CityZen

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Above is the official menu, but you will notice 10 unique pictures in the slideshow, that is because they gave me two extra appetizers and two additional dessert items.  Before I get to the food I should comment on the excellent service that mitigated some of the awkwardness of eating alone.

So we start off with a chilled deconstructed pea soup with some of the most flavorful pieces of ham I will likely ever eat.  Very nice way to prepare for the rest of the meal.  Next up is a quail leg that was the juiciest, most delicious bit of poultry to grace my mouth.  I could eat  an entire bird if it were cooked that well.  The rest of the dish included a sausage on some crusty bread, it was decent but overshadowed by the quail.

At this point the actual tasting menu begins.  This dish was fairly standard starter of carpaccio, it was quite good but neither innovative nor exceptional.  Then came one of my favorite dishes of the night.  After three somewhat salty dishes (I think the whole meal could have used a little less salt), it was quite refreshing to bite into something as decadently buttery and unctuous as lobster french toast.  It was even better with a little bit of the sesame mousse that added a cool counterpoint to the richness of everything else.

The other seafood dish was the weakest of the night.  The entire dish looked less inviting that the others with its slime green broth and none of the flavors really sparkled like so many of the other things that night.  It was still a very well done piece of fish, just kind of forgettable.

I swear the description of the next dish is wrong.  There were not cherries, but grapes with this dish.  And too few of them.  A bite of the scrumptious rillette with a grape (or cherry) was absolutely heavenly.  It destroyed the also very good rillette I had at the Publican in Chicago only a week before.

The last entree reminded me of the quail dish.  On one side you have the best steak (or quail) I have ever eaten and to the side is some solid, but unspectacular sausages.  I am not particularly fond of steaks, but I love lamb so it’s not surprise that the best steak ever was a lamb ribeye.  It was also not just a cooked piece of meat as so many steaks aspire to be, but roasted with a most enticing set of herbs and cooked to rare perfection.

Then we come to dessert.  The little cream thing I do not recall all that well, but I can assure you it was probably really good.  Often when I come to these uppity high class food establishments it is only the dessert that completely lives up to expectations.  Here I would say it was the opposite.  To their credit, they made grit cake taste better than it sounds, though the texture was still far too reminiscent of cornbread.  The blackberry glace was more notable for its foamy texture than its flavor and the vanilla one was quite good.  Then they brought out three more petite desserts all of which were good, even the rose something or other macaron (I don’t really like macarons and I have had the supposed best from Paris).

Overall, the meal was less about innovation than it was about doing everything very well.  I would certainly classify it as the best fine dining meal I have ever eaten; I recall one very nice meal in Shanghai that I enjoyed more, but this would probably come in second.

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