Sunday, July 01, 2012

Bar Dining @ Parallel 37

Friday night and we were approaching the final two days of being able to get some foie.  We'd just had 7 courses the night before at Michael Mina.  And 7 courses two nights before at The Fifth Floor.  And we were planning another 9 courses for the next night at Alexander's.  But ... we only had two days left!  We clearly needed to still get some foie.

However, we have restraint.  Rather than going all out and doing another multi-course foie dinner, we decided to settle on going to get a seared and a cold preparation, in a casual setting, and make an easy night of it.  Although we had never been before, we picked Parallel 37, as I'd heard really amazing reviews of their seared preparation in particular, and they serve it in the bar area.

Parallel 37 is fairly new, a re-vamp of the Dining Room At the Ritz.  I last visited several years ago when it was the Dining Room, and I remember feeling like the decor was fairly stuffy.  The new space was gorgeous, modern.  There is a ton of lounge and bar space, with a variety of seating options including communal tables, couches, and classic bar seating.

We easily got a spot at the bar, and eagerly opened the menus.  My heart just about stopped when I didn't see the seared foie gras listed.  Hoping that they just didn't list it, I asked about it.  The server delivered some very bad news: they were no longer offering it.  The chef sourced from Sonoma Foie Gras and his stock ran out, and he didn't want to serve anything that had been frozen.  I'm glad they didn't want to sell an inferior product but ... this was the dish we were there for!  This was our pick for our last foie!  I was heartbroken.

They did still have a chilled foie on the menu, so we ordered that instead.  And then, after such disappointment, we decided that the only solution was to head to the one place we knew would always deliver a good seared foie gras, Alexander's Steakhouse (see my next post for that review).
Chilled foie gras, hibiscus gelee, arugula salad, toasted brioche.  $19.
The first thing I noticed upon receiving the dish is that the foie was indeed very chilled.  Almost too cold, as it was hard to spread on the bread.

The bread was a toasted brioche that was served lukewarm.  It didn't have any particular flavor to it, nor was it buttered or oiled enough.  As the foie was so cold, it stood no chance in melting into this bread, which you may recall I identified as being one of my favorite parts of a successful cold preparation.  This part of the dish was very disappointing.

The foie however was a great consistency, incredibly, incredibly creamy.  It was nicely salted and had a good strong foie flavor.

The hibiscus gelee layer on top didn't taste like much, I wanted it to be sweeter to pair with the foie and bring out some more interesting flavors.

The arugula salad was clearly fresh, baby greens.  Dressed with a little oil and a good salt level.  We have had a bunch of salads with shaved torchon on them lately, so given my disappointment with the bread, I tried making up some bites with the greens and the foie in a similar style, but I found the greens to be too bitter and overwhelming for the foie.  The salad just didn't really seem to go with the dish.  There were 3 chunks of blackberry in it however, that did pair very, very nicely with the foie.

Overall, the foie in this dish was good, but the rest of it just didn't come together for me.  It left me desperately wanting to return to Baker & Banker for their cold version, where the bread was delicious, hot, grilled, and the foie just melted into it like butter.  So good.  I really wish I'd gotten a chance to try Parallel 37's famous seared preparation instead.  $19 seemed a little high, but fairly in range for a dish of this size.
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