Dinner at The Kitchen, Round 2

Ever since our first dinner at The Kitchen half a year ago, David and I have been dying to go back. However, because the dinner is quite pricey at around $150 per person, we had to make our next visit count.

Tonight, we finally went back. Our friend from work Cesa and his fiancee Cindy joined us. Good friends and fantastic food made for a special night.

David and I were going to skip any alcoholic drinks and stick to water, but he changed his mind as soon as we sat down. He ordered us a $45 bottle of Richmond Plains, while Cesa and Cindy selected the Rombauer chardonnay.

Strawberry and mint shooters were passed around to whet our appetites, after which we were encouraged to walk around and sample the appetizers in the back kitchen.

Finally, 45 minutes after we walked in, the show started.

First Course
Brooklyn’s Fruit
Green Tea-Cured California Halibut
Pickled Local Cherries, Shiso Granita, Rose Hips, Ginger and Hibiscus

Chef’s Notes: The earliest known arrival of the cherry to North America was around 1630, when it was brought by Dutch settlers to Brooklyn, New York, then referred to as New Netherland. From humble beginnings, this beloved fruit has come to be almost synonymous with summertime. In honor of the beginning of summer, we present our celebration of cherries. Cozied alongside green tea-cured California Halibut and a refreshing shiso granita, we think it’s time to say, “Hello Summer.”

Good start. This dish was light and set the path for better things to come. The halibut was fresh, almost raw.

Second Course
Spanish Immigrants
Artichoke and Acorn Ravioli
Summer Chanterelles, Parmesan and Lemon Confit

Chef’s Notes: Much like the large blooms of mustard during the late winter months here in California, a holdover from its introduction by Spanish monks, so is it with the most Californian of vegetables, the artichoke. Introduced to the Monterey Peninsula in the 19thcentury, Castroville now produces 80% of the artichokes consumed in the United States. With focus on this incredible bounty, here is our artichoke ravioli wrapped in nutty acorn pasta and served alongside summer chanterelle mushrooms. We hope you enjoy this prickly little delight as much as we do.

I am aware that the foam (“parm cream” per the container they were scooping it out og) looks weird, but from what I learned last time, dishes with foam are the best. This supported that theory.

David declared it to be his favorite and shed a happy tear.

Walk around. Visit and sample at chef stations.
Enjoy our garden patio. Relax by the fire.

There were fewer appetizers this time compared to our first visit. Probably for the best because I would not have been able to control myself and ruined my appetite. I picked only three things: an avocado, mint, and cucumber shooter; gourmet SPAM musubi, and a boat of asparagus.

David was braver and sampled more than I did.

Chef Kelly personally brought us a plate of freshly shucked Hog Island oysters, which they picked themselves twice a week, if I remember correctly.

Third Course
Mosquito Supper 
Butter “Fried” Soft Shell Crab

Green Tomato Beurre Blanc, Maque Choux, and Piquillo Peppers

Chef’s Notes: Embracing the unique culinary history of United States, Chef Kelly is taking inspiration from one of his friends, Chef Melissa Martin of Mosquito Supper Club in Terrebone Parish, Louisiana. With our local corn beginning, we wanted to bring you the flavors of an originally Native American dish with Creole influences – Maque Choux. Straddling atop this delicious braised corn is a butter “fried” soft shell crab, lazily resting in a pool of piquant green tomato beurre blanc. Ca c’est bon!!

Despite our excitement for the soft shell crab, this dish was our least favorite. The crab itself was a crunchy treat, but we weren’t as fond of the maque choux. The flavors were too rich, especially following two previous light dishes.

That’s not to say the dish was bad. Not at all. Just not what we expected, and that’s okay. We were only halfway through the night.

Fourth Course
World Traveler
Butter Poached Beef Tenderloin
Smoked Morel Mushrooms, Charred “Pole” Beans, Candied Garlic and Bacon Lardons

Chef’s Notes: Consider if you will the humble bean – Phaseolus Vulgaris. Or maybe it’s not so humble. Currently grown on every continent in the world with the exception of Antarctica, one might consider the bean a pillar of human culture, but we just consider them delicious. Taking advantage of our late spring and early summer heat, we feature a mélange of “pole” beans tossed with candied garlic and bacon lardons. We finish off with the king of the Sierras, the Grey Morel Mushroom, placed atop our succulent butter poached beef tenderloin. Enjoy.

As usual, the center of the cut melts in your mouth. The meat had been prepared 24 hours earlier, and then soaked in butter for another four hours prior to the show. Simply chewing it was orgasmic.

Honestly, even if the tenderloin was served without the bacon lardons, candied garlic, pole beans, and Grey Morel mushrooms, I still would have eaten it by itself. It was that amazing.

Dessert Course
Alexander and the Great Apricot
Apricot and Frangipane Torte
Elderflowers, Almond Daqouise and Blackberries

Chef’s Notes: Though its first origins are disputed, we do know that Alexander the Great introduced the apricot to Greece, thus opening a gateway to the world for this incredible harbinger of stone fruit season. Pairing alongside the “fruit” of another noble tree, the almond, we bring you this incredible taste of early summer. With the fragrance of elderberries and the tangy sweetness of blackberries, we couldn’t think of a better way to ease into the season. Bon appetit!

This was a fun dish to watch as it was made. The construction of this dessert was mesmerizing and intriguing, from Chef Kelly expertly sliding a wet hot spoon into a bowl of creme fraiche and plopping a smooth dollop onto the tarte, to the “sails/fins” being installed, to the petals carefully placed around the plate with tweezers.

After dessert, complimentary herbal tisanes were offered. The Kitchen Restaurant has a post about how the Sellands came upon the idea. I skipped it because I was already drinking coffee, but David ordered the Signature tisane made of basil, mint, and lemongrass.

Finally, to finish the feast, we all got plates of small sweets to snack on. Since we were already stuffed, we didn’t partake in the macaroons, caramel popcorn, or tart. We did take sips of the richest hot chocolate in the world.

At 10:20 PM, we left the restaurant, all the while thinking about our next visit.