Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where are the truffles, at Truffles?

I admit, one of my most favorite things in the world is: Irony.  I love seeing things that are either described for what they are not or named for something they are not.  One of my favorite examples of irony has to do with the names of cars and vehicles in the automotive industry.  For instance: an SUV called an Armada, when an armada is a group of warships from Spain.  A single vehicle, is not an armada, it is a single vehicle.  I also like the car that is called a Rendezvous.  A rendezvous is a location for a meeting, as in, a bar may be a rendezvous spot.  A car, by its very nature, cannot be a static meeting spot because it moves around. You cannot suggest to meet by the blue Rendezvous on Memorial Drive, unless you know for certain that the vehicle will not move and remain stationary no matter what.  A moving meeting place, doesn't really act as a reliable meeting place.

So, first off, at Truffles, there was nothing on the menu that had truffles in it.  That is ironic because the restaurant is named Truffles!  If I opened a restaurant called Tasty Pizza and didn't serve pizza, that would be ironic.  Now, apart from a bad walk down the nomenclature aisle, the restaurant is very nice and should be visited.

My wife and I went there to celebrate my birthday and we went there because Niche didn't have an open spot, even 3 days ahead, before 9:30pm, 30 minutes before they close.  But that is another story; http://tasty-magazine.blogspot.com/2011/10/niche-best-of-luck-because-im-your.html.

The restaurant is nice, from the outside, it has large windows, which look blacked-out.  On the inside, it is made to look like a fine Italian restaurant, complete with large stained glass dome in the ceiling and fake wooden walls and windows on the inside. Let's just say that on the outside, it looks like a normal red brick building and on the inside looks so much nicer.  My wife and I were given a nice seat and we started our fun, which was looking at the menu and trying to decide what to get.

They started to get our attention by giving us a very knowledgeable waiter who was filled with book-smarts but no street smarts.  For instance, he was okay with us mentioning to him that we were foodies, but then he explained to us what Swiss Chard was.  They eventually gave us some bread and butter spread.  The bread tasted like a small Italian bread with some added sugar for sweetness.  The spread was like someone took some butter and added large amounts of parsley, olive oil and basil.  It was tasty and better than the normal bread and butter.

Next we ordered our starters and I wanted something different.  I have cooked with beef marrow before, having used it to make some great tasting beef stock and soup base.  So, I thought it would be a huge risk, as in something that neither my wife or I had ever done before.  My wife wanted to try something new and ordered the "Housemade Salumi   |   chef’s selection of three, seasonal garnish, crostini." whcih she really enjoyed and was an interesting mix of what the restaurant is capable of.  The only issue that my wife had was in the explanation of what it was.  The waiter explained that there was a preservative of an inedible fruit that they make edible.  He used "preservative" where he meant to say "preserve" and he didn't explain it that well. But overall, my wife loved everything on the dish and would likely say a good 3&1/2 out of 5 stars on this.
I had picked the "Roasted Bone Marrow   |   pistachios, capers, crostone, herb salad" which is shown below the salumi dish.  My wife thought it so primal yet elegant to eat the mushy insides of a cow's bone, but yet have it flavored so balanced and tasty that you could eat it right from the bone using those little spoons.  The taste wasn't super beefy, but just beefy enough that it went perfect with the Italian herbs and olive oil  I was in love, especially with the thyme that was the "herb salad".  When you smeared the marrow mix onto a piece of toast and then sprinkled some of the herb on top, it was super delicious.  It tasted unlike anything I ever tasted before and the wonderfulness of eating something this unusual for me, was so good.  Considering that it was tasty and new to both of us, I gave it a 5 out of 5 stars.

My wife then had her turn to pick something interesting and then chose "Cocoa Maccheroni   |   duck ragu, rosemary, piave stravecchio".  We had it explained to us, even though I have made pasta, from scratch at home before.  I have even made chocolate pasta, which isn't sweet, so we had an idea of what we were getting ourselves into.  We ordered it and it came in time.
It was a very tasty dish.  The pasta was cooked perfectly, the flavor was spread out evenly among the dish so there wasn't a big pile of one thing in one spot, like a bunch of duck one one spot and none in another.  It was as if this dish was mathamatically designed so it would have been spread out evenly everywhere.  It was also very earthy as you tasted that duck, along with just a faint hint of the cocoa.  I think we gave it a 3&1/2 again.  My wife did point out that when it was first served to her, it was white on brown on brown.  It could have used some color to it and in a location where almost ever dish had basil in it, I was surprised that there wasn't a bit on top, either sprinkled or even for garnish.

I wanted to order some venison, but because it was out, I ordered the "Beef Shortrib   |   ragu genovese, smoked olive oil".  It was great.  It was beefy and had what tasted like a normal scoop of regular store bought Italian sauce on top of it.  Besides how simple it seemed, it was delicious and was a good 3 out of 5 for me.
It had the down to earth beef flavor mixed lightly in this rich Italian sauce with basil and some mushrooms.  It was good and really seemed to work well together.

Sides were a big decision as so many looked good.  I think my wife felt green deprived with her pasta dish and so decided on the "braised winter greens with garlic, sicilian anchovy and preserved lemon."  There was a large issue with this dish being that it was very, very wet.  She thought it would be more like a salad, with some dressing on it.  But the greens were over-cooked and reminded me of a dish that someone would make with frozen greens.  They were broken, watery and flavorless.  I think this got a 2 out of 5 stars.
I picked something that can never be screwed up:potatoes.  I picked the "roasted carola potatoes with olives, garlic and parsley" and it was so perfectly done, just like it should be.  Each small potato was perfectly cooked through, not too soft and mushy and not to hard and crisp.  They were perfectly seasoned as well as normal potato dishes are sometimes too salty and this was just right.  A 3 out of 5 for me.

All-in-all, I'd say that Truffles was a very good restaurant.  If you combine some great food selections with some great ideas, you get this restaurant.  While it wasn't what I was hoping for, it did the best job it could providing me and my wife with a lovely evening.  I suggest going to Truffles, even if you don't try calling Niche first.

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