It’s holiday party season (well, I suppose it’s past then actually), and I managed to convince Mr. Food Bastard to host his small holiday party for four at Chef John Tesar’s new restaurant, Spoon. With a hefty budget and hungry bellies, we donned some fancy pants and set off for the fertile Preston Center to give it a try.
Ever since I interviewed Tesar about Spoon I’ve wanted to try it. Well, I want to try nearly every new restaurant in town so that’s not really saying anything at all. But, as the charming Tesar talked passionately about his quest to create a restaurant he could really throw himself into, I became more and more intrigued to taste the product of all that passion for fresh fish, responsibly caught and elegantly served.
Spoon was abuzz. So busy, in fact, that even a week or so out, I had to choose between a 6:00 pm or 9:00 pm reservations for a Saturday night table for four. Good for Spoon. We chose the 6:00.
When I spotted servers dolling out curried tuna cones to other tables, my heart fluttered a bit. I’d tried/eaten five of a toned down version of this at the CultureMap launch party and the restaurant version did not disappoint. This time there was more tuna, plus a gorgeous pile of fish roe on top. I could have eaten that all night and been just fine.
I knew right away that I had to try the big eye tuna with foie gras, toasted baguette, chives and olive oil “in the style of Eric Ripert.” After trying this incredible dish I regretted not ordering it when I ate at Le Bernardin in New York City a few years ago. Even at the end of the meal, I kind of wish I’d chosen the dish as my main course, which is a luxurious option.
In addition to the tuna, we ordered three options from the raw bar crudo menu: The big eye tuna with Japanese cucumber, oyster crema and crispy artichokes, the yellowtail with green apples and jalapeño, and the spiny lobster with green onion, orange and mint oil. I enjoyed the salty/sour/sweet yellowtail best of all the three.
The night’s salad was beet with crisp apples and goat cheese. It was beautiful and kept the meal rolling with its bold flavors. I was settled in for some really delicious eating.
In the mood for a main dish with Asian flavors, I opted for the monkfish, which was in a delicate lobster dashi broth studded with turnips, mushrooms, long beans and carrot. Mr. Food Bastard chose the char, which was perfectly crisp and sat in a pool of green pea puree with plenty of hen in the woods mushrooms. Our dinner guests thoroughly enjoyed their gnocchi with uni butter and simply seared big eye tuna.
Before dessert, a pre-dessert appeared before each of us. Nestled in little hollowed-out eggshells were little pools of salty-sweet custard that reminded me a lot of the gilded custard cups served by Wolfgang Puck’s catering arm at the Perot Museum opening party.
Other desserts that graced our forks: a seriously beautiful fruit plate; the caramel pudding pavé with bananas brulée, peanut brittle, sea salt and micro basil; the gingerbread roulade with vanilla goat cheese mousse; and the sweet potato sorbet on top of a fresh doughnut. The roulade and doughnut were my favorites, though I found it odd that our server announced that there would be a change in pastry chefs after the new year. He seemed excited. Damnit; I guess we’ll have to return.
(I feel I must apologize for the terrible, terrible quality of the photos you see below. It was dark and I do not flash. I had to augment the images in post with my iPhone. For shame.)
Spoon Bar & Kitchen | 8220 Westchester Drive | spoonbarandkitchen.com