happy birthday to me (happy birthday!)
it's a late late late post today because i was a cosseted little lamb who woke up to a lovely surprise breakfast prepared by the roomie. it was french toast with a warm fruit compote (apples, peaches, strawberries and blueberries) on top and a beet, carrot, apple, celery, cucumber juice.
it was lovely! i was running late and opted in the heat to take the subway. so i turn to my little bro and go, "hey! we can take the subway together!" he looked less than pleased. so i ask him why he has a problem taking the subway with his sister. his reply? "it's a personal journey" (lol!) so i kept joking about it and he practically flew out of the house...i swear he was running down the driveway putting his shoes on - all to avoid having to have his sister along on his "personal" ttc "journey". hilarious. we ended up riding together because in his haste, he forgot his lunch and had to double back for it, by which point i was ready to go. i think he was worried that i was going to yap his ear off, but he listened to his tunes and i read my entertainment weekly, and we parted ways at yonge with a hearty slap on my back (from him) and a happy birthday goodbye. my lil' bro is the cutest. kid. ever!
dinner at amuse bouche last night was a bit disappointing. the prices they charge are on the high end, so i expect nice stuff. we sat down at 8:30 and didn't leave the table until 11:30. did we have a tasting menu? no! we ordered apps, mains, cheese course and dessert. does that warrant 3 hours? hells no!
the room is nice and intimate, the patio is lovely, although they do squish the tables in (even setting tables at odd angles to squeeze a couple more deuces into the room). we sat down and were immediately presented with a bread plate consisting of two cumin and fennel flecked bread sticks that were nicely chewy, and a slightly sweet raisin bun, with soft butter for spreading. the bread sticks were nice, but i generally don't like to start the meal off with a sweet bread, and the raisin bread seemed more suitable for breakfast than as a pre-dinner offering.
our amuse was a lobster croquette on a chili aioli that was innocuous, neither tasting particularly of lobster or the aioli of chili. the outside wasn't very crispy, but the inside was nicely light, almost souffled. we then waited about 20-30 minutes for our appetizers. the boy had the horse tartar, which was served with a panko-breaded fried egg yolk that had been overcooked so it wasn't runny. the horse tartare was also served with potato chips (very fine, thin, nicely seasoned), garlicky cool mushrooms, and a cheese lollipop. the tartare was very nice (who knew that horsey was going to be so good?) it was springy to the tooth and tasted like a mix between mild beef touched with some pork-y brawniness. the tartare was a little too strongly seasoned with truffle oil.
i got the duo of foie gras, a $19 plate that contained a sliver (1 cm thick) of seared foie (cold by the time i got it and overcooked!!!) and an inoffensive terrine, smooth, served with a tiny postage-stamp-sized piece of toast, an apple gelee, and a thin stick of caramel.
we then waited THIRTY MINUTES for our next course. no apologies, no checking in from our server, no nothing. i finally had to flag him down and politely mention that we had been waiting quite a while for our main courses, which is when i got a kind of half-assed apology and that he was aware of it, and had asked the kitchen to put our orders "at the front of the queue". lame! lies! it's also the kind of place that does wine service, but inattentively, so there were long stretches when the boy's glass was empty, and he would've liked to be topped up, but it wasn't offered and our server was nowhere to be found. amuse bouche is also the kind of place with towels in the bathroom, instead of paper towelling. if you're going to be that kind of place, it's not MY responsibility to chase YOU down when there's a forty five minute delay between courses, or when i want my wine refilled. if you're going to do something, do it right!
we were then placated with our intermezzo, a nice, bland canteloupe sorbet, after which we had to wait an extra TWENTY MINUTES for our mains.
finally our mains arrived. i had ordered the monkfish appetizer. it was a piece of meaty (but overcooked and tepid) monkfish encased in a piece of non-crispy pancetta, with a red pepper skin "tuile", a red pepper "egg yolk" (red pepper puree emulsified to look and hold it's shape like a raw egg yolk) and sweetbreads in a wine reduction. the sweetbreads had been overcooked to the point of dry, graininess. and the red pepper elements on the plate were incongruous with what was otherwise a very earthy surf-and-turf concept.
the boy had lobster, which came with a half-seared tuna tartare, artichokes, edamame, and asparagus. the lobster was also on the luke side of warm and overcooked (dry, tough). the couple at the next table also had the lobster just before our mains were set down and later complained to the waiter that their lobster was overdone. so the kitchen was just a miss that night.
i had the cheese boutique "surprise" - a goat's cheese encircled with pork and seared and served with a rosemary and thyme jelly. this was very nice. i also sampled the boy's cheese plate which had four kinds - one of which we dubbed "hot garbage" (in the good way, it was a raw cow's milk that was rubbed with fleur de sel...stinkaroo! tastiroo!) - a strange superfluous jelly and some lovely black sesame spotted crackers and wheaty, flakey, digestive-like cookies to accompany that were possibly the best thing i ate all night there.
for dessert the boy had a $10 creme brulee that's about the same size as you would get for $5 at anywhere else...it was good but not great (i mean, how hard is it to mess up creme brulee?) and i had a trio of chocolate with a milk chocolate and bergamot milkshake (okay), a chocolate and chai beignet (okay) and iles flotante meringues in a chocolate-orange sauce (better than the other two elements but still not wow-y).
overall, i was disappointed. for that price point, and the way they style themselves, i don't expect to see empty plates and cutlery languishing on the table in between courses, cool food, crappy wine service, and miniscule portions.
let's just say, i hit a mcdicks IMMEDIATELY after and polished off an infinitely more satisfying big mac combo. there were some elements there were good, but nothing veered into greatness, and i much enjoyed my half-the-price feast at oyster boy on sunday MUCH more. admittedly, the kitchen at amuse bouche is tiny, but then you shouldn't be so ambitious. just be what you are! do a few things REALLY well! i'm puzzled because it's gotten such glowing reviews, but maybe i'm too late.
tonight i'm baking pies. i had lunch with my dad (indian buffet at kathmandu on yonge) and we've had two rounds of cake here at work (my coworkers surprised me this morning...I LOVE MY WORK!!!! and someone else who's resigning got going-away cake) so i doubt i'll be hungy for dinnie. dr. rei is coming over to "help" me bake pies for lobster-fest 2007 on saturday.