Had a great late dinner Sat night at Vertical on Forest Avenue in Laguna. Sat at the bar (which we prefer to do anyway to socialize & get tips from the bartender). Flight of Chards was an Australian I knew I wasn't super-fond of (only because I strongly prefer Californian & French Chards), MacRostie 2000 Chard & Mer Soleil 2000. Was going to go for the MacRostie as I know I like that, but he upsold me to the Mer Soleil & I can never go back (well, at $17 a glass, I'll have to in the future, but just for Saturday, stuck with it.) What a mouthful - totally delicious.
1st course - Oysters with teensy dabs of smoked salmon & caviar & shallot vinigrette - only miss of the evening - small, metally flavored oysters. I should have known when they don't serve them plain, they're trying to cover up something!
2nd course - Burrata (spelled burrate) cheese, heirloom tomatoes & balsamic reduction. OMG - asked for extra big chunk of burrata & got it - could have eaten 3 of these in a row & never tired. So yummy & burrata was slightly warm, which made it all the creamier & runnier & more delicious. Planning my return just for this (& another glass of Mer Soleil!)
3rd Course - Asian BBQ's Salmon on soba noodles - very yummy & carmelized top - only disappointment was very small portion of salmon (we were sharing...) Will definitely order again - when not sharing.
Dessert - Meyer lemon cheesecake with fresh berries. Super light & luscious. Perfect dessert for someone like me who's not into heavy chocolate stuff.
Guy sitting next to us had Howell Mountain Cab, Foie Gras seared with apples & other stuff, Sweetbreads & a triple chocolate thing & cleaned all plates & glasses - seemed very satisfied too.
All wines also offered in 2 oz form for tasting (eg. Mer Soleil was $6 for a pretty generous pour). Wonderful wines, great food & fun atmosphere sitting at the bar!