My husband and I were seated at a window table last Saturday, the first quiet evening after what we were told had been a busy summer. We perused the small menu. I was intrigued by an appetizer called Woven Asparagus “Mat” with Truffled Egg Salad and Meyer Lemon Emulsion. My husband was tempted by the White Lentil Stew with Smoked Ham Hock. Our waiter, Cameron, cautioned us that Chef Paul, who was also on hand that evening, would be sending out some surprises from his new menu, so we decided against additional appetizers. (The appetizer I had been contemplating is, Cameron told us, composed of asparagus stalks thinly sliced lengthwise, woven and topped with egg salad. I’m still intrigued and might experiment, next time I have thick asparagus.)
Even as we awaited the preview appetizers, we sipped Carmenere from one of Concha y Torres labels and nibbled on slices of a very fine baguette. In a three-compartment “butter dish” were a triangle of plain butter in one , olive oil and balsamic vinegar in another and a small scoop of saffron utter in a third (right). To me, good bread signals good food to come. The kitchen sent out a small amuse of buffalo carpaccio with truffle oil on a potato crisp, served on a small frosted glass plate.
The two samples of Rodgers specialties that followed came on pottery plates. The first was a pair of enormous seared sea scallops with frilly frisee lettuce and champagne vinaigrette, basil slivers and papaya sabayon. The second appetizer sampler was pan-seated foie gras on a slice of baguette and grilled white pear surrounded by a pool of blackberry demi-glace. Rich ingredients and opulent contrasting flavors evoked silent sighs of gustatory pleasure.
Already full, I pleaded for a half-portion of the bouillabaisse entree. Even that was ample: two shrimp, four mussels, three hunks of lobster and one striped bass filet in a light, mild-flavored broth served in an enameled pot. My husband ordered beef filet in green peppercorn sauce (right). This is the sauce that usually accompanies the buffalo filet, but he prefers beef to bison. He also traded the mashed potatoes that he far prefers for the sweet potato pommes frites that usually come with this preparation. Alongside were some crisply steamed green beans, carrots and pearl onions. The beef was tender and flavorful, making that two fine entrees that evening.
Dessert was a new creation which might be called the Mirador Martini when it appears on the new menu. In a martini glass was an enticing “sundae” of raspberry puree, vanilla ice cream, reduced balsamic vinaigrette and Caramel Bailey’s. Cameron, who had taken such good care of us throughout our leisurely dinner, said that he had developed and that he anticipates that the open-minded and flexible Paul Rodgers will add it to the menu. Chef Paul himself told me that he cut is culinary teeth at the legendary Chillingsworth Restaurant on Cape Cod, where he was raised. All this bodes well for the chef-to-chef-to-chef transition at Mirador.