I am so bummed I don't have pictures of us--we were fabulous--or our meal--also fabulous. It was all, well, fabulous.
We got there early, so we sat at the bar. This is where I had my first taste of Tuaca. Definitely a good thing to have in your mouth. I love that their Cucumber Tini is made with Hendrick's Gin. I've mentioned a couple of times before I'm a fan. Ellen Aim ordered the Texas Tini, which was smooth and fruity...but the cranberry helped the peach from being just cloyingly sweet, I think. Prefer the Tuaca. I don't usually have a stop at the bar before dinner, but I'm so glad we did.
The appetizer menu was desperately hard to choose from. Our waiter helpfully pointed out that you can order a sampler of four appetizers. This was a great option. I have to point out, though, it is also misleading. It is the same price as ordering four appetizers. No harm done as it was scrumptious, but a little surprising at bill time. Not TOO surprising, however. My discretionary income tends to all go towards food, anyway, so...
We ordered the blue corn lobster hushpuppies with watercress sauce. This was my second favorite. I adore lobster and corn together. Great match. The watercress gives it a contrasting note--just perfect. I admit, it didn't really seem or look like blue corn. It looked like yellow corn. Perhaps the lighting? It tasted great, so whatever. We ordered the wild boar ribs with BBQ sauce and house pickles. First, I love house pickles. It's a small thing, but you lose points in fine dining if you don't make your own and you definitely gain them if you make them. These were really good and paired well with the boar ribs which were nicely seasoned, perfectly cooked, and DAMN. I could have had an entree of this and been done. My favorite. We also ordered the rabbit-rattlesnake sausage on rosti and creme fraiche. I had to talk Ellen Aim into something with creme fraiche, but this was also pretty good. I say "pretty good" because the sausage was nice, but honestly unremarkable--a bit dry, too. However, I am a sucker for little potato cakes, which were spicy, but nicely so. Then we had the bacon wrapped stuffed figs, with an almond inside. Those were bits of lovely. I don't remember what sauce they were with--it wasn't celery root puree like it is on the current menu--it was a sort of cheese sauce. The bacon sort of dominated everything and you didn't actually taste a lot of fig, but well. That's bacon for you. I dare not say there was too much bacon wrapped around the fig. Who says that? I remember Ellen Aim asking me worriedly, as she was eating the fig, "You did say there was an almond in this, right?" It's good to know what you're eating sometimes!
We weren't inspired by the second course (I'm sure it's all delectable, but one has to pace oneself), so we decided to share the butter lettuce salad. The citrus vinaigrette was so, so light. It was delightful. It seemed to have a slight floral flavor along with a lemony taste. The pepitas were a great touch. I also just want to say it is so refreshing to eat somewhere where the greens are really fresh. I know. It seems really basic. It's surprising how many slimy green salads there are out there, even in places that should know better. It's a dangerous world. Now let's talk about the lardoons. Really, Ellen Aim said it best: "A chunk of bacon, if you will". I don't think I need to expound on this. So. A second course well placed. We also had this really sweet bread basket. House made (it had to be) cheese-corn-green chili cornbread and slices of a thin loaf of a molasses flavored bread. So awesome. Just needed a little more butter, but then, I am a butter whore. Really. It's quite shocking.
Alex ordered the roasted garlic stuffed tenderloin (one of their signature dishes), which was as tender as you could want. It came with a vegetable hash, asparagus (I ate that...well, most of it), and apparently, a syrah demi-glace. I didn't try the sauce, I see. Ellen Aim ordered the New Zealand red deer chop with Texas elk sausage, roasted hen of woods, which came with chicory salad---I believe you could also call this "coleslaw". I ate the mushrooms. Slurp. Roasted mushrooms! It was actually a mix of mushrooms--some button mushrooms were thrown in there. The deer chop was perfectly cooked (medium rare) and so succulent. Ellen Aim didn't care for the elk sausage, but I enjoyed it very much. Again, not the most amazing sausage, but perfectly respectable.
I ordered the Alaskan halibut, smoked crawfish stew, and crispy yucca. Okay, the little bits of crispy yucca were an outstanding addition to this dish and was the first thing I noticed and loved about this. I love dishes that have different textures to it. The smoked crawfish stew was my favorite part of the stew---really fresh tasting. The halibut was perfectly cooked and seared. I don't usually order the fish dish when there's beef and pork around, but we were sharing. I actually think I liked my dish the best.
I knew that Ellen Aim wanted a Zinfandel, and I thought that was an excellent choice. Zinfandel goes with so many things, and it's hard not to please with a good Zinfandel. You don't even need food with a Zinfandel. I was torn between Ravenswood (very safe choice) and Ironstone (I think the cheapest one, but still probably okay). I asked our server what he recommended and he right away pointed to the Ridge Zinfandels. These are everywhere and I think they have a good reputation, but I'd never actually tried one to my recollection. We ordered the 2005 Ridge, York Creek, Napa Valley (which seems to be out of stock at places online, and I can't find it at Spec's). It was well balanced, full of jammy berry goodness---really, the sort of thing you expect with a Zinfandel. Rich and yummy. It did not disappoint. I honestly didn't give it much more thought since I was there for the company and the food.
We did order one side dish. This was Ellen Aim's birthday celebration dinner, after all. Can't pass up white truffled macaroni and cheese. This was served with breaded artichoke hearts on top, which was a nice touch. We slurped this. We absolutely would have used fingers and tongues on the bowl, but we were raised better, even after a bottle of wine and a couple of cocktails. I forget, though, how potent truffle oil is. The leftovers we took home reeked of truffle afterwards, even though there was no leftover truffle macaroni and cheese.
For dessert, Ellen Aim ordered the Digestif menu, which totally flummoxed our waiter, who said he had never heard it called that. We got the bar menu from earlier. Okay. No bourbon? Not that I needed bourbon at that point. Maybe you have to ask. Maybe I just missed it (very possible). We did ask about something called "Dolce" under Dessert Wine for $30 and our waiter said it was very sweet and syrupy--I forget what he said, exactly, but he did say it was "like pancake syrup". He was obviously dissing it, for which I give him props. It made up for his, oh, Ellen Aim, what did you call it? His hostile apathy? Something like that. Anyway, we stayed the hell away from that and shared a shot of more Tuaca! They put it into 3 smaller shot glasses. We didn't order three desserts, alas, but we shared the churros (called Mexican doughnuts), which were warm, cinnamony, and plentiful. The cajeta was my favorite, but the chocolate did go very well with the Zinfandel (which we still had some of by this point. See, we aren't total lushes. Oh, and the bottle disappeared very quietly. No one saw a thing. Things came and went. It was really good service except for the lack of interaction, which in my book, is not necessary, and falls under bonus points).
We went home happy and watched a couple of videos, and then pretty much conked out like the party animals that we are.