Thanksgiving at Rialto
We decided to go at real proper lunchtime, largely because if we waited until, say, three or four, we'd already have demolished a box of crackers and an entire wedge of Stilton with dates and oranges, and then we wouldn't be hungry.
As it turned out, that was the right time to turn up: there were only a handful of occupied tables and we were shown to a lovely window spot in a secluded corner.
(One of the nicest things about Rialto's recent redesign is that the room is sectioned off with linen drapes, creating smaller, more intimate seating areas. Sure, you can still hear the obnoxious diners at the next table, but at least you don't have to look at them.)
Rialto's Thanksgiving menu was a three-course prix-fixe.
Even though there weren't that many choices, we still had a tough time deciding.
Actually, there were four courses: everyone got the roasted pumpkin soup, a creamy, velvety little serving with pumpkin seeds, a dollop of ginger cream and a fried sage leaf.
For the first course, I chose the salad with poached pear. The greens came tucked inside what was essentially a taco shell made entirely out of parmesan cheese. (Process that for a moment.) The pear was allegedly poached in red wine, but there was something else (Amaretto, perhaps?) that gave it a sweet, almondy note.
And then, the star of the show: the turkey dinner.
The mouthful of crisp skin and the scattered pecans were a tasty and unexpected bonus.
Note the diced morsels to the left of the sprouts in the next photo. Notice how the sprouts do glisten so? Bacon, my friends. Bacon.
With the turkey, I had a German Spätburgunder; it's unusual to find German reds, and this was lighter than its French Pinot Noir cousins and a good match for the meal. This shows the color pretty well:
And then dessert: a pumpkin custard topped with chocolate and cream, each flavor carrying hints of fall spice and blending together in a happy harmony.
And finally, a nice cup of mint tea in a teapot that looked like the kind of teapot that would appear in a 1950s sci-fi movie about drinking tea in the year 2000.
So that was all very — wait, what's that you say? What did The Boy eat?
Well, let's ask him, shall we?
(And yes, they played salsa all afternoon, which I loved, especially hearing Celia Cruz and a Beny Moré cover, but which The Boy compared to how I would feel if they played incessant Beatles while we ate. I saw his point.)
The service is always graceful at Rialto, and was especially so that day. Perhaps it was because the atmosphere felt like more of a celebration, or perhaps the staff was thankful that people were still willing to eat out, even in the middle of an economic apocalypse.
Either way, a number of lovely people stopped by our table to chat, including Rialto's chef and owner Jody Adams.
Darn. I should have asked her the secret of the poached pears.