It shows absolutely no sign of appearing here in Las Vegas. The high for the next three days is supposed to be 104 (after 102 today) . Very abnormal for us to be having these stretches of high temps this late in the year. We did have a one day tease in the 80s. Sure do wish we were seeing more of that...
P & J Oyster Co. (the country's oldest--134 years--and, to most of the restaurant industry, the best) provider of Gulf oysters had planned to stop shucking at the close of business today. I'm off to NOLA on Saturday. I almost dread what I may hear and see while I am there.
Well, the only reason you might want to go would be as a basis for comparison. The Tuesday market has a 'broader' appeal (read: it is much less expensive with more 'standard' variety produce and things liked fried dough and cotton candy for the kids). The Batali market is higher end. With some of the same vegetables (and farmers) that the better restaurants in town use. The quality and selection is by far superior to the Tuesday market.
Why or why do I go against my golden rule--never go to a restaurant that has been open less than three months. And, my second golden rule--don't go near the Strip just before New Year's. I did both yesterday when a couple of friends and I went to Julian Serrano at Aria for lunch. The venue bears the name of it's Spanish born chef, Julian Serrano. Formerly the chef of highly acclaimed Masa in San Francisco and currently of Picasso at the Bellagio. The restaurant arcs around a two-thirds-of-a-horseshoe shaped bar and is open to the atrium/lobby area of the new Aria Hotel at Project City center. The attractive space is open, with high ceilings, bright colors and shiny laquer and tile surfaces. We were seated in the bar area, where a floor to ceiling wall of yellow, salmon, orange, pink and crimson vertical tiles backing the bar and back walls provides a vibrant dynamic. The restaurant was designed by the well thought of Spanish design group of Gente de Valor. This is their first project in the US. While it is very attractive, all those hard surfaces-tile on the floor as well as some of the walls-makes the noise level an issue. It seems to 'trap and release' the noise of both the restaurant and the lobby it opens on to. Speaking to anyone who was not seated next to you required extra volume. The extent of the effort seemed to ebb and flow with the level of traffic in the lobby.
Going back to his Spanish roots, Serrano has centered the menu around tapas and paellas, some with a molecular or deconstructed twist. Bravas Botatoes, Spanish Chicken Croquettas and Pinxtos de Chorizo share billing with a lobster-pineapple skewer, described as lobster tail with 'molecular' pineapple (which we wanted to try, but, couldn't-more on that shortly) and Mediterranean Stew in Deconstruction.
Drinks ordered at the same time were delivered willy nilly. A white sangria, which appeared first was flat and lifeless. A couple of sodas arrived a few minutes later. And, lastly, during the first round of tapas (about 10 minutes later), a Ginger Pear Julep-unbearably sweet and seemingly made in the glass without being mixed. The limited list of wines and sherries by the glass appear to be the better option if our experience is any barometer.
As we began our order, the first four items we wanted to try were 'sold out'. Not only had our waitress not informed us of any menu items that might not be available, but, it became a theme as we continued to try to work our way through the menu. Lobster-Pineapple Skewer-nope, sold out. Tuna-Raspberry Skewer, nope, sold out. Codfish pinxto-no, again. You get the idea. By the end of the meal, we ended up with a total of 9 dishes that were unavailable because they had 'run out'. There may have been more, but, since we had to play "Guess what we may actually have" with our server, who knows. What time were we dining you might ask. How about 1 pm. The restaurant was busy, but, had only been serving for 1 1/2 hours. As we were paying the check, I asked our server if this was normal for the restaurant. When she answered "yes", I was floored. The explanation was that they only recieve some of their Mediterranean sourced product every two days. So, when they are out, they are out. Hmmm. Since this was the norm, don't ya think it might be time to increase the amout of product you are purchasing. Rather than just tell your customers you've run out?
On to the food (and a bit more about the service). We ordered in three rounds. The dishes arrived quickly and at the proper temperatures. The runners had a bad habit of arriving with new plates before removing empty plates. Standing there holding the new dish hostage until the diner picked up the empty plate and held it out for a swap. Other times, they tried to sweep away dishes that were only half consumed. We had wanted another round of drinks, but, couldn't seem to get anyone to take our order. Water glasses became empty and to get them refilled almost required a body block.
Round One Brava Potatoes/spicy tomato/aioli sauce-The spice element was lacking in the sauce as was any crunch to the potatoes. Pan Manchego-toasted bread/fresh tomato sauce/one year old Manchego. Very good-high props to the bread. Traditional Spanish Chicken Croquetas-While nicely fried, the chicken/bechamel filling was dry and chalky.
Round Two Stuffed Dates-Almond/Applewood Bacon wrap/spicy piquillo pepper/chorizo-Very nice, good balance of flavors. Octopus-Cachela/Spanish paprika-the octopus rounds were of uneven thickness. Some were tender, some quite chewy. Nicely flavored dish though. Tuna Tiradito/ahi tuna/ponzu sauce/seaweed/rocoto pepper sauce. Three, good quality slices of ahi with just enough of the accompaniments to make a nicely balanced dish.
Round Three Imported Spanish 'Pata Negra' ham-excellent, and served with toasted bread. Cheese Platter-Cana de Cabra:soft goat milk murcia/manchego 1 year old: La Mancha/La Serena soft sheeps milk extremasdura Crema Catalan-excellent rendition
While my overall first experience at Julian Serrano was underwhelming, I defintely think the restaurant has serious potential once they work through the opening issues. I will go back again. And, I will remind myself to follow my own Golden Rule.
Another delightful meal here. Top quality, gorgeous fish. Interesting appetizers. Very good rice. Lovely dessert. Service was excellent, the chef is just wonderful, and the bar is comfortable. Really can't ask for more than this in a high end sushi place. A pleasure in every way. But most especially the company.
Evelyn: this one goes on your list for NYC for sure.
Officially added to the list...now all I need to do is figure in a visit to NYC!!
DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU ARE WATCHING THE TOURNAMENT!!! IT IS BEING BROADCAST ON A TAPE DELAY!!!
Okay, it took 4 playoff holes (three of which were not pretty) but Tiger wins his fourth tournament in a row . If he gets some sleep on the jet to and from the K Club, it could be 5 in a row since heis playing the Deutsche Bank this coming week.
After noticing another post under the Per Se thread about the lack of posts about the FL, I decided to make this my first post on Mouthfuls. After a lengthy closure to do some work on the kitchen, plumbing and air conditioning, the kitchen and dining room crew have come back ready to please.
The kitchen offered to cook for us, so, we never saw a menu. For the curious, both Thomas and Doug were in the kitchen, and if our dishes were any indication, there is harmony in the kitchen.
I am still trying to find my wine notes... Paul Roberts chose two wonderful burgundies (a '98 Mersault and '99 Chambolle Musigny) that were not on the wine list for us to enjoy...also, a half bottle of Krug and a lovely sauterne (I think '86 Lafon) to go with the foie course.
A postively stellar meal for the two of us:
Cepes Soup served warm...rich both in mouth feel and taste
Carrot Soup with madras curry creme and carrot pearls served cold...wonderful bright carrot flavor lightly touched by the curry flavor.
Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Iranian Osetra Caviar
Oysters and Pearls
Dungeness Crab atop a cucumber round topped with fennel salad and microgreens, drizzles of basil oil and a dusting of fennel powder. A lovely, fresh piece of crab as the centerpiece, complimented by the fennel flavors.
Cuttlefish 'Salad' with squid ink and microgreens-ever so tender julienned cuttlefish dressed with an ink based vinaigrette and topped with greens.
Pickled Truffled Egg with Truffle Reduction
White Truffle Egg Custard
Fennel Carrot Salad (didn't get a taste of this dish)
Asparagus Nicoise-Four beautifully roasted asparagus topped with a nicoise olive vinaigrette.
Tagliatelle with Perigord Summer Truffle- Oh My Goodness course...perfectly cooked pasta tossed with a wonderfully rich beurre monte sauce studded with truffle and then more truffle shaved tableside.
Sweet Summer Corn Agnolotti with Perigord Truffles and White Corn Pudding- One of my favorite FL summer dishes...again perfectly prepared pasta the pockets filled with corn and truffle touched mascaarpone...again more truffle tableside.
Chaud Lobster- Perfectly butter poached lobster tail served atop potatoes tossed with lobster, tarragon vinaigrette and napped with lobster foam.
Sweet Butter Poached lobster (the claws and a touch of tail meat) with summmer corn pudding, chanterelle mushrooms and Applewood smoked bacon...ever so good...the earthiness of the chanterelles touched with the bacon and the light corn pudding all adding a wonderful dimension to the lobster.
Salt crust cooked Japanese Medai for two arrived at the table in tact, whisked away to return fileted and served with a a fumet dotted with tomato, carrot and fennel. The flesh perfectly moist.
Roasted Foie for two: Again brought to the table whole in a lovely copper roaster, dispappearing to return in the form a thick slices, also perfectly cooked. Served with a roasted King George IV peach, and a touch of thyme. Also accomapanied by a selection of salts: ukeshio (snow salt from Japan); amobitonomisha (salt of men of the sea, culled from 50 ft. long pieces pf seaweed); Hawaiian salt (from Kaui); hannapepe (a second Hawaiian salt...a darker orange than the first and more pronounced flavor); Jurassic salt (from Montana); Fleur de sel; sel gris; Kona salt (a beautiful obsidian color). Positively wonderful course!
Roasted Sweetbreads topped by a fist sized morel served over sauteed baby lettuced and peach glacage. Perfectly crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. Sweetbreads as they should be.
Snake River Ranch Calotte of grilled beef, Hen of the woods mushrooms, wilted spinach and crispy bone marrow with Bordelaise Mignonette... slices of medium rare, tender beef with a hint of smoke from the grill surrounded by the large pieces of mushrooms. I especially loved the bone marrow "croquettes".
White Peach Sorbet Sandwich-the sorbet between shortbread cookies.
Cassis Sorbet-wonderfully flavored
I did not write down the two cheeses we were served
Raspberry Macaroon with fresh Middleton Farms Raspberries and Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Silverado Trail Strawberry Shortcake with Mascarpone Shebert, Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream over warm Vanilla Sponge Cake.
The French Laundry seems to have picked up where it left off after my least meal there in November...I can't wait to return in the fall!