When it was announced at the end of January that Andrew Brochu was leaving El Ideas to become the executive chef at Graham Elliot, we were super excited for him. We’d thoroughly enjoyed his collaboration with Chef Phillip Foss at El Ideas, and found his dishes very memorable (think fried chicken liver, popcorn ice cream, cured egg dessert etc.), and were curious to see what ideas he had at his new gig.
So on Thursday evening, five of us foodies eagerly headed over to Graham Elliot for dinner. Jeff and I had been on a previous occasion, about a year ago, and hadn’t been too impressed with the food there then. This time, we all bit the bullet and opted for the most expensive repertoire tasting menu along with the wine pairing.
Was the food inspired! Not only was the presentation elegant though simple, the flavors were fun, fresh, and played off each other well. Particularly outstanding was the wine pairings. We started off with a glass of champagne from Domaine Berthet-Bondet Cremant du Jura, which was crisp yet nutty – I’ve got to do some research to see if I can hit up the winery when I head to Champagne in a month! In between our courses, our waiter also brought out extra dishes from the kitchen; Chef Brochu was working on the next iteration of the menu he said, and wanted our feedback. We suggested that he lighten up on the ponzu sauce on the parsnip bite on one dish, but otherwise raved about the dishes – foie gras lollipop with pop rocks, fun!
The outstanding dishes – smoked trout with bagel ice cream and capers and dill. It tasted exactly like a Jewish bagel; delightful! The chilled cauliflower with curry, cucumber, and yogurt was another refreshing course, and the cheery purple, orange and green cauliflowers added some much needed color to the otherwise dreary weather outside. The potato dish with the thick shavings of black truffle was heavenly too, particularly when paired with the pungent and earthy 2008 Alvaro Palacios “Placet” Viura from Rioja. Loved the scallop dish too – with the tart Eric Bordelet Sparkling Poire Cider from Normandy (I should look for that too when I’m out there!). Our waiter was generous with the wines and often topped off our glasses, and in this case he left the entire bottle of pear cider for us to enjoy.
Other amazing dishes: the pappardelle carbonara with gaunciale and egg. OMG, was that good! We’ve recently had flatbread at a bunch of restaurants that tried to do the egg and ham thing, but this version had us all drooling. It went down so well with the 2008 Soter “Mineral Springs Ranch” Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley too, and I am now on the look out to get some of this wine for our wine fridge. 🙂 Then there was Brochu’s popcorn ice cream again, but this time it was dressed up in a spicier outfit, with cheddar and jalapeno. And he could do no wrong with the foie gras marinated in a light Szechuan sauce, nor the generous steaks of lobster which we washed down with the 2006 Michel & Stephane Ogier “La Rosine” Syrah, Rhone Valley.
By the time we came to the dessert course, we had already slurped up a good 15 courses, but still we found room to properly enjoy the sweets. We weren’t sure at first about the description of the doughnut with coffee, cream and sugar, but it turned out to be a clever play on the otherwise plebian dessert. Instead, we got an espresso cup filled with thick coffee syrup and the “doughnut” was a bready cream that we mixed into the coffee to drink. It was most phenomenal.
It turned out to be such a fun dinner! We’re definitely looking forward to return visits! And Eric loved this current menu so much, he’s determined to go back again in the next few weeks!