L and I finally got to using the gift card we had for Rialto. Ho hum, this is getting boring. Another great meal produced by Chef Jody Adams and company…
Amuse Bouche: Tapenade with Creme Fraiche - a nice bite
For wine, L selected a glass of Malbec, Altos Las Hormigas, Mendoza 2010, and from the two sips I had, I thought it was a great value for $10.
In a previous visit I had seen them preparing the greens, and although simple, I wanted to see what they could do with “just a salad”. I was not disappointed and this was a really nice way to get going. The greens were dressed pretty much perfectly with the zinfandel vinaigrette (OK, it’s a fancy name for red-wine vinaigrette but it was still great). The roasted pepper was excellent. The ricotta salata was a nice variation on what is typically parmigiano reggiano shavings.
hearty greens… roasted peppers, confit mushrooms, toasted almonds, ricotta salata, zinfandel vinaigrette
Rialto has added some new items on their menu in the past few months and L opted for one of them: the Octopus Terrine. Octopus is somewhat tricky to prepare as it can either be too tough or too mushy. This octopus was extremely tender and had excellent flavor depth all the way through. I would love the opportunity to find out how the kitchen achieved such a fully satisfying flavor and texture right down to the center. Not shown in the picture below is a red pepper caper relish. While the capers are an obvious addition to the relish, it is these little (and obvious) things that can make a dish. In this case, they were certainly a nice enhancement.
Octopus Terrine… pepper caper relish, basil salad, capers, lemon jelly, spicy pine nut oil
For the second course I had the Rabbit Ravioli. These had a surprising, but not objectionable, amount of heat to them. It was surprising because I don’t usually expect that much fire at Rialto. The rabbit filling looked like a confit preparation and was generally moist, well seasoned, and full-bodied. I like a lot of parmigiano on my pasta and this dish delivered.
Rabbit Ravioli… whole grain pasta, hot and sweet peppers, Parmigiano Reggiano
L opted for the crispy sweetbreads with risotto. I adored the sear on the sweetbreads which left the outside firm and tasty (as they say, you sear something to bring out the taste) and the insides cooked and tender. But what I loved even more was the risotto with its firm, not liquidy, texture; this is hard to achieve in a risotto and I thought it demonstrated years of experience with the dish. The sweetness from the currants and raisins was radically different from what most people see in a risotto and I have to say that it worked really, really well. L and I have agreed to disagree on our respective ratings of this dish. I found it to be one of the highlights of the meal, but she didn’t like the sweetness and found it to be the low point.
crispy sweetbreads… parmesan risotto, currants, raisins, pine nuts
For the third course we opted to share the Colorado Lamb two ways. The kitchen graciously plated two half courses on separate plates so that we wouldn’t have to pass one plate back and forth (thank you!), so what you see below is a half portion. The chop is in the lower middle part of the picture and the stuffed leg in the upper left part.
I heard the woman at the table next to us say that she only ate New Zealand lamb. Sorry maam, but you don’t know what you missed but keeping such a narrow point of view. This was an outstanding dish, perfectly cooked and tender to the kitchen’s recommendation of medium rare. I am pretty sure they used some sort of mustard seed in the rub - subtle, but it worked. I won’t say much except, “Wow!”. L and I definitely agree on this point being a highlight and honestly one of the best lamb preparations we have had. Ever. It was that good.
Colorado Lamb two ways… chestnut crusted chop, apricot and rosemary stuffed leg, chanterelle mushrooms
One of our desserts was the pistachio pumpkin semifreddo, the inside being half cake, have ice cream. For me, the highlight of this plate was the meringue on the outside: sweet, creamy, deep. The pumpkin seeds were a cut above my own attempts at preparing these in that they were well-seasoned (not too much, not too little) and not oily.
pistachio pumpkin semifreddo… pistachio cream, spiced pumpkin shooter
The second dessert was the chocolate fig cake. The cake was a bit dry, but the figs excellent, but not consistently flavored across all four slices. When dipped in the Espresso sauce, they were excellent. Overall this was satisfying but we’ve definitely had better desserts at Rialto on previous visits. We were told that Ms. Abbott is departing and I must say we’ll miss her, but look forward to indulging in her future works, whatever they may be.
Chocolate fig Cake… chocolate espresso ganache, roasted fig, hazelnuts
Overall this was a great meal and continued to leave me astonished at how Chef Adams continues to turn out such a fine product after so many years.