Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fine Dining

Tonight we went out for a fancy dress-up dinner at Mosaic Restaurant on Washington Street. It was one of the places that had a special menu for Downtown Restaurant Week. We've participated in the promotion a couple of times, because it's a great way to try places we wouldn't normally get to. Most of the restaurants offer a special menu of 3 courses for $25, but since Mosaic is a fusion restaurant that specializes in small plates, we got five courses for the same price!

Since parking on Washington on a Saturday night can be tough, the restaurant's complementary valet parking was a nice touch. We didn't have to wait for a table, and the waitress quickly appeared for a drink order. When she came back with the drinks, we were ready to place our dinner order; since we were ordering from a limited menu, there weren't a whole lot of choices!

Soon after the waitress left, a server came with the amuse bouche, which was served on a Oriental soup spoon. There was a small piece of scallop on top of a clear liquid that tasted like rhubarb. The scallop was topped with a tiny square of jalapeno, and a beautiful bit of orange flower petal crowned the whole thing. It was literally one wonderful bite.

The second course was soup. There were three on the menu--butternut squash soup, Asian style sweet and sour consomme, and cherry-tomato gazpacho. I chose the gazpacho and Tony went with the butternut squash soup. My soup was good, but the butternut squash (their signature soup) was one of the best I have ever tasted. We ended up trading cups halfway through.

After the soup came the salad; only two choices so we each picked one. My flatbread panzanella had less bread than I would have expected (it was more like croutons than a main ingredient), but the dish was very good. The flatbread was mixed with greens, Kalamata olives, cucumbers, and bacon, and dressed with a wonderful vinaigrette. Tony's fresh mozzarella caprese had layers of tomato and mozzarella and pieces of mango, cucumber, and toasted hazelnuts. The salad came with two droppers: one contained basil vinaigrette and the other balsamic reduction.

We got to choose from beef, salmon, or chicken for the main course. Tony chose a New York strip steak served with three large smoked corn and peekytoe crab ravioli. The meat was a bit rarer than he would have liked, but quite flavorful and tender. My achiote roast chicken came with butternut squash, candied sunflower seeds, and two cumin “tots”. The boneless breast of chicken had a small bit of crisp skin still attached. The exterior of the chicken was a beautiful red color from the achiote, but the interior was milky white. It made for a beautiful contrast. The small squares of squash were perfectly cooked and the "tots" was more like mashed potatoes that had been shaped, coated, and fried. The sunflower seeds added a nice crunchy contrast.

For dessert, we received a plate with a medley of deserts. There was a panna cotta topped with blueberry compote, two bite-sized lemon cakes (more like a cupcake) with red glaze on top, and two cookies containing wafers, layers of caramel and chocolate, covered in yet more chocolate. As we drank coffee and polished off the desserts, I realized that we'd just had a fabulous meal.

Downtown Restaurant Week runs from August 3-9 this year, so it's almost too late to take advantage of it. However, this was the fifth year the promotion has taken place, so there's a good chance you can look for it again next year.