There is only one photo of this dinner at bluezoo (Asta took one with his phone), we didn’t want to be busy taking photos of the meal instead of enjoying the meal with Asta and Mrs Asta. So, you’ll just have to read on and imagine the food…
The whole experience was a wonderful mixture of expected and unexpected.
We began with an “unexpected”… Chad, the General Manager, had been making cocktails for a television spot and he was kind enough to share one of the creations with us. It was an amuse bouche cocktail… The Bazooka Joe Cocktail that is always on the menu at bluezoo, but transformed into a sphere – a cocktail shooter in the form of a bright pink ball. It was tasty, but we don’t think that a whole cocktail would be that pleasing.
We each ordered a different cocktail and passed them around. Mrs Asta had a zooberry (which we’ve never had before, even though it’s the signature cocktail at bluezoo; it’s made with blueberry infused vodka, quite tasty), nora had a blood and sand (yes, it’s a favorite), nick ordered the backporch lemonade (we knew we liked this one too, especially the candied ginger + sugar rim on the glass), and Asta ordered the burnt orange (we like it). After we passed the drinks around, nick and Asta swapped… both were pleased with the trade.
Next, we were surprised with another special treat… an amuse bouche of smoked sturgeon and a tokubetsu sake (remember, tokubetsu is a designation meaning that the toji (sake brewer) says this is his best effort). We agreed that the pairing was really good. Asta and nick didn’t much care for the sake without food, they weren’t bowled over by it. Of course, nora, who just loves sake, thought it was fine without food. The smoked sturgeon was pretty surprising, it was reminiscent of smoked trout that Mrs Asta and Asta had on their last vacation to the South Seas – so, it prompted lovely stories. The Astas are heading back to the South Seas next month, we hope they have a lovely time.
We had ordered appetizers. Asta ordered the yellowfin tuna tartare (The tuna was topped with a sriracha sauce that had been cooled in liquid nitrogen. It was “sprinkled” on the tuna and as it warmed the spice and cool temperature perfect complimented the fish) and Mrs Asta ordered the clam chowder – both were pleased with their selections. We split the bacon and clam flatbread, it was as nice as we remembered.
Now, it’s worth noting that none of the four of us is a big eater. Most of the time we have salads or something small… However, tonight was special… Just relax, enjoy old friends (note Asta, this is a reflection of the length of friendship, not your age :)). Simply put, we were beginning to get full and we had already ordered entrees.
Time for another surprise – and this was a big one – the chef came out of the kitchen, followed by four servers, at a nod from the chef, each placed a plate in front of us. OMG! It was suveed/”sous vide” lamb loin, served with pressed potatoes (they were very thinly sliced and prepared with cream) and roasted baby beets accompanied by celery root. This was just so damned good… Asta even took out his phone for a photo! It was paired with a lighter sake. The lamb was tender and oh so flavorful. The potatoes were NOT simply potatoes. And the tiny baby beets were concentrated beet essence. We’ve remarked before about how impressed we are with the treatment of non-seafood at bluezoo, especially how the vegetables can be so distinct and so flavorful. This was simply wonderful.
Okay, on to the entree round…
Asta had the Simply Fish, tonight cobia was one of the choices, with crab and lobster sauce… it was deemed very good and his plate was cleaned. Mrs Asta had the mero (we have a photo here)… she thought it was very good, smooth and rich. The pasta on this evening had a beef sauce, we asked Joseph if we could split the pasta and could we get it with seafood please? OMG again… There was a decent sized filet of fish, a seared scallop, handmade pasta, and a cream sauce. Imagine a sensory portrait of the perfect garlic, cream, and lemon sauce… that’s it! It was so good that Asta wanted to sop up the sauce in our bowls with a hunk of bread (and we happily obliged).
Before we were served the entrees, Chad came over and asked how we were enjoying the evening. Of course, it was fantastic. He and Asta got to talking about the “cooking” behind cocktails, Asta mentioned that he likes rye… After the entrees, Chad comes out of the kitchen, sleeves rolled up slightly, and presents us with a special cocktail… no name… it was a rye cocktail made with an apple cider shrub (apple cider, apple cider vinegar, sugar, spices) and it was topped with an apple cider spice foam. This thing just oozed AUTUMN! at us. It was very, very tasty and very potent. My mouth waters just thinking about it and it was a topic of conversation for the remainder of the weekend.
Finally, as the restaurant was nearly empty at this point, Joseph asked if we’d like dessert? coffee? Well, sure. Asta and Mrs Asta had the chocolate raspberry dessert, excellent. We split the banofee pie, a favorite of ours. Coffees for all.
“Thank you” to Joseph, Amy, and all of the staff. Kudos to Chad and Chef. What a lovely, lovely evening. One that will be in our collective memories for a very long time.