April 5, 2019

Leisurely holiday lunch

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It all started with a friend posting about her meal at a recently-opened restaurant.  She asked if anyone wanted to go with her, and I put up my hand.  Then we roped in our friend KC, and the next thing I knew, I found myself lunching at Roganic today sitting across from... the owner.

I had known since late last year that Simon Rogan was opening restaurants in town, thanks to PR8.  Actually I found myself seated at the same table as Simon at a dinner last year, although I was half-heartedly thwarting PR8's attempts to identify me to the chef.  After Aulis opened I also repeatedly rebuffed PR8's efforts to get me to join one of his organized tastings, as I prefer to wait until new restaurants are on track and then go on my own dime.

So I was expecting to be under the radar today, and a little flustered to find myself in the situation I was in.  Then we had to run into Curry and Salad on their date lunch...

We decided to take the short tasting menu today, which was just fine with me.  I could do with fewer calories these days.

Pumpkin, nashi pear, bay leaf - the pumpkin tarts came with pumpkin purée, Japanese pear jelly, bay leaves, and topped with flakes of pumpkin seeds and bay leaf powder.  There was a surprising dose of acidity along with the expected sweetness, and almost a hint of fermented flavors.  Definitely tasted the Japanese pear.

Wafer, fermented mushroom puree, yeast - this was OK.  The cream cheese was pretty thick, the fermented mushroom purée was fine, and there were a few dots of truffle cream on top along with what looked like pea tendrils.

Truffle pudding

Soda bread and cultured butter - I must admit that I've never had "traditional" Irish soda bread before, and to me this was pretty much like a muffin... kinda sweet overall with a sugary crust on top.

Aged raw beef, oyster, caper - the diced cubes of raw beef were dressed in coal oil, which gave it a smoky flavor.  Interestingly it came with oyster emulsion, pickled carrots, slightly caramelized roasted pearl onions, and sunflower seeds.  There was some kind of mash at the bottom that was a little bitter, and to me that kinda ruined the dish.

Grilled salad, Westcombe cheese, truffle - pretty decent blistered vegetables and dehydrated kale came with a cheese custard and shaved slices of truffle.

Codfish, broccoli, roast bone - broccoli purée, diced broccoli stems, and spinach were hidden underneath the roast bone sauce that delivered a bit of acidity.  The cod was, naturally, very tender and succulent.

Duck with turnip, spiced red vinegar - one look at the color and we all knew this was overcooked.  Yes, it still looked pink, but it should have come rosé.  This was disappointing, as the kitchen was obviously bending to local preferences and cooking the bird more than they should.  Still tasty, though.  The ducks were dry-aged in house for 16 days.  Served with burnt leeks and slices of turnips.

The duck leg ragout came topped with potato purée.  This was very, very good... basically a parmentier.  Sooo rich and obviously salty for your average Asian palate, but damn!

Strawberries and cream - buttermilk custard at the bottom with "Japanese strawberries", topped with buttermilk snow as well as strawberry kombucha snow and Atsina Cress.

Ever the pain-in-the-ass, I asked the pastry chef what kind of strawberries were used, and she replied "Japanese strawberries".  No shit, Sherlock... She asked someone else, and the second answer was "Fukuoka strawberries".  Well, that still doesn't tell me which cultivar it was, so they dug the carton out of the garbage pile to show us, and I saw the word Amaou (あまおう) written on the side of the carton.  Mystery solved.

Stout, molasses, burnt milk - the Guinness Stout ice cream was smoky, and the coffee molasses on top was very rich.  Loved the visual of the burnt milk skin.

Doughnut - this was supposed to come with pine sugar, but I really needed to concentrate to even make myself think that there was a hint of pine here.  Not bad as a doughnut, though.

Tunworth cheese, hazelnut, cranberry - this was delicious!  I joked about it looking like serradura, but the topping was toasted hazelnut powder.  The cheese delivered savory and sweet flavors simultaneously, while some fruitiness came in the form of raspberry (or so I was told) jam at the bottom.  Kinda like a cheesecake, except that the crust is now on top and the fruity topping now gets buried at the bottom.

Final nibble with cherries.
Hello Kitty came back from Kyoto last night, and brought with her boxes of macarons from Pierre Hermé.  This was meant to be a Kyoto special, even though Envie already exists as a slightly different combination of flavors.  This particular mix was cassis, violet, and white chocolate ganache.  This was OK.

This being a holiday today, and as I had already gone to work in the morning and wasn't due back in the office again until tomorrow, we decided to open up a few bottles which were on the cheap-and-cheerful side.

2015 Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc - good, crisp acidity, but also with nice ripeness on the palate as well as on the nose.

2012 Dujac Morey Saint-Denis Blanc - surprisingly very ripe on the palate, almost over-ripe.  Big and toasty nose with flint.

1973 Batailley - decanted just prior to serving.  Smoky and grilled meat notes, with a little sweet grass.  This was meh.

Not a bad way to spend the afternoon on a day off. The food was reasonably good, and given the price point I certainly had no complaints. Maybe one of these days I'll manage to sneak into Aulis without alerting PR8...

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