I can say it now - this year's New Year's Eve event was the smoothest ever that I can recall, since the first one we hosted 27 years ago. I really think it was. I starting having this thought at around 7:00 on Tuesday night, thinking "oh, wow, so far so good" and then saying to myself "Shut Up!!". At around 8 I went into the kitchen and Kevin started to say to me "oh wow, so far so good", and I said "Shut Up!". There was still plenty of time for plenty to go wrong. But it didn't!! We were so lucky. The kitchen crew - with the two new line cooks - were a fabulous machine, and the dining room crew - who were all experienced at the NYE system - were a machine in their own right. No serious glitches or hold ups, no incorrect orders or major screw-ups. It was simply awesome. And hopefully the food was good too!!
The hors d'oeuvres - or "amuse" if you will - consisted of (clockwise) a slice of turkey liver terrine on a crouton topped with cranberry relish, a pimento cheese stuffed dill pickle, and roasted cauliflower in a spicy dip. My favorite here was the pickle with the pimento cheese filling - why this combination was so good I don't know, but it sure struck my fancy.
One choice for appetizer was the manchego and house-cured prosciutto filled Medjool dates. One would think these would be delicious, and perhaps they were, but it wasn't until last night that Kevin discovered they hadn't been stuffed with nearly enough filling! (This is why the chef is supposed to taste things before they go out, not two days later!) He tried one last night and all he tasted was...date. The remainder of the dates rapidly got re-stuffed for Thursday night's offering, but I wonder if the New Year's Eve guests thought they were being tricked...I mean, where was that salty creamy stuffing they were promised, hmmm?
Second appetizer option was the gravlax - gin and juniper cured and served with a cucumber mustard cream salad. Nice presentation, I thought.
Two soups were offered - the sweet potato with sage sausage and brie...
...or mussel with saffron and leeks.
Between the soup course and the main, everyone was served a winter salad with frisee, Belgium endive and Granny Smith apples, tossed in a hazelnut vinaigrette.
There were seven Roseda New York Strips - a generous 16 ounce cut - that sold out to the first six guests that were offered them. Oh, and of course we saved one for my brother...
On the menu there were two choices for entree - the St. Brigid's Farm veal loin steak, garnished with jumbo spice rubbed shrimp and a blood orange sauce, or...
...crispy skinned Branzino with lobster and Jerusalem artichokes. The veal came with duck-fat roasted fingerling potatoes, the fish with rice balls. Just about every course was a very close split in ordering, which was terrific and unusual.
There were four choices for dessert. The cherries that have been "brandy-ing" in our basement since when, August?, were served as a sundae. They were delicious - not too sweet, so a perfect complement to the ice cream. And very adult. This was the only thing - besides the limited steak offering - that we ran out of.
The panforte was accompanied by a few little scoops of vanialla ice cream and some chocolate sauce. This dessert proved to be a little difficult to eat - it was almost too hard to eat with a fork and no one seemed comfortable picking it up and eating it like a confection...
The pumpkin cream roll seemed to be the favorite, with its gilding of caramel sauce. We also had our fruitcake, with a mound of hard sauce to spread all over it, but I never got a picture of it.
Robbie, working his first New Year's Eve service, did a fine job on his salad station. He was plenty busy - just about every course involved something from garde manger - and he held his own like a pro.
Everyone on the night crew did great - including Chef Kevin, flanked by Jay, Dashan and Robbie.
Out front we had Kaitlyn, Becca, Jenn, Ashley, Nicole (who ran trays - another really big job, with five courses at each table to keep track of) and Lisa. Charlie - bartender extraordinaire - had already left before I got a chance to include him in the group shot. It was a truly successful and pretty much fun night all across the board. Thanks to our crew! and thanks for our amazing customers.
Happy New Year to everyone!