Monday, April 29, 2013

Honeymoon: Irish Table, Cannon Beach OR

Monday April 29, Cannon Beach OR

The Irish Table is the restaurant that the Sleepy Monk coffeehouse becomes after the coffee crew goes home at 4pm. Or is it the other way around? And on a Monday night, is one of the few restaurants open in Cannon Beach. They don't take reservations, but we called ahead and were told that a table would likely be open at 7:30. It seemed to be an early crowd; the place was rocking when we arrived, but was all done by about 8:30, still, not a bad crowd for a Monday night.

I like the place; I liked it in the morning as a coffee house and I liked it in the evening as a restaurant. What I most liked about it aside from the rustic décor that I have already described in the Sleepy Monk post are the people. Crystal and Sean Corbin and Sean's brothers run the place and they are extremely warm and friendly people. Crystal is the chef and everyone else pitches in. And they seem to be having fun, which is something that you have to do to make a long run in this crazy business.

We Started with Delicious Soda Bread and Butter
If you're a wino, the wine list is extremely limited, but after all, the place is an Irish gastropub of sorts, so no big surprise there. The menu is also extremely limited with 5-6 appetizers and 5-6 entrées. I'm OK with that. As long as what you do is first rate, I can be OK with a menu that consists of a single item.

Domain Serene: Overpriced
Sean's brother Luke was our affable server and he brought us a couple of nice Riedel glasses without our having to ask when we ordered the Domaine Serene Evenstad 2008. Ann noted that not everyone was drinking from decent glassware. I enjoyed this juicy and highly ranked Pinot, but there is no bang for the buck. I've tasted scores of wines that I like better at a fraction of the price.

We started with Curried Mussels, which proved to be big plump Penn Cove mussels in a very tasty broth with shallots and cream. Crystal used a deft hand with the curry that other chefs have used to destroy dishes. Alas, the mussels were just slightly undercooked (another 60 seconds on the heat and they would have been perfect) and the tasty broth was too acidic for even a huge acid fiend like me. It was too dark inside the candlelit restaurant for the photo of the mussels to work.

We also had the roasted beet salad with greens, pickled onions, Cashel blue cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and a citrus vinaigrette on the sweet side with honey. The presentation surprised me: each of the ingredients was composed on top of the greens; I was expecting it all to be tossed together. Funny how we start to picture a dish before it is served! I loved this salad except for the beets. They were a bit woody and undercooked.

Beet Salad: Nice Presentation, Vast Quantity
And oh by the way, the portions are vast. One appetizer would have been plenty.

Ling Cod on Potatoes

For one entrée, we ordered roasted ling cod with roasted fingerlings, grape tomatoes, some kind of shredded green (I couldn't see in the dark), and a very light creamy lemon sauce that Luke referred to as an aïoli. The ling cod was beautifully cooked, but wasn't seasoned, enough or at all it would seem. Moreover, I really didn't get the whole presentation of fish atop a pile of roasted potatoes with some grape tomatoes strewn about. Roasted potatoes and mild white fish just don't work in my culinary lexicon.

When I see roasted fingerlings on a menu like this, I think cop out. It seems the kind of dish you would throw on as a special at the last second because you need something to fill out the menu and that is all you have left in the cooler. It seems just the idea that I would have rejected out of hand in a menu meeting if one of the line cooks had brought it up. Now maybe take that lemon idea and do a lemon thyme-infused potato tart topped with greens and fish, maybe, maybe that's something to work with.

Irish Stew on Colcannon
It was a chilly evening and the Irish stew on colcannon sounded just about perfect for the weather. It turned out to be our least favorite dish of the meal, being too heavy on the sticky sauce which was somewhere between a glace and a demiglace. The sauce wanted to be lifted with some acidity to help offset the mouth-coating nature of the super-reduction. Sadly, I couldn't taste the lamb for the sauce.

After dinner, we spent a good while chatting with Crystal (and Sean) and swapping war stories and then took our leave into the chilly darkness to go back to the motel. All in all, we had a good meal despite the technical issues. We would go back, but more for the people than the food.

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