in the mouth, the juicy ripe fruit was luscious and well-integrated with vanilla oaj, toast and cedar, fanning out through a powerful finish. While very rich, a meal on its own as Michelle said, the Cab was so well balanced, it even harmonized with my seafood paella. Corkage was $12.50 per bottle.
For dessert we shared an order of berry tiramisu. Again, this isnt something I would have chosen for myself, but Im glad we did. The espresso made an extra strong statement and the kitchen revived this cliché too, this time with berry-flavored mascarpone topped with fresh sliced strawberries to make it more interesting.
The kitchen showed a special talent for vegetable dishes, packing a lot of flavor dimensions into the three examples I tried. One of our group is a vegetarian, and its always a special pleasure to try a place that offers her a range of good options too. Trapeze certainly earns extra points in that department. The bill for two appetizers, five entrees (mostly vegetarian), one dessert, corkage on two bottles, tax and tip was $130.
And, here's the url for Chron's review a year ago that credits Chowhound.com with an early description:
It probably refers to this post from "that other zach":
[BROKEN LINK REMOVED]
Way to go Chowhounds!