December 18, 2009 at 11:59 am , by Serina Patrick
B and I dined at the self-proclaimed whimsical French-influenced bistro Amuse! last night. Owned by Arnaud Michel of Anis and Andy Alibaksh of Apres Diem, their influence is immediately evident in the warm and inviting decor and Alibaksh’s often disjointed menu offerings.
Chef Lenny Robinson, formerly of Anis and The Tasting Room, heads the kitchen. I wanted to meet him, but alas it didn’t happen.
I started with a Cote du Rhone at the bar as I waited for B to arrive. She walked in toting gifts, one being a stuffed reindeer that we later named Randy. We took a corner booth and started catching up on each other’s man dramas….I swear, I live in a soap opera. Our attentive server, David, suggested a bottle of cab, was it Lummis? (yeah, I forgot to take the wine list Monica!) It was lush and leggy.
The kitchen surprised us with a starter (I would say amuse bouche but it was far too large) of sashimi tuna with fava bean puree, chili oil and preserved lemon. Chef clearly does not know me. Tuna bores the shit out of me even at MF Sushi. Although the texture was nice, there was no flavor. B liked it much more than I did.
Their soup of the day was rabbit and white bean stew. Aha! We can never resist a wascaly wabbit! Seriously, if there is rabbit or brussel sprouts on a menu, you can bet me and B will have them. The stew was hearty and flavorful, although heavy on tomato.
Of the starters, the pork belly was recommended (I always say yes to swine!) and roasted cauliflower sounded intriguing. We also ordered the goat cheese fritters and house salad, all to share. A runner brought out fabulous crispy hot rolls with butter. I’m a sucker for a good bread service and I have to give Amuse! an A.
I don’t even like cauliflower but I think Cliff Bostock said it was good. A few whole pieces of cauliflower sat atop a puree. Pecorino candied pistachios? Maybe they were crushed and sprinkled on top. There was definitely great flavor in this dish but both B and I were perplexed that it was served cold.
The house salad sounded amazing with wood roasted apple, peanuts, 40′s blue and crispy onions. Just as David brought out the two plates (the kitchen split most dishes for us) my phone rang. It was ST. I had to go outside to escape the lovely jazz ensemble by the bar so I could hear his defeated words. Cold, semi-inebriated, and ultimately sad as hell….at least I looked good in my new sweater dress!
Still on the phone, my good friend and amazing Argentinian artist MS arrived with his man S. Quelle surprise! They joined us (see, that big corner booth came in handy!) and we proceeded to regale them with our man dramas. S ordered the house salad and MS got the moules en biere beligique (sans frites). There is the “French influence” on the menu.
I really loved the salad but the apples did not appear to be roasted and the peanuts were missing altogether. S said the dishes here were rather inconsistent, but I must also say the kitchen is still young, the restaurant having only been open a little over a month. Crispy onions on anything make me happy.
Crisp pork belly was served over a slaw of napa cabbage, apple, avocado and yuzu. OK folks, where was the avocado? The pork belly was sufficiently piggy and paired well with the slaw. I dare say there was some mint in the slaw. I hate mint.
When we first arrived I mentioned to our server that I must try the “mac & cheese” (that is how it is printed on the menu). B and I split the lobster tagliatelle entree, described as flavored with oregano, chile, bottarga di mugine, and chive flowers. No mention of tomato. The chunks of lobster were perfectly cooked, yet the sauce was predominantly tomato. I have a weird distaste for tomato with any type of seafood. However, the oregano and chile boosted the flavor. Chive flowers and bottarga di mugine? What the fuck. We never got the “mac & cheese”. We never got the goat cheese fritters either. And dammit, we didn’t even order the brussel sprouts!
But we did, of course, order two desserts. The apple tart with cinnamon ice cream and the butterscotch creme brulee. Another example of something that I expected to be served warm, the apple tart was cold and disappointing. The creme brulee was creme brulee.
We overstayed our welcome by about an hour. Do they close at 10? I guess we were amused!
560 Dutch Valley Road 404-888-1890
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