|photo from www.princeofpetworth.com|
Valentine’s Day is for lovers….of fine dining. It’s not just me that feels that way, right? It is definitely
one of those occasions when going out to dinner is mandatory. There is always the possibility that quality may suffer because of the high volume of diners, but it a risk that I am willing to bear. Fortunately I am married to someone who feels the same way.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I make a reservation at the recently renovated Ardeo + Bardeo, which is part of the group owned by the acclaimed Ashok Bajaj (Rasika, 701, Bibiana, Oval Room, etc). I know that I should probably leave this task to my husband but I am a control freak…particularly when it comes to restaurants. I’m sure he won’t mind.
We arrive at the restaurant and I immediately spot friends. They are just receiving their entrees so it is a good chance to preview our options. They have selected steak and eggs and ravioli with lobster- neither of which will be an option for my husband (no meat, no shellfish). But I’ll check back later to get their review.
I am a little surprised to be handed a special menu once we are seated. Three courses for $65- no other options. I don’t remember seeing anything about this when I made a reservation. It would not have changed my plans, but I think we should have been informed in advance perhaps when they called to confirm the reservation.
The server arrives and tells us that a glass of champagne comes with the meal and we can have it before or after our dinner. We choose before. This is a nice perk. We also receive an amuse bouche soup, which is a combination of raspberry and beets. Nice touch for Valentine’s Day.
I decide to start with spaghetti squash with orange, chili and basil. I love this dish! You don’t often see spaghetti squash on a menu. The citrus and spice combination is perfect. It’s a little soupy but otherwise delightful. I would make this dish at home if I could.
My husband has the spinach salad, crisp gnocchi, braised fennel and truffle vinaigrette. Pretty. And tasty.
Before I order my entree I revisit my friends to see how they are faring. They give the lobster ravioli a “B” which means that I am looking elsewhere on the menu for my entree. I decide on the Scottish salmon, fennel, chorizo, farro and blood orange. The dish arrives and there is foam. As a Top Cheffan-atic (I just made that up. I like it!), I am intrigued by foam. Does it add to the dish or is it just an unnecessary frill?
I am going to say it is a welcome addition. The salmon is nicely crisped on top but just a teensy bit overcooked. The chorizo provides most of the flavor in the dish. I am not blown away. It is satisfactory.
The only real option for my husband is the brick oven cauliflower “steak”, with lentils and black truffle emulsion. More foam!
This really is a good dish with lots of flavor. But considering it is part of a $65 prix-fixe menu, it is not a particularly good value.
There is a dessert tasting with four different desserts including a chocolate cake, a lemon tart, ice cream and something I can’t recall. I don’t find any of the desserts memorable.
My friends stop by on their way out and I ask them for their rating on my scale of 1-5. They rate their meal somewhere between a 3.2 to 3.5. Our meal is in the same ballpark. I love my appetizer, like my main course, and am indifferent about the dessert.
It would have been nice to have fallen in love with every course on Valentine’s Day. Friends dined here recently and told me that they loved their meal. That’s the thing about dining out. Not everyone has the same taste, and for some people it just takes a little longer to find everlasting love.
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 3.3