It's been a few days since my amazing birthday meal at Ubuntu, and I think I'm finally done digesting and ready to write about it. I went in a bit wary, what with their new chef and all, but I left so elated I could have walked on air... if I hadn't been so weighted down with yummy food, that is! So, the details: I called up and made a reservation for my friends and I to celebrate my birthday. They explained that because of our group's size, we'd be served family style. Fine by me, I said, but because I'm vegan I asked that no dairy-laden dishes even be considered for the menu. I mean, it was my birthday. My friends could handle a lack of animal puss for one meal, right? Right. And so we began our 9 course journey. I'll try to be brief so this post doesn't ramble on forever, but there was a lot of food!
The infamous lavender sugar olives and calvestrano olives hit the table first. They are, as they've always been, insanely good. Addicting even. Come to think of it, I should have stopped by Ubuntu's shop next to the restaurant to pick up some of those almonds before I left town.... Oh well.
Up next were some delightfully crunchy battered and fried fava beans with a light and airy fava foam for dipping. The word genius comes to mind. So fun to look at and to eat.
Third course was a green goddess salad. Doesn't look like much, I know, but beneath the lettuce was an avocado mousse to die for. Trust me, guacamole's got nothing on this stuff. A few leaves of lettuce dunked in that goodness is happiness-inducing.
The pea and blackened strawberry dish above may well have been the highlight of the meal for me. The peas were perfection, both whole and in the sauce, and the edible flowers and pistachios added wonderful bright and savory notes, but the grilled strawberries? A revelation. I could have eaten nothing but this dish all night and been quite ok with it. Great mouth feel, amazing flavor... this dish had it all. But what came next didn't suck either!...
Look how pretty those beets are! This gorgeous plate was also quite tasty with its numerous beet offerings, microgreens, avocado slivers, and mounds of quinoa. Good looking and personality too. A win win. :)The last of our cold offerings, this salad on flatbread was awesome. Very flavorful, fresh, and full of fennel! (I heart fennel.) It was also the saltiest of the dishes so far, which I always appreciate, and it prepared the palate nicely for the hot courses to come. I should also mention that at this point in the meal, we all got fresh plates of olives, bread, and olive oil. Love you, Ubuntu.
The first hot course was homemade pasta with cilantro and red dragon carrots in a sauerkraut broth. I know it sounds weird, but it totally works. It was a nice light counterpoint to the heavier second dish:
So, remember the chickpea fries and romesco that I loved at the old Ubuntu? Well, they're back.... only now they've been deconstructed and upgraded to entree status! Here we have chickpeas, some fried and some not, bathing in a sea of the finest romesco you ever did taste. This is soul-satisfying comfort food. A savory, hearty, and lip-smacking way to end our meal. But, of course, it's not a birthday without dessert!
I never use this, but seriously, OMG. My terrible picture (we were many bottles of wine deep at this point, btw) does this dish no justice. What you're looking at is coconut rice pudding with the freshest most amazing berry sauce on the planet. My tongue had never been so happy, and I'm not even a fruity dessert person. It was hot and cold and sweet as all get out and I loved every bite of it.
Phew! What a meal. Seriously, Ubuntu, you rock. Thank you for an amazing birthday celebration. And to all of you Bay Area folk who haven't been yet - GO!
Up next, a new neighborhood find. I'm also headed to my fave restaurant in SF on Sunday, and you can expect a full report. Stay tuned and eat well!