Dia de los Puerco!
I wish I had known about this restaurant while I was a student in Cambridge as my exhausting two years at MIT Sloan might have been more pleasant (if that’s possible). O Ya is a Japanese-fusion restaurant located in the Leather District of Boston in between the Waterfront and Chinatown. After being dropped off by my cab at the correctly numbered building, I spent 15 minutes looking for the entrance. Needless to say the front door is inconspicuously hidden in the alley and made of large, reclaimed wood boards.
The humble entrance paints the picture perfectly for the quaint, casual dining room of a half-dozen tables (37 seats to be exact). The best seat in the house is at the sushi bar where you can watch the chefs work fast and meticulously to create their plates of edible art. With 22 courses available on the tasting menu, the three sushi chefs are constantly busy building towers of nigiri for hungry patrons (most of which order the tasting menu instead of wading through O Ya’s overly large list of a la carte items).
From foie gras nigiri to gold flake and caviar topped poached egg over dashi sauce, the procession of creatively produced and presented food was beyond my expectations. If you or your dinner date aren’t gastronomically adventurous, O Ya also offers more tame plates of wagyu beef, bone-in pork chop and shrimp tempura.
In terms of accolades it should come as no surprise to any O Ya diner that this establishment has recently received a top food rating of 29 out of 30 from Zagat and more importantly, a James Beard award for head chef Tim Cushman. And if you haven’t dined with them yet, be sure to make a reservation far enough in advance.
For round 2 of the Greenville Foodie Fest, I visited Devereaux’s. This restaurant is a Greenville institution and is quite often my home for happy hour. For once it was nice to sit and enjoy a meal in the dining room instead of telling my life story to the bartender. My fellow dining patrons had to endure that fate this evening.
A lovely surprise was the amuse bouche that was presented to us upon our seating. This little glass was filled with a potato and leek vichyssois goodness and topped with chives. It was the perfect beginning to a wonderful dinner.
Just like American Grocery, I was disappointed to learn that Devereaux’s was not offering a specific wine pairing with each of their courses. My table opted out of the wine pairings altogether and decided to pair our own courses. Thats the upside of dining with a bunch of winos!
The seared quail breast with marscapone risotto and shitake mushrooms quickly took my sadness away. It was a good sized portion and every bite was delightful. This is definitely a plate I wish they would add to their menu.
My main course was the salmon with grapefruit and soba noodles over bok choy. It was refreshingly light after my bowl of risotto and a nice compliment to our bottle of wine (which I didn’t write down and now can’t remember).
The highlight of my meal was the almond creme brulee. Even after my first serving being too soupy for my liking, they brought out a much more set serving of which I ate with enthusiasm.
Unlike American Grocery, after this meal, I wasn’t hungry. Actually, I wasn’t hungry for a couple days. I hope to return to Devereaux’s soon for another Winosseur-worthy meal.
My Greenville Foodie Fest 2011 experience started off at American Grocery. I’ve always heard good things about this restaurant, so the Foodie Fest deal (3 courses for $30) provided me a great opportunity to dig in.
The interior is typical for downtown Greenville restaurants, with a quaint bar and original distressed brick walls. Unique artwork from local artists line the walls.
Our table was wonderful with a full view of the passerby outside in the early evening. We were a bit cramped at a small two top, but it was to be expected during such an event that everyone wants to partake. Also visible in the above photo is my Hendrick’s and tonic that I waited patiently for at the bar. It took about ten minutes to get the bartender’s attention and get the drink made. Again, I expected this due to how busy their dining room was this evening.
The mussels with paprika cream were are delight after a rocky start to the evening. A big hunk of toasted bread was perfect for sopping up the leftover juices in the bowl. This was paired with a Schug Sauvignon Blanc that was offered as a part of the wine pairing menu. Much to my surprise the Foodie Fest menu only offered one wine for each course no matter which plate was chosen. I would have preferred having a specifically paired wine for each of my courses and a larger pour for that matter!
Marci, my dining companion, had the heirloom tomato salad with a basil glycee. Not only was it beautiful, but it was tasty as well.
My main course was a perfectly prepared duck breast with spicy lentils. I am sucker for lentils and they were cooked to perfection; something I have yet to master at home.
Both Marci and I got the Krispy Kreme bread pudding for dessert. It was hard not to since my eyes glanced over every other option and zeroed in on the one plate with the most calories. It was just as good as it sounds since it was drenched in a lightly flavored coffee cream. Even after all of this, both of us were still hungry when we left. This is a common complaint from diners at American Grocery and I would have to agree.
Overall the food was some of the best I have ever eaten, regardless of the portion size. Unfortunately, the wine offerings were nothing to write home about and the wine glasses were less than was expected from such a highly regarded restaurant. There is no substitute for a Riedel.
I will definitely be back during next year’s Foodie Fest, but probably not until then.
This past Wednesday, I attended another wonderful evening of food, drink and good times at the High Cotton, Greenville Peach Dinner. They held a similar event two years ago and because of customer urgings and a great peach season, they brought it back this year.
So that I didn’t have to attend another dinner event by myself I brought my parents along kicking and screaming (not really). Before we left the house I reached for my giant Nikon camera, both my mother and father gasped in horror. I guess everyone isn’t comfortable with the thought of their dinner date taking pictures of food. So please, enjoy my fantastic iPhone photos.
I try not to look at the menu before I sign up for pairing events so that it is a complete surprise upon arrival. Plus, many times the menu changes drastically before dinner because of the availability (or lack thereof) of some foods. After sitting down I was pleasantly surprised to see many of my favorites in the line up. If you must know, I’m a complete sucker for foie gras.
This is a completely awful picture of probably one of the best frog legs I’ve ever eaten. The batter was light and seasoned perfectly. It really does taste like chicken.
Not only was the crab with peach and ginger coulee an amazing amuse bouche, but the spoon it was served on was a piece of art. Unfortunately I didn’t capture the spoon with the bent handle in the picture.
One of the biggest downfalls of many beer and wine dinners is when the emcee/chef/sommelier interrupts dinner before each course to talk about the food and beverage about to be consumed. Kudos to Jason for only taking two opportunities to explain everything on the menu. It kept the dinner progressing quite nicely!
This was the second of three white wines of the evening, a Zaca Mesa Viognier. It was by far my least favorite Viognier of all time (that might be a little over dramatic). Both Tiger Mountain Georgia and Charlottesville, VA produce amazing Viognier wines, much better than this overly oaky and sour rendition. Though, as usual it didn’t prevent me from having a second glass.
I’m not a huge fan of grouper, but this may have changed my mind for the better. The gazpacho beneath it is made of white peaches and heirloom tomatoes. A healthy dose of cilantro set this whole dish off.
This overly sweet Riesling was the last of our white wine pairings (thankfully). By this time we were ready for change.
Oh. My. God. This was my favorite course of the night. The stuffed duck leg with carrot puree and anise spiked jus rescued the night after our overdose of sweet white wine. I would wrap myself in this duck and bathe in the anise jus, just to become one with this wonderfulness.
This was my second favorite course of the night most notably for the addition of pork belly. I could smell it coming from a mile away. Although the Madrona Springs “Rock Pile” Syrah was a little over-powering after the Riesling, it went perfectly with this plate of pig. The spicy jam and cheddar jack cheese rounded out the dish and even in my state of complete over-eating disgust, I could have had another serving.
A dish of ooey gooey peach cobbler deliciousness finished off the night, paired with a Buehler Vineyards Zinfandel. I’m being picky at this point, but I might have preferred a cup of coffee with this dessert or a much richer wine.
Overall, the dinner was a success and will keep me coming back for more. From what I hear, there is a Tomato dinner in the works for next month!