Lunch at L'Espalier; Restaurant Week 2011
Example: the tradition of Restaurant Week lunch at L'Espalier with Lovely Co-Worker Sarah.
This was our fourth trip (here are one, two and three) and we got lucky. Not only because Restaurant Week coincided with my Good (i.e. Eat! Eat!) Week, but also because, though it initially seemed we'd left it too late to get a reservation, LC Sarah was diligently monitoring the situation; as soon as she noticed a table had become available, she pounced.
Usually we order different things so we can try each other's food; this year it wasn't as easy, as there were a lot of seafood items. Sarah is allergic to fish and I'm staying away from anything that might mess with my weakened immune system (I know, I'm probably safe at L'Espalier, but I'm not taking any risks).
So the mussels with garam masala and cashew-curry sauce were out, as was the lobster BLT with avocado butter.
Not that we suffered, of course. First, a goat cheese curd salad with rhubarb. The curd, which I hadn't tried before, has a texture much like flan: light, almost custardy, with more of a tang than regular goat cheese. I'd definitely look for it again.
In this dish, it balanced nicely with the bite of the rhubarb, the cabernet sauvignon vinaigrette, and the deep, salty Kalamata olives.
Sarah said, "It's like Lily Pulitzer on a plate." It was certainly the preppiest salad I've ever had.
Next, we both went for the short ribs.
Side note: Two breaks from tradition here. One is that Sarah did not get the burger, as she has done the previous three times we've done Restaurant Week lunch at L'Espalier. The other is that the burger is now part of the Restaurant Week menu, rather than being a regular-menu item. (It's also $10 extra.)
Anyway. Short ribs.
Below the meat, a swirl of sweet, creamy parsnip purée; above, some kind of fried, crunchy deliciousness; to the side, more sweetness in roasted red onions and barely cooked carrots.
(As we were leaving, we heard a women remark to the hostess that "the short ribs were a little dry." She was evidently insane.)
We were able to diversify on the dessert options. As usual, there was something involving exotic fruit, fluffiness, and lychee: buttermilk panna cotta with guava-cream cheese mousse.
The little black beads? Chocolate-covered rice. Genius.
And something chocolatey: a dark-choc cake topped with caramel, with a pool of intensely flavored blood-orange gel to the side.
In my last post, I gave thanks for friends who bring food. I'm also extremely grateful to friends who say, "Cancer schmancer — let's go eat!"
So Sarah, thanks for keeping up tradition, and let's plan ahead; by the time the next Restaurant Week rolls around, I'll be back to my full eating potential.