Punch & Judy, Mar. 18, 2005
26 Clinton Street
This meal, and restaurant in general, was a breath of fresh air.
The restaurant area is pretty small, maybe cozy is the right word, but the bar area is quite large, and as I was dining by myself (Danna was in Seattle), I found myself at the far end of the bar looking out onto the street.
The barstaff isn't as knowlegeable or perhaps professional as they are at Lupa, let's say, but nice enough so that you get what you want in the longrun.
I started off with a flight of reds:
2002 Costa del Sol, Benessere Vineyards (Napa). My notes say that this had hints of cherry, had a slightly astringent bouquet (and first sip) but "relaxed" shortly after. It had an airy/faint finish and would go great with ricotta gnocchi or maybe a goat cheese with black cherries (see Otto review). This did go very well with the feta and blood orange marmalade in the cheese course.
2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paringa (South Australia)
I liked this wine but it seemed unstable. Almost too much of a bounce from initial taste to finish.
2000 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Claar Cellars (Columbia Valley, Washington)
At first I thought this was too big for the lamb rillets I ordered, but the finish changed my mind. This went perfectly with the epoisses and banana butter.
2001 Troc, Babcock, Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Barbara)
Weak/Lacking bouquet, medium body and an excellent post-dinner wine. Very drinkable. The best of the lot this evening.
White Asparagus Soup, Melon in wildflowers, lavender infused honey
This is Easter. Really refreshing. This is what a day at the spa would taste like. A wonderful cold soup that screams Spring Time in look, feel and taste.
Crispy Lamb Rillets, light Spanish Stew, Muscat-marinated currants
The stew was made of black olives, poached grapes, chorizo, almonds (full and bleached) and squash and was very tasty. The lamb rillet let out a puff of steam when first cutting into it. The one drawback to this dish was that it was tough to break apart. Hardly a problem, really. Nice peppery notes throughout the dish. Overall very good, although maybe a bit muddied in color (as a whole).
Epoisses, paired with banana butter
Young Manchego, paired with meyer lemon marmalade
Castelrosso, paired with blood orange mostardo
Goat Feta, paired with golden pineapple jam (which was really thick)
Shropshire, paired with apple caramel (which was nice but too creamy. The cheese was very cheddary in texture).
Anything is easily overpowered by epoisses, but the banana butter toned it down nicely. All of these pairings worked well. Not one that didn't work, maybe the shropshire was a bit weak, but otherwise a nice cheese plate.
The restaurant truly embraced the arrival of Spring, with forsythia's behind the bar, the ingrediants and the pairings.
The music was very different but worked for the most part. Galactic was a great fit, Sublime was out of place. The White Stripes kind of fit (yeah, I guess it did) and Jeff Buckley certainly did. The Riders of Storm (by the Doors) Spanish remix was a great treat as well.
I was seated at the same end of the bar as the ultra quiet dish/glassware washer, and despite a big cloud of steam when the cycle was through, it never actually reached the bar and carried no scent whatsoever. Everything is crisp, in running order and looks brand new.
The bar lights dimmed at 9:12pm, so I suggest getting there early to have a few drinks and then enjoy the low-key atmosphere. Especially single guys who like good food, sampling wine and women in their early 30s as there wasn't a shortage of any of them during my stay.