Over the past few years our relationship has been a bit rocky. It all started about two years ago when my husband and I experienced a rather inspiring meal, but an unfortunate and loud argument between serving staff behind our table. That isn’t exactly what you hope for in a five-star restaurant. Then we decided to head that way for lunch, in our opinion a bit less committment. We entered and were told to have a seat at the bar as it was about a 5 minute wait. Over 20 minutes later, we’d not been acknowledged. That is until we actually walked out the front door at which time the maitre’d came after us for a snappy interaction of sorts. After this experience, we were a bit hesitant to try it again.
Every so often the idea of giving it another go was discussed and for one reason or another dismissed. Until this past month when He Said and I were discussing where to celebrate my annual birthday dinner. We’d been to Stella! twice this year (once in November), the chef’s table at Commanders is upcoming (!!), and we’d spent our most recent anniversary at Lilette. We gave some consideration to Gautreau’s, Patois, and even a first go at Le Foret, but in the end it was August.
I am happy to report that this time we had a mere 5 minute wait. In fact, we ordered a cocktail that had to be delivered to our table because our seating was so efficient. We were promptly greeted by a service staff of two and were told the daily specials. In stark contrast to our recent experience at Meson 923, our server expertly and enthusiastically described both specials and details of those menu items about which we inquired.
We were equally pleased with our discussions with Erin, the sommelier who assisted us with choosing our vino for the evening. August specializes in Burgundy, a region where we have little expertise, so we were very grateful for the assistance. After much interesting discussion we settled on a 2007 Domaine Des Comtes Lafon Volnay. This wine was nicely acidic, much more so than a typical Oregon Pinot Noir, with which we are significantly more familiar. We thought this was a good wine from the start, but as the night wore on, it went from good to great. Specifically, we felt this wine paired perfectly with the shrimp stock based soup I enjoyed as an appetizer because the acidity of the wine cut the richness and heavy mouth-feel of the soup. My husband enjoyed the ragout of wild boar; we thought this dish was spot-on.
For entrée’s He Said enjoyed the duck with seared foie gras (he’s been a little foie-centric lately) which was just succulent. My entrée (a special) included three large scallops that had been scored and dusted with an Asian style spice blend. I had never had scallops scored previously, but this made a big difference in the overall flavor as well as carmelizing of the outside. I wish I could remember very specific details about the complement items for each entrée but I failed to take notes and then had a more than crazy week between the experience and the delivery. I think that is reason enough to get back there real soon!
For dessert, He Said ordered a glass of Tokaji, which is a Hungarian dessert wine. Unfortunately they were out of this wine, but instead the sommelier brought us each a glass of late harvest French dessert wine on the house. We also had the goat’s milk cheesecake which was absolutely divine. One of my favorite things to do after an indulgent meal is to have a cup of coffee. I just feel that it completes things, regardless of whether I am having dessert. This was certainly a smart move because I am again amazed at how good Besh coffee is. It is some special Nicaraguan coffee that at least several of the empire’s restaurants tout, and is French-pressed. This stuff is the kind you dream about.
I have but one mere complaint on an otherwise absolutely perfect experience: The amuse bouche. I get the impression that August has gotten comfortable with their standard amuse. It is a truffle-infused custard, beautifully served inside an eggshell. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. Let’s face it: everything about August is just so. And it appears that this has evolved into kind of a signature item. But where we part ways is that I envision this little piece of lagniappe that high-end restaurants provide as the perfect opportunity to wow and expose your clients to new flavors, experiences, and tastes with little to no risk on their part. Why oh why do the same thing over and over? Isn’t the point of an amuse bouche to tantalize your taste buds? And as such, it is the perfect chance to make an impression on your customers from the get-go instead of leaving anyone that has been more than once with, Oh, this egg again? Maybe it is just me. Fair enough, but it’s my world in this blog, and I’m just sayin’.
Final thought: Me and August- we’re totally ON again!