Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Lumiere Tasting Bar

There was an announcement in the food section of my local paper that the Lumiere Tasting Bar was selling its bar bites cheap. As I'd already sampled the expensive stuff on my birthday two years ago, this seemed a good place to go for my birthday this year, and not be tied to a set menu. The glowing bar was certainly inviting.

The website spoke lovingly of its cocktails. This one is called the New French Martini, made with vodka, Chambord, pineapple juice and Cordoniu Cava Rose. Amazing drink. I think I'm at West. I eventually have three.

The Ritz Royale, made with brandy, Maraschino liquer, Cointreau, lemon juice and sparkling wine. With all those bubbles going off on my mouth, I felt like Einstein discovering E=MC2. One reason may have been I couldn't taste the ingredients, kept wondering what was in the drink, even though I was reading the list of ingredients. A very intellectually stimulating beverage. One was enough, however.

The menu decouvertes: produits de la mer sounded like my kinda food. On the top left, tuna tartare with soy truffle vinaigrette. As always with uncooked fish, I ate only a few molecules. Below, thankfully is a delectable bit of arctic char, with pea shoots, trumpet mushrooms and a sauce vierge. Next to it, a vividly black spot prawn ravioli soaked in squid ink with linguine made of the squid tentacles, also in a sauce vierge. Never has a ravioli deserved so much ink. Above it, a seared scallop with salted potatoes and a sunny side quail's egg. I avoided the egg, however sunny it might have been, but loved the scallop. OK, not as good as the "appetisers" at Cioppino's I'd eaten 3 days before, but then neither is anything else.
While I was feasting on the sea food discovery plate, my friend X first had the chicken noodle soup, made with a whole free range chicken breast and garlic croutons. Next, she had the above beef dip, while guzzling Gewurz spritzers. She commented that it reminded her of her grandmother's cooking, only better. If chef Dale Mackay can't find a chef's job after this restaurant closes this summer, maybe he can get work as a French grandmother.
I was hungry enough to order Mackay's special butternut squash and mascarpone ravioli in black truffle beurre blanc after my fishy tidbits. It was astonishing. Every ravioli released a mouthful of cheesy squash soup as you bit into it. No, I don't think Mackay will ever lack for work as a chef. People would line up just to eat this ravioli.
I made the mistake of ordering a specialty coffee and having them invent something for me. I recall eating at the fancy part of Lumiere two years ago and having the same problem getting a drinkable coffee. After a few sips, I sent it back, washed out my mouth with some Coeur de Lion XO, and then went back to the spectacular New French Martini pictured above.


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