Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a business dinner that was truly extraordinary. Brief history. I've been doing business with this company for at least 5 years. Some of my favorite people in terms of people I work with. This was a special annual visit from my sales rep, customer service rep, and the president of their company. I don't often get to see or talk to the president (Jim) but always enjoy my time with him. He's a father of 3, grandfather of 1 (she's 18 months old and he and his wife take great pleasure in doting on her). He is also a foodie. He and his wife spend their time enjoying fine food, fun food, experiential food. He has the inside scoop on a lot of the food world. He hails from Chicago so he has a lot of great food choices at his fingertips. I was instructed to pick a restaurant. Something "real nice." Eesh! Pressure! I know what kind of food I like... but my budget of nice isn't what this guy was looking for. I nailed it. OAKLEYS bistro If you click over there and read the menu- note the wording. Those are ingredients, not a description of the food. And it isn't every ingredient. But it gives you an idea of what the dish is. It was like eating the dishes created on Iron Chef or other Food Network shows. The plating was impeccable. The food was delicious. I arrived a few minutes early. There was a free wine tasting going on so I enjoyed a couple ounces of white and a couple ounces of red. Came inside and sat down. I ordered a Malbec that was delightfully spicy. We peruse the menu. It's almost overwhelming because the options are so fantastic. I'm completely torn on what to order. Since it's Tuesday, there is a special tasting menu. For $30, you get a 3 course meal. Starter, Entree, Dessert. This Tuesday, the tasting menu started with an heirloom tomato salad, went on to halibut, and ended with banana stuffed french toast. None of it is what it sounds like. The heirloom tomato salad was served on a small rectangular plate. There was a long strip of cucumber that had been curled into a single twist across the plate. On one side of the cucumber was a quarter of a green tomato. Red on the other side. Carmelized pearl onions and blue cheese and croutons dotted the plate. There was a drizzle of... balsalmic vinaigrette and something else (pesto, maybe). It was pretty. It was impressive. And the flavors layered together beautifully. 2 of us had the tasting menu. 1 had the duck. 1 had the vegetable plate. The halibut was served on a small bed of perfectly creamy mashed potatoes. There were a few peas, thin slices of asparagus, an avocado mixture on top, various crispy, thin greens of some sort. (I really should have swiped the menu so I could remember what it all was). The duck- I had a bite- was delicious. I've never liked duck. Apparently, I've never had it cooked properly. On one side of the plate was a sliced piece of duck. Fanned out, pink in the middle, the outside lightly crispy. A spring roll of duck confit off to the side. It looked so yummy. The vegetable assortment... was simply gorgeous. A vegetable lasagna. An open mushroom ravioli. Couscous stuffed cabbage. Peas with a parmesan pudding. I had a little bite of that pudding. Heaven. Bliss. It wasn't overwhelmingly cheesy or overly rich. It was so impressive when set down that I simply had to try and take a pic. Unfortunately, the flash went off so it isn't nearly as pretty in the pic as it was when set down. The dessert wasn't what it sounded like in my "IHOP mind." No texas toast or supersized bread soaked in egg and milk and cooked on a griddle. No way. No slices of chunks of banana. It was a small square of banana bread. A sprinkling of pecans. A small scoop of what tasted like chocolate gelato. A fresh strawberry, a leaf of mint. It was a true dining experience. Some of the bites were so perfect... I nearly cried. You all know that food has the potential to be really powerful for me. And this was one of those meals that I will never forget and am eager to experience again. I told Christy all about the meal and we jumped online so I could point to things and remember things. We also read more about the Chef Proprietor, Steven Oakley. This man has worked hard to get to where he is. And he pays it back, pays it forward. Check out what he does for the community. Christy and I are going to celebrate my birthday. My birthday falls on a Weds so we will celebrate the evening before, after work. We want to go on Tuesday so we can be there for another wine tasting, another tasting menu. I'm not sure we can wait the weeks between now and then without breaking down and making a Tuesday evening of it much sooner.