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On Saturday, we made the trek
To see this season's hot Top Chef.
Our friends, The Cruisers, met us here.
Fine dining fun and much good cheer!
On every wall, there was a ship --
So strange 'cause Mikey V. is hip.
Meanwhile, the contrast's just berserk.
We knew ahead what we would get.
You know the tasting's the best bet.
Bread so good, you might fill up.
Bacon, truffle, yup yup yup.
Amuse bouche -- almost holy,
Loved these fancy chips and guac!
Made me smile! Man, they rocked!
I wish I could go on rhyming, but now it's time for the real show. Behold the art of Chef Michael Voltaggio! The Plating Picasso of Pasadena!
Japanese shima aji, pickled baby peach, sea sponge, bonito.
This fresh firm fish topped with an aquatic marshmallow kicked things off beautifully. The sweet, tangy, and lightly crisp accompaniments paired well.
Langoustine, young fennel, lobster mushroom lasagna.
Excellent. Meaty meaty langoustine. Rich and creamy lasagna. Great juxtaposition.
Foie gras, blood orange, salsify, aerated brioche.
What's better than foie gras? Foie gras with fruit filling inside! Sublime.
Skate wing, brown butter, scrambled cauliflower, caper powder.
Pastrami pigeon, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, rye.
I love pastrami, but I don't love squab (well, at least not as much as I love other tiny fowl). I didn't know how I'd react to this dish. The verdict? Pure joy! A salty juicy masterpiece! (That's what she said!)
Japanese Kuroge beef, marrow toast, matsutake, Bordelaise sauce.
East meets West meets Awesome. The meat was luscious and the marrow decadent.
Nitro egg nog.
This is how Dippin' Dots are done at The Dining Room, dude. Damn delish.
Fool's Gold, chocolate, salty hazelnut praline, milk sorbet.
This was the ladies' dessert. Not sure why women are always given chocolate. I find this practice very...Cathy. I hate that stupid comic strip. But I digress. I only had a few nibbles of this because too much chocolate gives me hives, but what little I had was quite yummy.
Baba au rhum, exotic fruits.
This was the gentlemen's dessert. Now this, dear readers, was something. Super dreamy. Ms. Cruiser said it best: "It tastes like vacation." I can't think of higher praise than that.
Chocolate pop rock suckers, lemon fennel mini macarons, fruit gelées.
While most tiny things taste better than their large versions, mini macarons always disappoint me. These had a very interesting flavor -- tart and herby -- but the consistency of mini macarons never rises to the greatness of their regular-sized cousins. They sure are cute, though.
The gelées were gelées. Fine but nothing crazy. Of note, however, the wrappers were edible. We had a good time noshing on faux cellophane.
The whole night was a blast. It always is with The Cruisers. And it got even better when we all visited the kitchen and chatted with Chef Voltaggio.
Don't believe all the TV editing. We found him to be quite nice. He asked us about our favorite dishes, was really excited about a visit to the restaurant by The Office writing staff a week before, and lamented about his long commute from Venice to Pasadena. Totally down-to-earth guy.
The one thing you should believe from TV is that Michael Voltaggio is an exceptional talent and is entirely deserving of the Top Chef title.
And, even if you think he is cocky, guess what? He can back it up and then some.
Go to The Dining Room and experience the magic for yourself. Not every chef can bring whimsy on a plate in a room full of old, framed 3D clipper ship dioramas.