I had dinner with Toocherie last night at the second seating.
I arrived early to make use of a "free" makeover at Sephora and to pick up a sample of something I need for my upcoming trip. "Tracy," who knows me by name now, and I had a pleasant time--she talked me OUT of a purchase. Shocking, I know.
I was still early so headed over to the lounge. It was packed so I tooked one of the two remaining seats at the bar and texted Toocherie where to find me, staking a claim to the remaining chair. I then got to listen to a jerk assault the staff and management about their inability to accommodate him in the restaurant, the lounge, the patio, or "upstairs" (??). Then he was distressed he couldn't take a bar chair out of the bar and use it elsewhere. Dude, they are called reservations! Get one. Or an attitude adjustment.
Someone moved him on and I was able to relax although I realized "my" chair had disappeared with him! I talked to my bartender, Raymond, about the new specialty drinks on the menu, trying to get his recommendation. Oddly, several of the names on these seemed to have changed since my last trip, so it was hard to remember what I'd sampled from Toocherie's glass. Ultimately he asked me what I usually drank. Gin, I said, sometimes bourbon. Nothing too sweet.
He left and shortly returned with a cocktail garnished with...wait for it...CUCUMBER! Sadly I fear that both public fine dining establishments in the DLR will have my picture up soon, because I couldn't help laughing out loud when I saw it. It was named the Mandara Spa. Tom style gin (a little sweeter than regular gin); ginger liquor; St. Germaine elderflower liquor, celery bitters; and rounded out with a little agave syrup. It was very nice. Not too sweet, not too strong. A client said drinking it reminder her of being in the spa, thus the name.
A chair had been vacated by the time Toocherie arrived. She had the Painted Crystal which I think has one of those more refined tequilas in it but I can't remember what else. She had it last time and we both preferred it over the zombie style drink she had also ordered last time (which now seems to go by the name the Bitter Storm).
We got over to our chairs at about 8:45, along with a couple on their first visit to the counter. Chef Sutton was on vacation; Chef Alex was running the kitchen. There were lots of new faces in the kitchen, presumably due to shifts over to Carthay Circle, but food service was running well all the time we were there.
Our server was Wendy (from Never Never Land, per her name badge). I've had her before and enjoy her. She was fairly chatty, which was a relief. I'm sometimes afraid we frighten the staff with our shenanigans. Chef Alex asked where the other ladies were?, which didn't lessen my sense that our behavior is, um, memorable at times.
Anyhoo, we both put ourselves in his hands for the tasting menu with few limits. Neither of us wanted the pheasant stuffed zuchhini blossoms again and there was a duck dish that I wanted to try. And of course we like to choose our own desserts.
The amuse bouche was lump crab rolled in a watermelon radish "wrapper" laced with a prickly pear reduction. Well, you know they had me at watermelon radish. I could have gone home right then.
Somehow we found the strength to go on.
We each got salad as a first course. Toocherie had an heirloom tomato with lemon thyme mozzerella, avocado, and a dressing I can't remember. I think at this point I had a lobster and champage salad which was frisee and endive, lobster, champagne vinaigrette, candied walnuts, caviar, and champagne bubbles (froth). There was some lemon creme fraiche something in there as well. It was garnished with what turned out to be baby tendrils from an Italian green bean. It was most excellent and I'm not a big lobster fan. A waiter tried to take it before I had scraped off the last bit--that didn't go well.
Toocherie then got the striped sea bass in yellow tomato reduction; it was beautifully plated. I got the duck. I had ordered it because it came with chanterelles and fresh corn, in a corn sauce. In hindsight, I should have just asked for a plate of corn and mushrooms. The duck was good, but it just prevented me from having more of what I really wanted: delicious vegetables!
For entree, Toocherie received a really beautiful filet that fell apart with a fork. There was baked kohlrabi with it, I think, but I can't remember what other vegetables. On the side were some simmered Santa Rosa Plums and the filet's sauce was listed as Santa Rosa Plum sangria. I got the rabbit entree which was baked with a little fresh pasta, some hot pepper, tomatoes, green garbanzos, and roasted eggplant. Now y'all know what happened the last time I got a green garbanzo here but I had seen it on the menu so wasn't surprised. They were really good this time, which was surprising! Even more amazing, I ate something from the dish that was delicious while excitedly engaged in conversation with Toocherie. I couldn't quite place it but it was so good I tracked it all down and was on the last piece before I realized it was the eggplant, another non-favorite of mine. I generously gave it to Toocherie, who agreed it was very good.
I'm pretty sure I'm missing a course in here; it may come to me later.
For dessert, I had the vintner's special: a delicious shortbread cookie served next to semifreddo floating in cold plum soup. Nice, but a taste of Toocherie's peach tart with corn ice cream blew it out of the water. We talked for a long time about what the ice cream tasted like (besides good) and I finally decided it must have been influenced by momofuku's cereal milk ice cream flavor, which uses corn flakes and a little brown sugar to flavor the ice cream base. That's my theory. Anyway, it's awesome and I encourage you to try it if you have the chance. Sorbets of the week were a beautiful watermelon-honeydew mix, blueberry lemongrass, and a startlingly colored mango cilantro.
Wendy was fussing around trying to find me a new dessert wine I might like but they were out so we "settled" on Veuve Clicquot yellow label! (Current story from Wendy on Magicale is "vendor issues" so they are working to find a new brachetto. I had seen a flute of something that sure looked like brachetto going out but apparently it was champage with Chambord.)
They settled us up with some truffle boxes and we returned to our everyday lives.