Restaurant Week 2010: lunch at L'Espalier
This year, we could have tried something new (that's the point of Restaurant Week, right?). But instead, we went back to L'Espalier. Which now means it's a tradition. Them's the rules.
We both started with the salad: endive with olives and feta. I don't remember having had olives so good; perhaps the brine was lighter, but instead of an strong, deep flavor, they were light and fresh.
The salad was finished with a red pepper coulis that seemed to contain the intensity of dozens of peppers reduced to their essence. And a generous wedge of chickpea fritter, dense and nutty, that was perfect for mopping up the coulis and the black olive vinaigrette.
Then the mains; as she did last year, LC Sarah went rogue and ordered the burger from the regular, non-Restaurant Week menu. She had her reasons.
I stuck to the prix fixe menu, and almost chose the roast salmon with saffron couscous over the pork loin. But didn't.
The meat was thick and juicy; the mushroom sauce was deeply flavored without being heavy; and the greens underneath the pork were perfectly balanced (not too bitter, not too sweet) and the best part of the dish.
And then to dessert. I ordered the chocolate cake: layers of fluffy mousse topped with caramel, served with delicate almond cookies and chocolate krispies and finished with an intensely orangey foam.
But LC Sarah most definitely won dessert. Layers of vanilla and blood orange mousse, delicate and subtle, with a guava sauce and lychee foam.
Her description: "A mattress of heaven."
She said, "I wish I was tiny so I could lay on it."
I said, "How about being rich enough to buy a really really big one?"
Either way, the lounging-in-mousse concept was deemed agreeable. And so was the idea of celebrating next spring by coming back to L'Espalier for Restaurant Week.