Helen and i decided to indulge in a fancypants wintertime meal for no reason other than we just really enjoy spoiling ourselves silly. we opted for Acquerello because it's been on our list for a while and we'd thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at their sister restaurant, 1760, not too long ago. i consider Acquerello sort of a hidden gem. while it's got great reviews, service and food, it's somehow not as well known as some of the other San Francisco restaurants of the same caliber. i feel like it's understated and i'm not sure why as my experience was truly memorable and noteworthy.
Acquerello offers pre fixe menus in your choice of 3 ($82), 4 ($96), 5 ($110) courses or their tasting menu. we opted for the Truffle Tasting Menu ($195), hence the sleepy eyes in the photo above. all of that rich truffle will surely put you in the most wonderful version of food coma you've ever experienced, not to mention the tasting menu consists of ten well (and hearty) portioned dishes to make you an instant few pounds heavier.
service is stellar here. you should expect that you will not be opening any doors during your visit (but expect it because their standard of service is well above average and not because you're just a diva/o that doesn't open her/his own doors in general). this is the kind of establishment that places a white or black napkin on your lap in accordance with the color of clothing you've chosen to wear at mealtime. everybody whom you are approached by speaks in a pleasant tone and makes eye contact with all parties at the table. they gave Helen a short stool to place her purse on. did you read that? a stool for her purse!! that's definitely the first time i've seen that. though because of short-people-syndrome, it was more desirable to use the stool as a foot stool. but don't worry, she refrained so as not to be an embarrassment. from the moment i walked in through the doors of Acquerello to the moment we stepped out was one of the most pleasant dining experiences i've had.
Truffle Tasting Menu
orange and bergamot juice
a refreshing, vibrant start to the meal with seasonal citrus
cheese/herb puff and gravlax over crostini
they actually called these 'chef's surprises' instead of 'amuse bouche.' both tasty little bites.
parmesan budino with truffle perlage
creamy and rich with truffle, though light in density. the caviar gave it some texture and the acidity of the salad cut through some of the richness.
olive oil poached egg yolk with potato foam and black truffles
there's never a time where delicately placed shaved truffle isn't welcome by me. add a sous vide egg yolk and crisp breadcrumbs and you've got the most winning dish. there was nothing not delectable about this.
truffle risotto with shaved white truffle
aaahh the beautiful white truffle! expensive as all hell (they offered shaved white truffle on each dish in place of black truffle for $65/dish. cray, forreal.). this dish was generous with the quantity and quality of risotto and fresh shaved truffle. another ultra rich plate that i savored happily.
poussin, celery root puree, apples, escarole and truffle foam
the chicken was cooked nicely and seasoned perfectly. the apple was a nice pairing. but the celery root puree is what stood out for me. it was creamier than i could imagine celery root could ever be. it's hard to describe but for it's density it surprisingly held great smoothness. i'm not sure that makes any sense to you, but it does me.
ridged pasta with 'foie gras', black truffle and marsala
i'm not sure if the 'foie gras' was indeed faux or whether it was written that way so as not to be informant to regulators considering foie gras is illegal in california. either way, 'twas delicious. the marsala was a tad bit sweeter than i wanted it to be but still a verrrry enjoyable dish. best believe i cleaned up every tiny speck of that sauce with rosemary bread.
Snake River Farms NY steak, chantrelle mushrooms, confited potatoes and bone marrow sauce
well cooked tender beef and good accompaniments but nothing special about this dish.
Cusie 'al malto di Orzo e whisky' with bourbon caramel semifreddo, Red Britton shiso and candied olives
this was surprisingly my favorite dish of the night. it was SO good that i would apply the cheesy (pun accidentally intended) phrase "oh my heavens" to the way i felt about this combination of flavors. the cheese was sharp and fragrant. the bourbon caramel semifreddo was the perfect amount of sweet and creamy with a very slight bitter note to it. the candied olive's brine added an interesting saltiness. these tastes in combination might not seem like they would marry well but good god was it magical all up in my taste buds! i could eat this all day!
vanilla-rose chantilly cream, nasturtium granita, compressed blueberries
a refreshing segway into sweet courses. cool. creamy. floral.
white truffle gelato, cocoa crumb and shaved Valrhona chocolate 'truffle'
not overly rich, which was a positive thing. the truffle in this was subtle but still made it's statement. the chocolate cocoa crumb had a salt component which enhanced the sweetness in a good way.
black truffle macaron
like, seriously? black. truffle. macaron. are there better things in this world? i'm not sure. the truffle flavor was amazing and potent. i really didn't want to part with this. like, seriously. i stared at it in awe of how it surpassed any expectation i had of what a truffle macaron could taste like. but the inevitable last bite came along and though i will likely never encounter the Black Truffle Macaron again in my lifetime, i'm so happy to have at least met it and experienced it. it's almost like 'the one that got away.' le sigh.
server: we'd like to finish your night with a sweet bite. what would you like?
me: selfishly, every sweet bite except the gelee, please!
"and a little something for breakfast."
from start to finish, everything about Acquerello was on point. this has been one of the best meals i've eaten in a while. and that's saying a lot because i just ate at Per Se not too long ago. fellas, if you've got a special occasion coming up with a woman you want to keep, take her here!!