Tuesday, August 21, 2012

RW Report: Abacus is Still Amazing

First off, I have to give the Sig-O credit for getting us some of the best RW reservations in town - Abacus, the French Room and Bijoux. All on prime days. Seriously, the RW list comes out, I make a matrix of restaurants and dates (yes, this is the only time learning about matrices in calculus has ever helped me), I hand it to the Sig-O and magical things happen. Like a Friday night reservation at Abacus or a Saturday night at Bijoux. Reservation day is pretty much like sending my wishlist to Santa.

But on to more important things, like Abacus. The folks at Abacus on Friday night outdid themselves again. The Sig-O, Sibling, the Brit, the pseudo-aunt, and I went to Aacus on Friday night and were reminded of why Abacus is still at the top of the favorite restaurant list. The charming Ryan T. was our server and he made it such a fun evening for all 5 of us.

Ryan was happy to explain that we were better off ordering a bottle of wine rather than the pairings, particularly since none of us were big dessert wine fans. A lovely Meomi Pinot Noir went well with everyone’s dishes and it was thanks to his knowledgable recommendation that we chose it.

Our favorite appetizers were the duck gnocchi and the buffalo potstickers. Since each of us had a 4th course certificate, we each had 2 of the lobster shooters. Yes, we’ve all had them before, but they really are that good. I'm curious how many lobster shooters they make during Restaurant Week because there were a number of them on every table.

For the entrees, the most popular at our table were the shrimp and girts, the Kobe hanger steak and the pork tacos. The winner for that was definitely the steak. The three at our table each ordered it to a different doneness and they all came out perfectly. The sibling insisted the pork tacos were best, but we're pretty sure that was ego defending her dinner choice. Kobe beef really can't be beat and I found myself trying to get an extra bite of it from the Sig-O.

Desserts were a sampling of several, but the standout was the Burundi Coffee Ganache. It was incredibly decadant and the first thing to disappear off the plates. There was also a great lemon cornmeal poundcake that was very good, but the once we tried the chocolate, we pretty much forgot there was anything else on the plate.

Ryan’s service was impeccable. Friendly yet not intrusive. We can’t wait to go back to Abacus and hope Ryan will help us again.

Friday, August 17, 2012

In Case You Didn't Know: Restaurant Week Is Still Going for Two More Weeks

Earlier this week, the Sig-O and I got a chance to hit our first Restaurant Week dinner. Along with the sibling and mom, we headed over to The Mercury for what turned out to be one of the better put together RW dinners we've had in quite some time.

The service was friendly and attentive, yet not intrusive. Since there were four of us, we were able to check out several different choices for each course. Winner winner, chicken dinner was really the chicken "oysters" appetizer which were fried chicken with a pea salad fantastic gravy. The Sig-O was a fan of the truffled sausage. Mom went the healthier route with the salad that featured heirloom apples and tomatoes. While that still looks like a typo to me, it was still a very good salad. The sibing went with the gnocchi appetizer that had a delicious lamb bolognese sauce. With a first course like this, The Mercury was a certainly off to a good start.

The optional 4th course was a four cheese, mushroom and shrimp spring roll. While we appreciated the creativity of the spring roll ingredients, half the table found it a bit too spicy. Not to spoil the rest of the write up, but this really was the only culinary misstep we found at The Mercury.

Entrees arrived shortly and I found an incredible braised oxtail and shortrib in front of me. This was the kind of dish that results in fork duels for those trying to take an extra taste from your plate. To top it all off, there was a soft poached egg on top. Seriously, oxtail, shortrib and egg on one dish. Life is good. Sig-O went for quail that was light and cooked perfectly. Mom opted for the lamb shank, which isn't showing on their menu online, but is certainly worth ordering if you happen to make a reservation. The sibling ordered the trout. Complete with a straberry soup and crabmeat, it elevated trout to a new level.

Desserts were also great from a light and delightful Tres Leches to the Crispy Napolean Wonton to the Apple Cobbler, and, of course, the Chocolate Mousse Cake. The four desserts made their rounds at our table and we each proclaimed our own the best choice. I guess that means they really are all that good or else the family has ego issues. I'll opt for the former in case they're reading.

While other restaurants may cheap out on RW, The Mercury certainly didn't and we'll be back again for sure. It may not be flashiest restaurant on the list, but this neighborhood gem is worth the trip north of Northpark.

Stay tuned as we still have Abacus, The French Room and Chamberlain's all to come!

Friday, August 3, 2012

What You Should Be Drinking: Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa

The Sig-O and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the recent Patron Cocktail lab event at Candleroom. Yes, we were pretty much sold at Patron. But this was not a tequila shot kind of night. We were going to learn to be mixologists.

While I've never been a fan of the lounges that have long lines and require bottle service, Candleroom is a tucked away venue that is perfect for private events. Patron took over for the evening, inviting us in with patron lemon mojitos which were just what was needed as we came in from the still sweltering heat at 7 p.m. Patron took a different, and much appreciated, route with their brand event. While there have been a number of brand ambassador events lately that were large events with 100+ people, Patron opted for a smaller, more intimate and interactive evening.

While the evening certainly included the usual Patron Silver, Reposado and Anejo, the standouts were Patron XO Cafe and Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa, which is exactly what you should be drinking. I wasn't familiar with the Cocoa, but immediately took a liking to it and decided that it would be included as I became a mixologist for the evening. Patron even brought in the "real" mixologists from Tate's, Oak and other local bars known for their unique cocktails. Not only do these guys know how to make a great cocktail, they know how to help you acheive the cocktail of your dreams.

Back to the Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa. I decided we'd make a drink that was what every girl wants to drink after diner but before being convinced to come up for a night cap - a chocolate covered strawberry. They showed us how to muddle the strawberries with a bit of rosemary, simple syrup and a splash of Patron Silver. We then added 2 oz of Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa, shook it with ice and strained it into a martini glass. Garnished it with a strawberry and proceeded to drink it. It. Was. Awesome.

And now Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa is on my liquor shopping list(stop judging me). Thank Patron.