Although I work behind the scenes in a fine dining restaurant, I had never before dined out as a guest in one. The very day I started working I wondered what it'd be like to be on the receiving end of a restaurant that serves four course meals and chefs tasting menus. Whether in Rhode Island, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York, fine dining restaurants surround the public eye, inviting guests only for an evening affair to experience their wild and glorious menus. During Restaurant week in Newport Rhode Island I wanted to treat myself to a true culinary experience, knowing in that week dining out would go easy on my wallet. From my daily walks through the city, I came across a placed called Tallulah's. Curious about their menu, I asked some highly acclaimed chefs of Newport about its concept and was told to check it out. It took me about and hour to figure out what I was going to wear, and then I set out for my 5:30 dinner reservation. Once inside the acute dining room, hosting eight tables of two tops and four tops, I noticed the open kitchen, where three cooks stood before the executive chef. They were all wearing bandannas, which I thought was a rustic touch to the usual chefs attire. While watching the cooks pre- game for their first dinner ticket, two waitresses sat my friend NJ and I, giving us the restaurant week menu to browse over, and asking if we would like sparkling or distilled water. There were two routes to travel on the menu, I chose the first and NJ chose the second, so that we can see everything the kitchen was offering that evening. What I find very interesting about some fine dining experiences is that you are bombarded with intermezzos between each course; and there is never a time you are sitting without a utensil in hand.
First, set down in front of us was the amuse bouche (bite size appetizer), which was the Thai inspired soup. I think the amuse bouche is a great way to ease the guest into the larger courses they get to experience next. And the great thing about intermezzos, is that every diner in the restaurant is receiving the same amuse or pre dessert as the other. The only room for a guests meal preference, is when choosing main courses.
After eating first course which was a beet salad (above) one of our two waitresses that evening brought us our focaccia. Some upscale restaurants have a bread service between meals, where a front of the house employee walks around with a tray of four or five varieties of bread to choose from. But at Tallullah's they pre- decided our choice of bread that night. I devoured the focaccia soaked in olive oil, and was so close to asking for another piece.
Depending on the place you eat at, front of the house will change your silverware between courses as well as crumb the table, if it has become a little messy. Something I also enjoy in fine dining, is synchronized service, when the waiters placed food in front of the guest simultaneously. When each course was brought to us, I got to experience this. Finally I received my entree, which was hanger steak, and most likely the best way I have ever eaten it. It was cooked perfectly, the chimichurri was course and spicy, and the sun-choke puree was so buttery.
After the main course, we were brought our pre- dessert. The role of a pre- dessert is to cleanse your palate after a savory meal, getting you ready for something sweet. For this reason, it will most likely be an acidic treat. The perfect melon balled scoop of grape fruit sorbet was just the right amount of tang, washing away any meaty, buttery, and salty flavors from my main entree. The dessert I experienced there after, was dark chocolate cremeaux, similar to a pastry cream. It sat on top of a chocolate smear and aside a pistachio ice cream quenelle. It is very common to see desserts in elegant restaurants plated this way; the main component in the middle of the plate, a spread of chocolate, caramel, or fruit puree beneath, a quenelle of sorbet or ice cream resting somewhere on the side, and a crumble around the dish that acts as garnish. Overall the evening spent at Tallulah's was spectacular, and am ecstatic about my first fine dining experience.