My dinner the week before last with dear friend Kate at The Book Bindery was exactly that--ethereal and evocative--and is quickly becoming the latter--blurry, happy memory... so before it fades any more, here's a quick rundown of the evening.
(Since I'm pretty sure you didn't tuck this into your memory banks, Kate is the friend who took me to Tilth last year, after we went wedding dress shopping for her Big Day... Look how late THAT post was--MONTHS late. See how I've improved? P.S. Kate always finds the coolest places to take me.)
So we started with drinks... Kate had a customized martini, I think with lemon and ginger? (See, memory is fading so soon...)
While I stuck with the non-alc, but entirely refreshing cucumber-mint-lime tonic. It was very good.
The amuse-bouche: a shot of chilled spring pea soup, with basil oil. I could have eaten an entire bowl!
Somewhere in the evening, we had to take pictures, right?
Kate looking lovely and rested from her recent Southeast Asian honeymoon!
I would say the one surprise of the menu for me was the dirth of vegetarian options. I'm not a vegetarian, per se, but I often choose an option that leans that direction, especially in starters and/or salad courses. I already knew, going into the evening, that if the beef option had an arrangement/sides that I liked, I would be partaking happily.
So, as no starter really shouted "Eat me!" we turned to the cheese course to start (which was listed with the desserts). I'm a well-documented cheese hound, so this worked well for me. As you can see from the picture below, there were three presentations, all in their own little world, quite independent. The homemade graham cracker in the upper right, under the strawberries, paired the the blue cheese--that was amazing. But then, the whole plate was delicious...
Kate opted for the pan roasted mad hatcher's chicken with grilled chicories, vanilla-parsnip purée and black currant jus.
And I stuck with my beef-love and had the Mishima Ranch “Flavor Curve” with confit potatoes, creamed nettles, King trumpet mushrooms and bordelaise sauce. (You can see the beef looks a little rare. I did ask for medium, but it was a more than a bit rarer than medium... but very good.) I was able to create one of my Perfect Bite scenarios over and over, with a little potato, a little nettles (I thought of you, Kim!), a little beef and some bordelaise. It was delightful.
What's an evening out without a sweet ending?! Knowing that we were headed into a long night of royal wedding watching, we decided we needed fortification and chose two desserts that we shared.
Grapefruit granita with coconut cakes (I couldn't find the more descriptive/elaborate menu online, so you're stuck with my memory here...): I could have eaten a much bigger bowl of the granita but the coconut cakes, which was the real pull for me here, didn't deliver in texture and flavor to the same extent...
Churros and chocolate pot de creme: The churros came warm and were quite delicious. The pot de creme was equally delightful and I put some pot de creme on some churro and the combination was really fabulous.
I know, you're thinking in the way I just described those desserts: Did Kate get to eat any of those, Sher? It sounds like you pretty much cleaned the plates... Well, you may be right. This is one of those moments where the memory has faded, quite handily... But in my defense, Kate is less dessert-y than most, and is fully capable of smacking my hand away if I'm eating more of her portion than I should. So I'm pretty sure she ended up with as much of the sweets as she wanted. At least I hope so.
As we were winding up our meal, Kate thought I should take a picture of the kitchen, as it was wide open on your walk by to the restrooms. It seemed like a good idea until I was actually doing it and then I got all shy and furtive, and ended up with a giant finger (I swear that's what that is) in front of my iPhone. Not exactly cut out for spy work, am I?
We retired to Kate and Tony's place, not far away, visited for a bit, then got a couple of hours sleep. At 2 a.m. we arose, put some tea on, and watched the Big Event. We were awake through the ceremony, and then napped after the Buckingham Palace viewing (and kissing), and then truly slept for a bit after that.
Really, a quite wonderful evening with a memorable meal at The Book Bindery, made better by the company, for sure.