Saturday, August 20, 2005

One if by Land, Two if by Sea

I had been looking forward to dining at One if by Land since LdyMlissa and I had first spoken of it. I love tasting menus. In my experience, they are a wonderful way to get to know the chef's abilities and talents, while tasting a wide variety of menu choices.

OIBL did not disappoint at all. We entered the restaurant, a quiet, nondescript storefront in the middle of the block. At first my daughter wasn't sure - "There's no name!" - but a glance at the menu outside proved to her we were where we wanted to be.

After a long, hot walk (my sense of direction is terrible, I need a compass on my person at all times), the darkened, cool interior of the restaurant was just what we needed. We had made reservations, of course, so we were seated immediately upstairs, overlooking the dining room downstairs. We were offered menus and I am ashamed to say I didn't even glance at mine. We knew what we wanted!

The amouse bouche that arrived, along with our sparkling water and the wine for our first course, was a simple affair of flavored goat cheese on a toast round. Just right for starting one's appetite.

Our first course was a lovely little dish of tuna tartare, foie gras and caramelized pineapple. I believe it was the first time any of us had foie gras. My daughter mistook it for grilled tuna and ate it in one bite, only to find out she was wrong. Foie gras, might I say, does not really impress me! The riesling that accompanied the dish was from the Fingerlakes Region of New York and is one I would like to add to my wine list at home.

The second course was a spice roasted lobster and what a nice little morsel that was. Perfectly seasoned, with tender bits of asparagus on the plate.

The third course could have been a meal all by itself. I'm still surprised Ro finished it! I've never been very thrilled when it comes to clams, but these worked very well with the dish, which was grouper on top of pasta with a clam sauce.

The fourth course was one none of us were very impressed by, however - one stumbling block in an otherwise perfect menu. Rabbit Basteeya is, apparently, shredded rabbit formed into a block and served with an apricot coulis. We were told it was a traditional celebratory Moroccan dish and that "many people" do not care for the mix of meat and fruit. Now, since I tend to cook my meats using cinnamon and fruit, that didn't quite hold. The plain fact was that the apricot coulis was just far too sweet and overpowered the rabbit. The wine that accompanied the course was a very dry red that did go far to help cut the sweetness of the apricot, but not far enough. And, of course, since Ro is only 12, she did not have the assistance of the wine in tempering the flavors of the dish. Again, however, the course itself could have sufficed as an entire meal!

Our entree was very impressive. Roo chose the rack of lamb and that was the only dish I remembered to take a picture of. I snapped a fast one because, well - that flash of light in a dark and intimate restaurant is somewhat jarring. You can see how prettily it was presented here:

LdyMlissa and I chose the beef wellington. The filling around the beef was a touch on the mushy side for me, but the flavors were wonderful.

The entree was followed by an 'exploratore cheese mousse' that was accompanied by a bit of frisee salad. I would have liked to have seen a touch more green on the plate, as the meal was very fish/meat heavy, but the cheese was delightful.

Ah, and then there was dessert. Both Roo and LdyMlissa ordered the chocolate souffle and oh, my. The large souffles were brought to the table where they were punctured and warm chocolate sauce drizzled in. I ordered the chocolate trio, and was just as pleased with my choice, though I do believe the look of sheer pleasure on their faces could not be surpassed. We are talking chocolate here, after all!

The server came up to us with a creme brulee, which she placed on the table. "I overheard you ladies talking about how much you liked creme brulee. This is compliments of the chef," she said (or along those lines - it was a few days ago now!). What a fun creme brulee that was, with a flavor like toasted marshmallow, without the mess!

Three hours, many courses and glasses of wine later, we left the restaurant to wander back to our room. I'm planning on returning as soon as I can, with my husband, for a quiet romantic dinner.

(and I'll fix this post as soon as I figure out how to do special characters - missing the accent on a few words here!)

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