Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Dinner to Remember

As part of this year's birthday celebration, Dan took me back to the Burlington restaurant at the Devonshire Arms. We went there for my 30th birthday and I am so glad we were able to return. The Michelin-starred restaurant is expensive, but worth it. By the end of our eight-course tasting menu, I literally (not figuratively) could not have eaten another bite.

I was once again impressed by the chef's creativity. From start to finish the dishes were unique and quite memorable. Most of the dishes were delicious, but there were a couple of misses for me. Here's the run-down, course by course. Sorry for the poor pictures. Lighting in the restaurant is wonderful for ambiance, but terrible for photos.

Amuse Bouche: 
  • Green apple with avocado mousse
  • Beetroot and smoked salmon macaron
  • Mushroom duxelles "hamburger"

Before eating, Dan and I each picked which one we thought would be the best. He picked the hamburger and I picked the apple. We were both blown away by the macaron. It was so unexpected.The texture was absolutely perfect--airy and crunchy. The salmon filling was salty and smoky--a perfect pairing to the slightly sweet beetroot. 

I enjoyed the apple and avocado more than Dan. I have never had guacamole with apple before, but that's what this was. The avocado was perfectly seasoned with lemon juice and a tiny hint of cilantro, and the apple was crisp and tart. It was weird, but it worked.

The duxelles was delicious, but the filling to "bun" ratio was a bit off for me. I wanted more mushroom. All three bites were a wonderful pairing to our pre-dinner martinis.

First Course: 
  • Jellied tomato consomm√© with horseradish and fennel flatbread

This was a miss for me, but Dan really enjoyed it. I don't like the flavor of fennel, and I found the texture of the consomme off-putting. It reminded me of Vaseline. The horseradish cream was delicious though.

Second Course:
  • Heirloom Beetroot with white balsamic vinegar jelly and Dorstone cannelloni

You have to really love beetroot to enjoy this dish. Thankfully, I am a big fan. There were several different types of beets all prepared in different ways. I loved the roasted beet and the fruit leather. Apparently, there were also salt-baked and compressed beets (which take 24 hours to make!), but I couldn't detect enough of a difference to warrant the effort. The blue-cheese cannelloni was very intense, but paired well with the sweet beets and the acidic vinegar jelly.

Third Course:
  • Salt-baked Carrot with goat's curd, roasted hazelnut, truffle mayonnaise and deep-fried quail egg

This was my favorite dish of the night. It doesn't sound or look very impressive, but that makes me love it even more. It's the sign of a good chef to take ordinary ingredients like carrots and make them extraordinary. 

The carrots were prepared three ways: salt-baked, pickled and maybe freeze-dried? The last method I couldn't quite figure out. It is the powdery substance on the side of carrot. The other two methods worked really, really well. The pickle was sweet and crunchy. The salt-baked carrot melted in your mouth. The egg was perfectly cooked, and I could not get enough of the luxurious truffle mayo. I was sad when this course was over.

Fourth Course:
  • Mackerel with grapefruit terrine and dashi

This dish was a partial winner. The fish was delicious and perfectly cooked. The rest of the dish was a complete disaster. The dashi gel was OK with the fish, but the grapefruit terrine was horrifying. It did not work with the dashi at all. The apple avocado made another appearance, but it was completely out of place here. There is a saying that "if it grows together it goes together." I'm fine with some avant garde cooking, but combining grapefruit, mackerel, and dashi was a step too far.

Fifth Course:
  • Duck Egg Yolk with asparagus, watercress and truffle

We got back on track with this dish. It was another favorite of mine. I am guessing the egg yolk was sous vide because it was absolutely perfect. The creamy truffle mayo came back (yay!) and worked wonderfully with the spicy watercress and mellow asparagus.

Sixth Course:
  • East coast turbot with asparagus and hen of the woods mushrooms

I was starting to get uncomfortably full at this point. Though the fish was light and flaky, I barely ate half of it before throwing in the towel. What little I did have, I really enjoyed. The earthy asparagus sauce and mushrooms were a nice pairing with the fish.

Seventh Course:
  • Vanilla Yogurt with pineapple; and lime and mint sorbet

Nope. Not for me. The "yogurt" was, as Dan said, like astronaut ice cream. It was freeze-dried and very tangy. The sorbet was nice and refreshing.

Eighth Course:
  • Yorkshire strawberries; buttermilk shortbread; champagne and elderflower sorbet

I was so full at this point that the dessert would have to be incredible to tempt me to eat more. The shortbread biscuit and strawberry jelly did that. This was such a whimsical dish. It was basically a deconstructed strawberry shortcake. All the flavors were there, but in such unexpected ways--like the strawberry leather with cracked pepper. So interesting and delicious that I finished the whole dish!

And with that last bite, I was officially done. I could not eat another bite if someone paid me--unless it was chocolate, and then I probably could have found a way.

Read about the rest of my birthday celebrations here:
Calli's birthday
Zahara's birthday
Dan's birthday
Calli's birthday
Dan's birthday
Calli's birthday

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