Last night, the JohnnyCakes and I went to Stephan Pyles…Again! It’s currently Restaurant Week (actually Restaurant MONTH for some places), which is always a good time to check out some really great restaurants for Cheap.
Here is the menu at SP for RW: http://www.stephanpyles.com/events.asp
Go ahead and look over it. I’ll wait…
…And now that you’ve looked over the menu, let’s get on with the show…
(Note: We got the wine pairings. Because you just have to. You do.)
Local Heirloom Tomato Salad with Paula’s Bocconcini, Fried Avocado and Balsamic Gelée*
Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch 2008
This was my choice for the 1st course. It was amazing. The tomatoes were perfectly ripe (Do they have a huge window that they set the tomatoes on to ripen every day? Wouldn’t it be cool if they did?), and the panko-encrusted avocado provided a crunchy, sweet foil to the flavors of the tomatoes and the balsamic gelee cubelets. The bocconcini was like a bonus layer of creaminess to the dish. (Note to self: make panko-encrusted avocado. )
Scallop and Pork Belly Carnitas with Sweet Potato Hash, Smoked Onion Confit and Plum Purée
Catena Chardonnay, Tupungato, Mendoza 2007
This was Johnny’s first course. But I tried it, of course…
The waiter had detailed the entire 57-step process of getting the pork belly just right, from the roasting, to the peeling off of fat and forming the pork into a Jimmy Dean Sausage-shaped Tube. But whatever. All that really mattered was whether all of that was worth it. And it was…
I’m not normally a fan of cooked scallops (Although I LOVE scallop sushi!), but this was really tasty. It had a perfectly bacony flavor, the scallop was not rubbery at all, and for me, sweet potatoes in general can do no wrong. So no complaints on this one at all…
Extra Course – Central Market Coupon
Red Snapper in Thai-Red Curry Masa with Veracruzana Sauce and Caramelized Fingerling Banana
Van Duzer Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2006
We had to get this. Even though we didn’t have the Central Market coupon.
Holy crap it was good.
This was a slab of snapper, on top of coconut rice, with sort of a curry tamale on top. On top of that was a Veracruzana (think sweet, oniony stewed tomato) sauce. On the side was half of a carmelized fingerling banana, and then the whole shebang was drizzled with creme fraiche.
(Note to self: Make bass or some other kind of meaty white fish with carmelized banana. And avocado.)
This was like another dessert. And probably my favorite course of the evening!
48-Hour Braised Beef Cheek with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Baby Squash
Hook and Ladder “The Tillerman” Red Blend, Russian River Valley 2006
This was the most yummy cowface I’d ever had. It was like a carmelized pot roast. Sweet, fork-tender, and slightly crispy. OMG I’m drooling just thinking about it…
Some people are afraid of eating Animal Face, but really, it’s usually the most tender and sweet meat on a critter. Try this with fish (hamachi kama) the next time you eat sushi. You will thank me. Trust.
Pan-Seared Salmon with Hoja Santa Pesto, Corn Griddle Cakes and Clay Pot Black Beans
Latour “Domaine Valmoissine” Pinot Noir, Coteaux du Verdon 2007
Meh. Mine was better. (Johnny got this, and it tasted pretty much like it looks.)
I could make this. It’s like they didn’t even try. And the streak of pesto just makes the salmon look, well, diseased…
Mexican Chocolate Fondant with Fleur de Sel Caramel and Kahlúa Crema
Marenco Brachetto D’ Acqui “Pineto” Piedmonte DOCG 2008
For our dessert orders, I had asked the waiter to just randomly give us the chocolate dessert and the cheesecake. So at first, this was my dessert. Again, I can’t say I’m a fan of cake.
So we traded.
This tasted like a brownie. (And that’s probably why Johnny LOVED it!)
The wine that was served along side the brownie was a Piedmont, which was sort of a fizzy Pinot Noir. This wine might have done better with a ganache or something smooth like that. Because again, I am not a fan of cake…
Unless it’s CHEESECAKE…
Deep Ellum Goat’s Cheesecake with Thyme-Infused Cherries Jubilee
Lillypilly Noble Blend, New South Wales (Riverina) Australia 2006
Who but Stephan Pyles would think to make a cheesecake with goat cheese (and not screw it up)? And then make it look like a cherry cobbler with ice cream?
To be honest, I was expecting the standard baked, triangular slice of cheesecake, maybe with some cherries baked into it. Maybe a little browning or crustiness on top… But certainly not this!
(I totally got the best dessert. After I traded with Johnny, anyway… Yay, me!)
The cheesecake was perfectly smooth and creamy, and the cherries were perfectly cooked and seasoned with thyme. Accompanying the cheesecake/cherries was a liberal sprinkling of (graham cracker crumbs?) on the side. It was basically a deconstructed cherry cheesecake. And I need to remember to add more herbs to my cobblers…
And as for the wine, the Lillypilly rocked it.
All in all, the JohnnyCakes and I were once again very, very impressed by Stephan Pyles. I’m pretty sure this is our new favorite restaurant.
*All photos were taken by my iPhone, because although I was prepared to look sort of geeky taking photos of my food, I didn’t want to look Japanese Tourist geeky with my honkin’ big DSLR slung around my neck.