Original post February 9, 2009
I figured I'd go out with some glory. With Furlough Fridays in effect I am one who will be taking a paycut thanks to Arnold. I've had to tell my Meetup group that I'll be doing fewer, if any, dining out events now. Another casualty of the economic mess. For my last Meetup fine dining event I had chosen Hawks in Granite Bay.
It's interesting that as Chilis and Applebees are closing there are plenty of higher end restaurants doing just fine. Demonstrates just where this economic crisis is hitting - the lower classes. People in the upper income brackets seem to be doing just fine, or they are faking it really well. Point is, Hawks was nearly full on a Thursday night.
We were seated at a nice round table in the middle of the room and presented with the menus. There were a few items that peaked my interest. My friend, Darcie, had also recently visited and she had made some recommendations which I shared with my group. We were very tempted by one item we noticed - an offering of a seven course meal for $80 per person. The catch is that everyone at the table must agree to do it. We inquired and the waiter explained that the seven courses included: soup, salad, pasta, fish, meat, sorbet, dessert. He also said they could do a five course for $65, which would eliminate the pasta and sorbet. In the end we decided to pass and made our individual selections.
While we waited we were presented with an amuse bouche. The cute spoons were filled with edamame and topped with soy tapioca pearls that had been marinated in something. There was something else, but I can't remember the entire description. It was different. I neither liked or disliked it. The soy pearls were very much like a caviar, salty, and they perked up the edamame.
I started with the cauliflower soup with Caribbean shrimp and chive emulsion. I'm not a cauliflower fan generally, but don't mind it in a delicious soup. There were three small rock shrimp that were slightly seasoned. What was nice was that they gave Robert a small taster of the soup while the rest of us had our starters.
Darcie had told me about the calamari, which Sue ordered. The calamari was on top of cannellini beans and broccoli rabe, a very different presentation for fried calamari. Eileen chose the foie graw terrine with caramalized pineapple and watercress. Rhonda selected the ahi tuna tartare with toast points. Both looked good and seemed to be enjoyed.
Everyone has raved about the shortribs at Hawks. Sacatomato and Darcie said that the shortribs were excellent. I was very tempted to try them because of that, but Robert ordered them and agreed to give me a taste. It was served with glazed root vegetables. My small taste was packed with flavor and super moist and tender. I thought it lived up to its rep, especially since short ribs are not something that I've ever cooked myself. But Sue also ordered it and declared her homemade ones were better.
My fish experience had been so good at La Provence last week that I decided to go for a fish here as well. I chose the trout with creamed garlic lentils and chicories. Beautiful dish. The trout was pan fried to perfection. The creamy lentils were nice and garlicy and I wished I had just a bit more of it on the plate. It was topped with raisins, capers, and the greens. I found that the sweetness of the raisins were a great counter to the saltiness of the capers. Wonderful dish.
There were many interesting items on the dessert menu as well. Darcie told me not to get the lemon souffle because, at $11, it wasn't worth the money. She said it was one bite of lemon and the rest was air. Good for souffle, but not a good bang for the buck. I was torn between their sticky toffee pudding and the brioche beignets. I received four sugared beignets with pots of chocolate and salted caramel. I was disappointed. The beignets were more like glorified doughnut holes than being close to a true beignet. We were reminiscing about the powdered sugar beignets of Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. These had granulated sugar instead of powdered and made it seem all the more like doughnuts. I also wanted more chocolate and didn't care for the caramel, which I had made recently for one of my Daring Bakers challenges.
Rhonda was the winner on dessert. She ordered the sticky toffee pudding and allowed me a taste. It was delightful. Super moist like it should be and so light in texture that it just melted in your mouth. If I can get my sticky toffee pudding that light I'd have a real winner.
We were surprised by one last item, a plate of homemade truffles and candies.
As for service, we got off to a slow start. After being seated it took a long time to get our menus, then our drinks, then even our bread. But as we finally gave our order and the dishes started to arrive, everything was well paced and attentive. As each course was served a crew of plate laden servers would march out so that our plates were placed before us in unison. Our table was constantly cleaned of crumbs in a very discreet way so that one time I had noticed the crumbs and the next time I looked over, they were gone. And at the end of the meal we received a visit from the owner and her new, sleeping baby girl.
I do look forward to returning in the future when I have the funds or get a special treat. Next time I am hoping to try one of the multicourse meals.