Well... they've certainly worked the kinks out since opening...
An exciting night to begin with: there was an island-wide black out (somebody obviously flipped the wrong switch at the wrong time) and we were biting our nails wondering if the restaurant would open. We also learned that Cafe 080 has a generator so that was Plan B. But the culinary gods smiled and away we went.
One note: Dennis is still cooking at Carte Blanche - he designed the menu and trained the staff; Art from Marandi is now the executive chef here and put some of his own touches on the menu. An incredible meeting of two culinary minds.
First the building and decor: a stunning reno of an art deco building downtown. There's a fun, old-time retail turnstile that you swing through to enter the restaurant; the hostess station is a red-painted oil barrel, a number of wine stations around the room are 1950s office desks painted turquoise; the bar is inviting with a giant propeller behind it. The dining room has vaulted cathedral ceilings that make the space seem massive. Tables are well spaced and there's a private room off to the side. The washrooms are well-designed and CLEAN.
The staff were wonderful: from the greeting to the cheque, everybody was pleasant, knowledgeable and always available at the right moment without being over-bearing.
The food: You know when you can't eat another bite but dessert still awaits and you're terrified to miss any piece of a menu? That describes last night.
We started with two martinis - ice cold. Perfect.
Amuse bouche: they've brought some touches from Carte Blanche... the amuse was two lamb croquettes with two shot glasses of creamy mushroom soup. They started with a bang. It was a beautiful start.
Appetizers: I had an incredible plate of oysters prepared three ways: raw, Rockefeller and Peruvian (served in a shot glass and described on the menu as "sweet/sour/spicy with hints of salt". The Spouse had "Wilhelmina’s Ravioli'; after the apps, we decided that we need to live at the restaurant.
There was a couple from Atlanta next to us and their mains arrived while we were looking at the menu. Her dish was stunning - it looked like a lobster but was actually a shrimp as big as your head. Bingo!
With that in mind, I ordered the "Shrimp, Pancetta & Langoustine" - they were a little low on Pancetta so they added scallops and served it on a bed of sautéed vegetables and gnocchi. I may have blacked out after two bites. The Spouse had the rib eye "Boneless Prime Rib" and exclaimed, "If I start to keel over and die right now, just pour this jus in my mouth and let me go..."
While I was busting at the seams, I was going to have dessert or die trying. "Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate" - cake, mouse, shaved chocolate and dame blanche. And, with that, I died and went to culinary heaven.
Glass of wine each and two bottles of San Pellagrino.
$282 USD (including tip).
I'm already booking January and February!!!