Let me just go ahead and say this: Good job, Curtis Duffy. Three Michelin stars are comin’ your way!
Dinner at Grace was spectacular. The room, the vibe, the service and, of course, the food… all just amazing. And here are the pics to prove it.
When we met Chef Duffy at the end of the meal, he said it was “a shame” we’d ordered the same menu. Come on! You gotta tell people these things BEFORE they order! Normally, the vegetarian menu is simply an afterthought… something that chefs have to put together, not want to. Apparently that’s not the case here. He said the Flora menu is better than the Fauna menu. Damn! Well, consider this your insider tip: get one of each.
The amuse bouche: a tamarind-like dome with puffed grain, a tart flavored gougere, puffed tapioca with melted lardo, and a spiced candied date. All were so interesting and contained amazing complexity in one little bite.
Right about now he asked if my chair was comfortable. Yes, it was. The chairs are very comfortable. He said his wasn’t. There was something sticking him in the back. “Well get a new chair!” I exclaimed. That’s when he pull the little blue box out from behind him.
Doh! I totally fell for it! So sneaky!
The first taste of this one and I knew it was all over. Osetra caviar with meyer lemon custard, candied kumquats, pumpernickel chips, chive oil and seaweed. Salty, creamy, herbaceous, deep, bitter with pops of umami. I could have had another just to taste more combinations of these ingredients.
This is the kind of place that brings a little bed for your phone if it’s on the table. What kind of place is that? I don’t know. I’ve never seen it before. It’s also the kind of place that replaced my water glass with cold, fresh sparkling water after I hadn’t touched it for a few courses. When I looked at them (yes, there were 2 of them on this job) quizzically, one gentleman replied that they thought I might like some fresh water. Ummmm… ok.
Michelin. Star. Service.
This is a frozen ginger water cylinder with sliced, raw kampachi, trout roe, young coconut, pomelo segments, toasted cashews and thai basil. Delicious, light and fresh.
Here’s a view from the dining room straight into the kitchen. Apparently, there’s anywhere from 20-25 cooks working at any given time. That’s a pretty solid ratio of cooks to guests considering that there are only 60-something seats in the whole restaurant and they only do one turn a night. That’s right, the table is yours for the night.
Oh, right. And there’s a new bread course with each savory course. They’re served with Wisconsin butter and herb butter.
Scottish salmon with cabbage a zillion ways (braised, rolled with fingerling potato, puffed, sautéed) with citrus pudding, clam foam, and bay leaf water powder. Yes, I said “bay leaf water powder”. Amazing.
This one is artichokes (also a zillion ways) with braised Sicilian pistachios (also in pesto form) sweet yellow curry cream, and baby dandelions.
These are 3 of the 4 breads: lavash, oil-cured black olive ciabatta and herb brioche (with a smoky black sea salt). The only one missing is bagel bread that came next. (And the ring in the pic is the prize from the little blue box.) ;)
Grilled Miyazaki beef was next. It was with salsify (roasted, pureed, made into a chip), grilled king trumpet mushroom (which I LOVED), more teeny mushrooms that packed a serious punch, and mashua leaf. It was so flavorful and wonderful. The beef itself had excellent balance. You know how sometimes you get a fancy cut of beef and it’s so fatty and rich you can only take 2 bites? This beef was not that way. Yes, it had fat content, but it also contained protein and kept the flavor of the meat, rather than the fat. It also had a lovely char flavor for added depth.
Dashi was served to sip along side the beef. Beautiful.
Here’s another pic of the beef. My plate was white (J.L. Coquet, btw), his was black. Nice touch.
I think someone got shhhush’d at the table when I took the first bite of this meltingly delicious piece of lamb. Sauteed black kale, mint purees and parsley root were a perfect balance to its richness.
Ok, so there always has to be a least favorite course, right? This was it. The tiny bits of savory fennel frond were no match for the sweetness of the poached pear, pureed and sliced and rolled with tamarind, elderflower gelee and cardamom meringue. Overall, just too sweet and floral for my taste.
This one was super interesting. Caramelized sudachi (which is apparently a lime-y, orange-y Japanese citrus) made into a thick dulce de leche-like custard with toasted cashews, asian pears and shaved celery. It was loud and acidic and fresh and light at the same time.
This was my favorite sweet course. A buttery but not-too-sweet basil cake was served with young coconut, lime, huckleberries. Lots of flavor and balance.
I wish I could remember what was in the middle of this one-bite explosion. All I know is that it was tasty and bright!
The last of the mignardise was this heavenly lavender-caramel filled chocolate. Perfect.
And we got to check out the kitchen!!! Thank you so much to Chef Duffy, our fabulous, knowledgable and lovely captain, Amy, and all of Team Grace! You got this one in the bag!