|Cognac Crusta Cocktail|
The two things that I noticed were that there were no mixers on his bar, just piles of lemons, limes, and oranges. And second, I noted that that Patrick always uses a jigger for his drinks, so "if you come back in a year, you get the exact same cocktail." In between his running back and forth to the dining room to serve tables, we got to chatting about cocktails and talking about St. Germain in particular, which prompted him to make a mixture of lime juice, gin, simple syrup, St. Germaine, sparkling wine, and a shot of Fee Brothers celery bitters for Ann's second cocktail, which tasted a lot like grapefruit juice. My second cocktail was made from Dewar's and something with a clove flavor, possibly Becherovka.
We didn't order wine either, leaving ourselves in Emily's capable hands and she made great use of their extensive half-bottle selection to provide wines for our dinner. I didn't have the energy to wade through what looked like a deep, well thought out, and most reasonably priced wine list, though I could knock it for being a bit heavy on French wines where it could have been a touch heavier on local wines to go with the cuisine. But frankly, I was on vacation and didn't really want to think about the choice of wines. Besides, although I know my own list, I have no clue about other restaurants' lists and though I can make educated guesses about wines, I always ask for help in making my selections, when help is available.
For our first course, Emily brought us glasses of Blanquette de Limoux, a delightful sparkling wine from the southwest of France, typically made from the Mauzac grape. This was paired with a plate of delightful Kumamoto oysters with mignonette. I love these small oysters with the intricate shells, oysters of Japanese origin which were introduced to American Pacific waters in the last century.
|Kumamoto Oysters, a Rare Treat for East Coasters|
|Click to See the Awesome Detail on This Shell|
|Arugula, Candied Walnuts, Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette|
|Mustard, Chard, Radishes and Yogurt Dressing|
|Radishes, Butter, Salt: Sublime|
|Nice to Get an Older Vintage|
|Delicious Rillettes, as Good as my Own|
|Splendid Steak Tartare|
|Omelette Stuffed with Rapini, Goat Cheese, and Spinach|
|Stinging Nettle Gnocchi: Best Dish of the Trip|
|Delicious and Perfectly Cooked Ling Cod|
Our dessert was a lemon panna cotta with rhubarb compote, which I have gleefully stolen for my own restaurant now that rhubarb is coming out of our ears. Because it was served in an 8-ounce canning jar, they didn't have to use as much gelatin as for a panna cotta that has to stand on its own after being unmolded, so the texture was very light and silky, softer than crème brûlée.
The whole experience was relaxed, fun, and refreshingly non-pretentious. The best way for me to sum up this meal is that it was in the top five restaurant meals I have ever had and that the food could have passed for my own at my restaurant. I would be a regular at Thistle if I were in McMinnville and not cooking for a living!