July 10, 2009

A second day of birthday dinners

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I'm dining out again tonight with a group of friends. Originally it was to be a belated celebration for my birthday, but subsequently turned into a birthday dinner for another friend as well as an early celebration (by a day) for G - a triple birthday dinner. I would be going back to the Green Mouse for more of Dimitri's cuisine.

Once again I'm puzzled by the staff's reluctance to provide each of us with a menu. The restaurant's not exactly packed with customers, so why didn't I get a menu when there was a stack of them right next to me?

I brought a bottle of the 1995 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon, a favorite wine of a couple of my friends. The wine has now become pretty mellow, with a smoky nose, a bit of mint and a hint of green pepper. There's a solid fruit core but not overly sweet. Very smooth on the palate.

We were given a thin slice of duck and pistachio terrine as the amuse bouche, which was OK but just a tad salty.

Since I didn't try it out last time, I ordered the chef's specialty foie gras trio. This would consist of pan-fried, crème brûlée, and terrine variations. The crème brûlée was OK and a little bit fun, while the pan-fried pieces were kinda so-so... The terrine was rolled with a piece of nori seaweed, and went nicely with the toast. Execution was OK, but it was quite a bit of foie.

I ordered the special duet of lamb as it sounded pretty good. The leg of Pyrénées lamb was done the traditional way with rosemary, but honestly this isn't my favorite preparation. The pan-fried New Zealand rack of lamb, in contrast, was very yummy. Those of us who ordered it knew exactly why we all preferred the rack - all that delicious, succulent caramelized fat.

I tried to be good and leave some of the fat on the plate, but couldn't resist picking up the bones and stripping them bare with my teeth. The scene is familiar - one that two others at the table had witnessed all those years ago across the oceans in Napa. Once again special mention has to be made about the very yummy sides on the plate. There was just so much variety - broccoli; caramelized shallots; snap peas; a roll made from sliced zucchini; a dollop of pumpkin mash; roasted potato; potato gâteau; cherry tomato and mushrooms.

I took the lemon tart for dessert, as it's nice to have something like this to finish up the meal. Pretty yummy.

It's a shame that the service here just fell flat. The waitstaff was just completely clueless... with each question posed, they would have to go ask the manager. They didn't know the specials of the day, nor they did seem capable of doing very much other than bringing and taking away trays.

I think we are all getting old... Three couples celebrating three birthdays on a Friday night, ending their evening out with dinner and nothing else afterwards! Sigh...

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