Last Friday, Johnny and I made our annual trek to Stephan Pyles to sample the offerings for Restaurant Week.  We had been to another restaurant the week before and were not impressed, so I KNEW that Stephan Pyles would be better.  And they did not disappoint!

We arrived at the restaurant a little early, so we decided to wait at the bar…

I had a cucumber martini, and Johnny had an Acai Berry martini.

The cucumber martini had gin, vodka, and some other stuff, and it contained a floating slice of cucumber.  It was cucumbery and yummy!

I have no idea what Johnny’s martini had, but it was a lot sweeter than mine, and it had blueberries.  So both of our drinks had their own special Flair…

Course 1:

My first course was a corn soup.  Or to be more exact…

Roasted Texas Corn Soup with Laughing Bird Shrimp and Huitlacoche
Acrobat, Pinot Gris, Oregon 2008

(Seeing this photo reminds me that I need the new iPhone.  I really, really need the new iPhone.  *sigh*…)

So anyway, the soup tasted like creamed corn that had been put into a blender.  But not in a bad way!  Oh no!  It was sweet and a tad smoky, and it had a few particles of huitlacoche swimming around in it. The shrimp accented the sweetness, and the cream smoothed everything over.  This was really, really tasty.

Johnny got this:

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Mozzarella-Stuffed Squash Blossom,
Basil and Balsamic Gelée
Pazo San Mauro, Albarino, Rias Baixas 2009

(And yes, I tasted everything.  How am I supposed to write an information-filled blog if I don’t know what everything tastes like???)

The salad consisted of field greens, several differnt types of heirloom tomatoes, and a deep-fried squash blossom that had been stuffed with mozzerella.  You know, like the description says…

I had gotten a similar salad last year at SP, so I knew how good it was.  I don’t know how they got these tomatoes to taste so perfect, but they were delicious!  They must not keep them in a refrigerator or something…  you know that kills the flavor, right?  Right???

Course 2:

For my entree, I got this:

Grilled Coulotte of Beef with Charred Red Pepper Purée,
Tempura Hen of the Woods and Fresh Bay Demi
J. Vidal-Fleury, Cotes du Rhone 2006

I know you need a translation, so here it is:

Basically, these were grilled, absolutely perfectly tender hunks of beef, sitting on a sauce made of charred red bell peppers.

No, actually, they were grilled, absolutely perfectly tender hunks of beef, leaning on a dollop of mashed potatoes that had been placed on a shmear of red pepper puree.

Accompanying these were two HUGE hunks of tempura-fried wild mushrooms.

And they were delicious!

The beef was amazingly rich, but it was lightened up by the sweet tartness of the puree.  The mushrooms were a bit heavy, but the flavors played off each other very well, overall.

Johnny’s entree:

Barbecued Juha Ranch Chicken with Grilled Watermelon,
Pickled Rind and Heirloom Potato Salad
Pedroncelli, “Mother Clone”, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2008

Throughout our meal, I was insanely jealous of Johnny, because everything that he got was SO much better than mine!

The chicken was amazingly tender, juicy, and full of flavor.

It was accompanied by the most delicious potato salad I had ever tried.  The potatoes were purple, and the flavor of the potato salad was almost orangey.  I asked the waiter what they put in the salad, and he replied that it was just “standard potato salad dressing.”  Yeah, right.

Leaning on the chicken was a slice of grilled watermelon.  The watermelon was perfectly ripe, very, very sweet, and the sweetness was further brought out by the grilleration…

Like I said…  Totally jealous of this one…

Course 3:

But I got even MORE envious when I saw his dessert, which was…

Mexican Chocolate Tamales with Roasted Cherry-Vanilla Ice Cream Sambuca
-Milk Chocolate Sauce
Warre’s, “Otima 10”, 10-Year Tawny Port

Oh.  My.  Gawd.

This chocolate tamale tasted like straight brownie batter.  But not as sweet.  It was like a perfectly moist, soggy, wet, undercooked slab of cake batter.  It was divine.

I didn’t notice the ice cream.  Or the drizzle.

This dessert…Must learn how to make…. yum…

For my dessert, I got:

Mascarpone-Black Mission Fig Empanada with Balsamic Sabayon
and Jamon Serrano Ice Cream
Albala, “Gran Reserva”, Don PX, Sherry 1982

Okay…

This was a tiny empanada filled with figgy, creamy goodness.

The thing I like best about Stephan Pyles is that he takes what is basically white trash/comfort food and makes it upscale.  So with this dessert, he took the concept of a chocolate fried pie and made it all gourmet-like and stuff…

The filling in the empanada was a fig/mascarpone mixture.  And in texture, it was a lot like a stringier chocolate fried pie.  I only wish there had been more filling.

The schmear was a balsamic sabayon, and it picked up the flavor with a tart sweetness that paired very well with the sweet creaminess of the empanada filling.

Jamon Serrano = Serrano ham.  To tell the truth, I couldn’t really taste any hammy flavor in the ice cream.  it might have been there, but all I tasted was vanilla ice cream with maybe a bit of  a twang.

Truffles:

The neat thing about fancypants restaurants like Stephan Pyles and Nobu is, they often give you truffles instead of the standard hard candy/peppermint/Andes mints that you get at other places.  And that is awesome.

From left to right:

  • Peanut butter-filled milk chocolate truffle: I didn’t taste this one, but Johnny seemed to enjoy it.
  • “The chef’s play on an Oreo cookie”:  Hmmm….I don’t think I tasted this one either.  From what I recall, Johnny just picked this one up and popped it into his mouth.  The little weasel.  >:-(
  • Dark chocolate heart, filled with lavender cream:  Wow.  This was amazing.  I had half of it and gave Johnny the other half.
  • Johnny owes me some chocolate.
  • I’ll send him the bill from Neiman’s.

So there you have it.  My review of Stephan Pyles is finally here.

And on September 24, I will be going to the State Fair of Texas for my annual Fried Food Report!  YAAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!!!

And remember: 

STAY AWAY FROM 560 BY WOLFGANG PUCK.

Bleah.

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