Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Restaurant Review: Tasting Thursday at The Palace

Fine dining is not the rage that food trucks are - but let me tell you something - when you experience true fine dining - it's incredible and delightful. And that is what The Palace provided to me. 

The Palace in the Cincinnatian has a new executive chef - Joe West - and he's young and to get to the point - AMAZING.
They have introduced Tasting Thursday once a month - the next one is THIS THURSDAY! What I love is that each one is unique - I was able to attend Tasting Thursday with Guest Sommelier Kelly Woodridge and it was fancy fancy!

The event this Thursday is a Spring Gala Cookout - the menu is definitely drool-worthy - fried chicken, buttered crawfish, cheesy grits, rhubarb pie - oye vay! If you don't have plans - you should DEFINITELY go!

But now - back to my amazing dinner. We had champagne, beautiful music and the shrimp (bottom right - was on little sauce skewers - so you ate the shrimp and squeezed the sauce - how fun and NOT messy!

This is fine dining - so there are lots of forks and glasses and service between courses - if you've never experienced it - it's very fun! And you know when your menu has ahi tuna, foie gras, prawns, morels and dehydrated milk foam - you can't go wrong. (I didn't even know what the last thing was - but I know now!)

We started with an amuse bouche Hamachi & Ahi Tuna - how can something so small be so full of flavor? It was salty, sweet, light, tangy - just delicious.

Next was our first course of chilled carrot soup, citrus, yoghurt espuma and garden vegetables. It was served as you see on the left and then they came and added the soup. This was the only course I didn't love. I just am not a fan of cold soup or carrots much - it had good flavor and was a great texture combination.

This was a wine pairing dinner - so every course had a specifically selected wine from Kelly. This was served with a champagne-like Berlucci "Cuvee 61" Rose from Lombardia, IT.

For the second course - I can't even explain how amazing this was. They came to the table with warm wurzelbrot bread (a Swiss twisted bread) and how can you not love fancily plated butter. And then...

...whole roasted foie gras with textures of rhubarb. 

This was served in a cast iron skillet tableside with three types of rhubarb. Before I can even begin to describe this - I have to say - I've tried foie gras numerous times and have NEVER liked it. There's a bit of the animal lover in me that's not fond of the method to create it - but mainly it's been the taste. I just don't like it. I must restate that - I just DIDN'T like it. Cuz Joe converted me - I nearly hip checked the other half of the table to get more. 

This was so deliciously roasted - I just can't even explain it. It had a wonderful crisp sear, salty luscious creaminess, but still the "bite" of meat and none of the mush you get with liver. I don't want to say it "popped" in your mouth - but it sort of did. It was just decadent and amazing. So if you only have one thing at the Palace ever - get the foie gras. The rhubarb was good - but I just wanted to enjoy every spec of the foie. Wow.   

This was served with Kracher Auslese Cuvee, Neusiedlersee, AT. 

The 3rd course was Scorpion fish & spot prawns, ramps and risotto with preserved lemon. This was served with a Chateau Ste-Michelle "Cold Creek Vineyard" Riesling from Horse Heaven Hills WA. Some of you may be saying - "Riesling????" - but the Sommelier came across this wine when he was at a wine conference and he tasted 285 rieslings in 3 days. Yeah. It was a sweet wine but not overly dessert like - just light and delicious.

I've never had scorpion fish and it was great - a very light white fish. The risotto was great - I'm not a huge fan - I had it once when it was perfect and cheesy and nothing ever seems to match up. For risotto though - it was good - lemony but not too much. I don't think I ate the prawn right (sucking the head???) so I can't say on that. :-( I need a tutorial.

Our 4th course was prime skirt steak, veal sweetbread, morels, smoked cherries and a roasted cherry veal jus. This was served with a Ca'Marcanda "Promis" Maremma, IT 2011.

Man oh man - another delicious dish. This steak was perfection. I'm not all too sure what the green sauce was - but it was good. I wish there had been more morels - it was just that flake between the steak pieces. The cherry jus and sweetbreads were a great pairing with this dish. By this point - I was so full - but I kept powering through - mainly because it was so amazing - I couldn't stop.

Then our final dish - was mint ice cream, chocolate, dehydrated milk foam and spring strawberries.  The photo on the bottom right is Pam from Dutch's Wine Bar - she described this dish as (and this is a direct quote), "That is like making out with Neil Diamond!" Um - okay?! Let's go with that!

Kelly Wooldridge, the Master Sommelier, is from Bonanno Concepts in Denver. He also happens to be a childhood friend of the new Executive Chef. That is why Chef Joe asked Kelly to come for this tasting and we're really glad he came! He had so much great knowledge for us as well - did you know that by the time you're 10 - you have smelled 1000 things! That's pretty crazy!

But back to that dessert - I'm not a fan of mint but that ice cream was so light and airy - and not overpowering. The chocolate was thick and rich but small enough to not take over. And dehydrated milk foam? Yeah - tastes like cheesecake! Balance. Delicious. (Served with Chapoutier "Rimage" Banyuls, 2010)

Why Should You Go? Not just because this was an amazing dinner - but I urge you to check out the Palace and one of their Thursday Tastings. Chef Joe is a breath of fresh air - he's so young and vibrant and is bringing with him some AMAZING dishes! And seriously - get foie gras!

And don't forget - their next Tasting Thursday is this Thursday May 15 - and is just $58 per person! (The meal I had was nearly twice that.) So please - go enjoy a cookout with Chef Joe and tell him the Food Hussy sent you! 

Chef actually went around to each table and chatted with all the diners - loved it! Thanks again to the Palace for the wonderful dining experience!

The Palace on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The Palace provided two seats at the Tasting Thursday dinner in exchange for this post but all opinions are my own. 


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