Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dinner in Guerneville

Eastside Road, May 16, 2014 (but written May 18)—
WHEN NOT BUSY with far too many other things — garden, kitchen, laundry, reading, correspondence, and generally looking after me, otherwise I would surely perish, and she might be better off — Cook occasionally browses what the French call le publicité to see what items might be of interest that would otherwise never come to our attention.

Recently this led to one of those pre-purchase offers at a nearby restaurant we'd heard about vaguely but never had reason to investigate — until a bargain price seemed to be available, so why not? And we drove out to a nearby resort town to have dinner in a secluded inn, the kind that refers to itself as "romantic." We'll never need its rooms, of course; we have our own; and we'll never make use of its spa, we're pretty well beyond all that now. But why not investigate its dinner?

The offer allowed us to choose any item from the three courses, and a glass of wine-by-the-glass. The menu corresponded exactly to the website and the brochure, leading me to think it's rarely changed, and it leaned heavily to presentation. The room was comfortable and attractive, the tables widely spaced — we could converse easily, rare these days in a restaurant. Maybe it was romantic, after all.

I had the Kona Kampachi Crudo with Spanish Anchovy, garnished with California Avocado, Pixie Tangerine, Garden Cilantro, Petite Greens, Lime — I copy this, majuscules and all, from that web page. It arrived on a chilled black slate, and I'm sorry I didn't get a better photo; it looked like a Zurbaran. The fish was delicate and fresh, and the mix of flavors very nice, each standing on its own merits, but the entire mix somehow integrating throughout the course.


Then the Grilled Fillet of Beef Tenderloin, Fourchette Potatoes, with Delta Asparagus, Maitake Mushrooms, Bone Marrow Bordelaise, [and] Chive Blossoms. The waiter — a pleasant, forthcoming, yet subtle fellow — heard me wondering about the source of the beef, and casually mentioned, next time he was tableside, "corn-fed," with no further elaboration. It was tender and succulent and gained a lot from the marrow Bordelaise sauce. I liked the potatoes, which tasted as if they had indeed been baked, not boiled; and were certainly mashed as if with a fork, not puréed until all texture is gone.

This was served, as you see, on another landscape-orientation rectangle, a little exaggerated but pleasant to the eye, much more so than this photo suggests.

IMG_2668.jpgDessert: Honey cannoli with mascarpone and dried apricots stewed, not quite long enough, in a vanilla-flavored syrup. The apricots suggested a glass of Sautérnes might be in order — I haven't tasted one in years, and there was an attractive one on the menu.

On the whole, a very pleasant evening; and the drive, through the fragrant redwoods along the Russian River on a balmy late Spring night, made it all the better. Gee: Maybe it was romantic, after all.
Pinot noir, Dutton Estate, Karmen Isabella (Russian River Valley), 2011: smooth, rich, mature; Sautérnes: Roumieu-Lacoste, 2010: smooth, deep, forward flavor, authentic
• Applewood Inn Restaurant, 13555 Highway 116, Guerneville, California; 707-869-9093

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