I know that people have different feelings about Restaurant Week. Some think it’s the worst time to try a restaurant, with the limited menus and rushed or indifferent service, while others look at it as an opportunity to go to restaurants they normally might not be able to afford. I get that. I’ve had some awful experiences (Butterfield 9, I’m looking at you—oh wait, no I’m not because YOU CLOSED), and some wonderful ones (hi PS-7’s, love you!). But it’s a crap shoot I’m willing to roll the dice on.
(For those of you who don’t have RW in your area, the deal is that twice a year—winter and summer—local restaurants offer three-course meals for a flat rate, usually based on the year. For example, this year lunch was $20.09, and dinner was $30.09. Menus are usually abbreviated for RW, but some places do offer all of their regular dishes, and the price doesn’t include wine/beverages. So there you go. Moving on…)
Poste Moderne Brasserie (http://www.postebrasserie.com/)
I wasn’t expecting too much from this restaurant in the Hotel Monaco. I’d been there a couple of times for cocktails or brunch, and had had decent food, but nothing mind-blowing. So when Gary e-mailed to say he’d made reservations, I thought, “Eh, well, okay. It’s just 35 bucks, and it’s dinner out with friends.”
Tuesday night after a CRAPTASTIC day, I met up with Gary, Ali, and Heather at the bar before our reservation. Ali had some kind of cocktail with pureed mango, Heather had something with dark rum and cinnamon, Gary had a dark ’n’ stormy. I wasn’t in a mood to make a decision, so the bartender concocted something for me with Earl Grey-infused gin, St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), a little lemon, and a little soda water. A very nice way to calm the hell down and relax before dinner.
The hostess came over and told us our table was ready, and we settled in to our cushy booth (complete with pillows!) to go over the menu. Poste’s menu isn’t very long to begin with, so the RW menu didn’t take very long to peruse, but what was on there was intriguing.
Since it was a warm summer night, Heather and I opted for the heirloom tomato gazpacho with Dijon ice cream. (I’m guessing this involved liquid nitrogen, since I don’t think they probably keep a big tub of mustard ice cream in the back, but I may have just been watching too much Top Chef—a distinct possibility). This soup was amazing, and I will tell you that for free. And get this presentation: The food runner put down a large glass bowl in front of me that contained a small white scoop of the Dijon ice cream and two tiny grape heirloom tomatoes. Then the waiter swooped in with a small glass pitcher with the gazpacho—the tomato, peppers, onions, vinegar, and magic were all pureed together—and poured it into the bowl, garnishing it with fresh basil from the restaurant’s herb garden (gotta love that). The ice cream itself was unexpectedly good—you don’t normally expect things that are salty and mustardy to be creamy and cold—and when mixed with the soup, added just the right amount of richness. Gary and Ali both had an arugula salad with basil, mint, figs, parmesan, and sherry vinaigrette, and they both really dug it.
One thing happened, though, that really bugs me. The busboy came and took plates/bowls away before everyone was finished. I hate that, especially since on this night I was still enjoying my soup, and felt like I had to rush to finish, and that was not a bowl I wanted to rush through. The rest of the service was very nice, though—not overly familiar, but not stuffy, either. Plus the waiter was really cute.
All right, so entrees. Since the braised rabbit wasn’t on the RW menu and I didn’t feel like pasta, I went for the braised trotter, which the guy said is pork shank, but I believe is pied du cochon. Whatever it was, it rocked my comfort-needing soul. The meat was wrapped in a thin sheet of phyllo dough and rested on a bed of fresh greens (again from the garden), with a whole grain mustard sauce, and a dollop of onion marmalade on the side. The marmalade was a little sweet for my taste, but the whole thing worked really well together—the heartiness of the pork, the sass of the mustard, and the earthiness of the greens. Oh, and accompanying this was a very nice Oregon pinot noir, which you can never go too far wrong with.
Topping all that off was dessert. I wasn’t in the mood for something heavy after that pork shenaniganza, so I opted for the blueberry sorbet. Of course, that wasn’t just a scoop of icy blueberry goodness. Oh no. What came out was this gorgeous, deep purple spooning of the sorbet, accompanied by a scoop of almond ice cream (which was quite high in butterfat, I’m certain) and a dollop of hazelnut mousse. Oh my god, you guys.
Oh, and THEN! They came out with an assortment of house-made chocolate truffles with the bill. I don’t remember what they were, except one—white chocolate with lemon verbena.
This was a meal to ease a troubled soul, which it certainly did. Until I got home and got all pissed off again.
Next up: RW Part II -- Art and Soul