May 22, 2009, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Restaurant

And now for a break from the “budgeting” focus of this blog, in favor of extravagance. For Brian’s birthday, he asked that his gift be a tasting dinner @ Gracie’s. Ah, that is why I love this man.

soft shell crab

You can choose from a 5 or 7 course menu, with or without wine pairings for each course. We chose the 5 courses with wine. The pours weren’t full glasses, they were more like half or 3/4 of a normal glass and it was mostly white wines.  The food is a surprise until it comes to the table, but they do ask you if you’re allergic or strongly dislike anything. I didn’t take any notes, so I’m just going from memory here:

Amuse bouche: Kiwi soup. You now you’ve made it big time when you’re eating something fancy served in those Asian soup spoons. I don’t remember what else was in the soup, it just tasted like cold kiwi but not as sour as you’d expect. Topped with chopped strawberries.

First course: Poached shrimp, with house-made kimchi, topped with micro greens, ramp onions, and mini potato chips. The shrimp was huge. The kimchi was mild, probably to appeal to the fancy restaurant scene.

Second course: Gnocchi with fava beans, house-cured bacon, wild mushrooms, parmesan butter. The house-made gnocchi were the lightest, airiest, fluffliest gnocchi I’ve ever tasted. The mushrooms were big and plentiful. You can also order this as a full sized dish on the menu, and I would definitely order it.

Amuse-bouche: Homemade frozen lemonade, in cute little shot glasses with short straws. I loved the chewy bits of candied lemon peel in it.

Third: battered & fried soft-shell crab. I think it was served with a white polenta or something? It wasn’t my favorite course of the meal even though it was the biggest & main star. This course was paired with champagne, which excited me to no end. I love champagne, so any excuse to have it with the main food is okay by me.

Fourth: Pork two ways – a little cube of a pork terrine, and a couple small slices of tenderloin, and some apricot-plum sauce. Tenderloin was pink in the center, just the way I like it.

Fifth: Dessert. Dessert was huge, like the same size as the crab course. We each got a different one. The first was kinda like a parfait – chocolate ganache in the center, strawberring mousse on top, and pistachio pudding or pannacotta covering it all, with fresh berries on top. I loved it. The other plate had a slice of cake – almond cake with stripes of cherry cream and almond nougat stuff. It was very pretty and came with a scoop of berry sorbet.

Amuse-bouche: Even after all of our courses, they gave us an amuse-bouche that was generous. We each got one: double-chocolate cookie, strawberry meringue cookie, and cassis gumdrop.

So there you have it. Officially five courses, plus complimentary mini-courses. I made the reservation for 6:00 on a Saturday, thinking that dinner would take a while, and that if we started earlier, we’d get better service when the restaurant wasn’t so busy. Dinner was quicker than I thought, so if I were to do this again I would feel ok making it later. The 5-course menu with wine is $95 per person, so dinner for two with tax and tip is just under $250. It was a gift that we got to share, and I value the experience, but typing that out still freaks me out.

As if all of that food weren’t enough, we decided to pop over next door to Tini’s for some cocktails. But while we were there, we just couldn’t resist getting an order of their Steak Tartare, which is fabulous. I never though I would enjoy raw beef like carpaccio or steak tartare, but I tried it at Tini’s and it’s sooo buttery and lovely. A while later, we ordered another dessert: house made vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over it. The espresso wasn’t made very well, but it was a nice concept that I would do again.

Whew. Total was 7 courses and 2 restuarants, but 10 if you count the amuse-bouches – 4 continuous hours of eating and drinking. This dinner was bittersweet. We loved every minute of it, but it’s kinda like crack – I already can’t wait to do it again…and I have to keep telling myself that I can’t.

The next day we met my friends for brunch at the Cheesecake Factory (not my choice) and Brian commented that everything we ate last night could probably fit on one Cheesecake Factory plate. I think all of the food by weight we ate at Gracie’s is equal to one of their gigantic portions. Gross.

At the end of my summer internship, I am getting paid a substantial bonus so I was thinking about what special thing to buy myself with some of my bonus money before saving the rest: a Louis Vuitton wallet? a netbook? I decided: dinner at moto. Going to one of those restaurants is one of my life goals, so I figured why not just do it? It’ll happen sometime after September, so I’ll keep you updated.


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