Dinner – Saturday, February 27, 2016
I have been wanting to visit Quince for the longest time. Indeed, we were poised to finally take the leap in October last year, but caught wind of their upcoming menu realignment. So we waited – what’s another few months when you’ve already waited years? My understanding is that they’ve consolidated two separate menus into a single, slightly longer degustation. Our excellent meal follows.
A few bites to begin (from left to right): Steak tartare wrapped in feuille de bric, daubed with sauce gribiche; airy chicharron with lemon verbena and paprika; house-dried hoshigaki on a stick; Iberico ham croquettes with sweet onion jam. The persimmon and chicharron were particularly good.
Fanny Bay oyster
Pink peppercorn, tarragon, horseradish
Tsar Nicoulai reserve caviar, two preparations
On the left, we were presented with toasted brioche, creme fraiche and caviar – classic and classy. The showstopper, however, was the quenelle of caviar sitting on a leek cream, garnished with chives. A champagne foam added a nice touch of acidity and yeastiness. One of my favourite bites of the evening.
Anchovy, burrata ice cream, nasturtium, Meyer lemon
Applewood-smoked steelhead trout roe
Crispy skin, watermelon radish, dill, buckwheat
Perhaps my top dish of the night, this mound of roe had everything – salinity, earthiness, balance, a panoply of textures. Absolutely superb.
Carrot, Perigord truffle, sweetbreads
Quince’s take on the egg course was a creamy carrot custard highlighting the sweetness of the root vegetable. The custard was topped with shaved truffles and crunchy nuggets of sweetbread – addictive.
Lemon leaf, Jasper Hill blue cheese
Root vegetable brodo
Onion, black garlic, rocket
Monterey Bay abalone
Cauliflower, sprouting broccoli, lardo
Maine lobster, hedgehog mushroom, artichokes, Perigord truffles
A supplemental (and sizable) course – the risotto and lobster were both cooked to textbook perfection. It’s too bad the dish was designed to showcase the truffles – they were of middling quality, at best.
Tagliatelle di farro
Suckling pig, squab, morels
Venison, rolled in charred alliums
Salsify, parsnip, prune
Our final savory course was a multi-part affair. First, the main plate. Next, we were presented with bowls containing a salad of chicory and hazelnut. The procession ended with our third server dropping of spears of binchotan-grilled venison sausage, still wafting smoke from the kitchen. A nice course, although the crisp chicory was not quite enough to overcome the sensation that everything else ate very soft.
The primarily domestic cheeses were performing well tonight – in particular, Jasper Hill Farm’s raw milk Winnimere (in the spoon on the right), so rich and soft and salty. Accoutrements, which included a honey from their rooftop garden and a chunky quince mostarda, were strong.
Blood orange marshmallow
Ginger semifreddo, honey, kataifi
Candy cap ice cream, salted caramel
I am always a fan of Shawn Gawle’s desserts, and here he put up a beautiful meringue dome set upon a salted caramel. Shattering the surface revealed an ice cream of candy cap mushrooms – delicious.
The mignardises cart at Quince is daunting, but we managed a small selection. Naturally, Gawle’s caneles are a must (although the cinnamon box we loved so much at Saison is absent). Still, here we were supplied with a few more caneles for the road!
Overall, a strong meal from start to finish – definitely two-star level. I’d not hesitate to say that I enjoyed it better than our dinner 3 weeks prior at Coi (although it’s a slightly unfair comparison, given that the latter is still in an incipient stage). Here is a restaurant I can look forward to returning to.