I've been to Michael Mina before, but it was a long time ago, so I was thrilled when a friend decided to treat everyone in our little group to dinner there last night. They have a vegetarian menu always at the ready, but they will happily create a vegan tasting menu with advance notice. Even better is that it is 6 courses of goodness and the wine pairings are brilliant. Not only that but their unflappable service and creativity in the kitchen know no limits. Take a look:
First up was an amuse bouche of curried carrots and lentils. Honestly, it was one of my favorite bites of the evening, and definitely lived up to the "amuse" part of its name. Those little balls of carrot danced on my tongue. A very nice opener. Next was the caramelized fig salad. I worship figs and was seriously looking forward to this dish, but in the end I found the crazy amount of herbage to overpower, rather than balance, the sweet figs. The parsley, in particular, was way over the top. Oh well.
My less than stellar figs were soon forgotten when I got to eat my chanterelle mushroom soup. This was salty, smooth, and downright sublime. It may very well be the best soup I have ever eaten in a restaurant. Yum. Next up was a beautiful dish of sunchokes, sorrel, and (oh hells yes) truffle. My only complaint here was that there wasn't more of it.
The fourth course was my favorite dish of the evening; Crispy hen-of-the-woods mushrooms with shaved celery, farro, and frisse. The savory, earthy mushrooms and farro were slightly crispy and warm and the complimentary cool and slightly bitter salad on top created a complete dish with a big impact on the palate. High brow comfort food at its finest. This dish was followed by a main course which fell just short of my expectations. The light tomato sauce on this pasta was delightful and the beans and veggies perfectly seasoned. However, the orecchiette itself was chewy and distracted from the overall experience of the dish.
And still we went out with a bang. This lemon cake with roasted strawberries, pistachio puree, and strawberry sorbet was so wonderful and proved that even light foods can have serious depth of flavor. That puree, for example, was like pistachio concertrate, and the slight bitterness it provided was the perfect partner for the sweetness of the strawberries and cake. Just a wonderful way to end the meal. In addition, I have no recollection of the dessert wine specifics but it was my favorite beverage of the evening... and pretty, no?
All in all, a fantastic meal. I will say that the veg-heads at the table ended up with substantially less food than the omnivores and, since we didn't get any less wine, this made us a little tipsy. Still, the portions were sating and delicious. I've got no complaints and would definitely go again. Thanks, MM, for a great night!