Escargot – roasted garlic cream sauce and fried parsley
Steak Frites Top sirloin – pommes frites, roasted shallot and veal demi glace
Tres Leches – three milk cake with whipped cream frosting
“You look familiar,” Cavé Vin’s owner said as we stepped up to claim our table. We love being recognized by restaurant owners, never mind that we had been standing in that exact same spot not even 48 hours earlier, with identical wide grins and googlie eyes in anticipation of his kitchen’s beguiling Restaurant Week menu. Plus, if I may say so, I have unforgettable googlie eyes. And I might have been wearing the same pants.
There were no offers of generous, free wine samples this time, but as one person in our party didn’t drink and I was still recovering from a bout of self-diagnosed ‘Wine Flu’, it really wasn’t missed. Indeed, I can’t remember the last time I had such an incredible meal that wasn’t substantially lubed up with a carefully considered wine pairing. I couldn’t have planned it better, really. Not only did I have three companions ordering cooperatively this evening so I could get a gander at most of the remainder of the menu, but pretty much everything was prepared to stuttering perfection. It was a critical mass of awesomely goodness, that one usually needs to board a transatlantic flight in order to attain.
I went for the escargot as a starter. It was by far my biggest risk of the week. I’d never had escargot before and the numerous you-love-it-or-you-hate-it stories I’d heard from other people had made me powerfully curious, yet just a touch uneasy. Well, being that there was no mustard, pickles or olives involved, I worried for nothing. It was only moderately chewy – I actually enjoyed the texture – and the singular way that it fused with the roasted garlic cream sauce incited the first audible ‘oh God’ of the evening in record time.
The other starters at the table were the highly addictive and dangerously filling “Garlic Frites with aioli”, an encore appearance from the “Beet and Roasted Fennel Salad Dijon vinaigrette”, again, loved by all except me, and the “Mixed greens, warm goat cheese, roasted grapes, hazelnuts and red wine vinaigrette”, the only starter to not visibly impair the diner with transcendent pleasure.
Now if you’ve been reading carefully, you know I lean towards the meat. Any meat. If it ever ate, slept, shat, fornicated and/or moved under its own power, I eat it. Which brings us to beef, my favorite meat. What with my meager income, I don’t get to eat a lot of beef in general, so when I get beef I get excited. When I get good beef, I get euphoric. When I get great beef, well, I go straight home and I write a 100 word, babbling digression about how much I love beef.
Cavé Vin’s top sirloin was the motherload. Nearly two inches thick at its center, tender, juicy, meaty and perfectly prepared. The veal demi glace was one of those show-stopping concoctions that I’ve tried and failed to recreate at home countless times. I fell into a reverie at the first bite and I was nearly half way through before I snapped out of it and remembered that I had the roasted shallot and fries to attend to. I had all but stopped talking to my companions. This was the kind of beef that I only get about once a year and I wasn’t going to mess it up by trying to talk and savor at the same time.
And it wasn’t just me, my companions also had all-consuming entrées that had temporarily reduced them to distracted mumbling. The “Chicken Breast Prosciutto Fontina with sautéed vegetables and tomato herb sauce”, which I sampled from liberally, poked an entirely different area of my brain’s pleasure center, but with similar gratifying effect. The wonderful sauce had saturated the juicy chicken and all the festively colored veg, so pretty much everything tasted like rapture. The “Lamb Shank Potato Puree, mirepoix, gremolata and lamb demi” reappeared and was of the same fall-off-the-bone, non-greasy perfection as Monday’s effort. Only the “Pork Loin Chop Fingerling Potatoes, roasted peaches and bacon with balsamic and orange reductions” didn’t ring bells, due mostly to, as the diner readily admitted, personal texture preferences. Though the micro bits of bacon hidden in the sauce, the roasted peaches and the herb rub on the pork itself were all given high praise.
I finished with the Tres Leches cake, as did another at our table and we both agreed it was about the best we’d ever had. My other two companions ordered the plum ginger sorbet, that was loved for being “tangy, tart and gingery,” adjectives that have also, incidentally, been used to extol my exquisite booty.
I’m still a little bit in awe of the entire meal and I’m moving my stock around (I only have just the one in “Curse Words from Around the World” refrigerator magnets) so as to hopefully fund another meal at Cavé Vin in the very near future.
I’m awarding this dinner five “Oh Gods” out of five! Woo hoo!!
The fixed price dinner is $30.
Cavé Vin’s full Restaurant Week dinner menu is posted here.