Saturday, March 26, 2016

Millwrights: a review in 2 parts

Millwrights is rated "the best restaurant in CT" and is within an hour's drive of us. We first went there in early September, and again last week.

The September visit was on a Friday night and the place was packed. Reservations definitely required! We went for the tasting menu + wine pairing (about $75 per person for the food and $45 per person for the wine; we split a single serving of wine.) The whole experience was almost 3 hours long, but so beautifully coordinated that it didn't feel like a drag. The food ranged from really good to amazing, and of course I took discreet notes...

1) Oyster on the half-shell, with some kind of flavored vinegar, and gougeres (little puffed buns) on the side

2) Crostini with marinated heirloom tomatoes over house-made ricotta

3) Fluke ceviche

4a) Cornbread with herb butter

4b) Tapioca pudding with the flavors of clam chowder

5) Seared scallops

6) Seared foie gras over toasted brown bread with plum sauce

7) Stuffed quail with thyme cream sauce and roast carrots

8) A pair of desserts that I neglected to write down, although I believe one was akin to a brownie and the other was some sort of pastry with fruit.

The March visit was mid-week. We had a reservation, but at 6pm only one other table was filled. By 8pm, when we left, it was well on the way to being full, but still wasn't packed. We also noticed that many of the other tables were having the tasting menu, just like us! We didn't do the wine pairing on this visit but did share a really good mixed drink (the Fig Ole Biddies) and then had cappuccino with dessert. The whole experience was a bit under 2 hours, probably because the place wasn't as crowded.

1) Oyster with ginger and pink peppercorn mignonette: I love raw oysters but this combo wasn't quite doing it for me. Probably my least favorite course of the evening. The gougeres that accompanied them were great!

2) Roasted heirloom carrot with farro, "farro milk", and mint yogurt sauce: this dish was a revelation. We nearly licked our plates in our efforts to get every last bit of flavor. Definitely one of my favorite courses. It's on the regular menu and I would certainly order this if I wasn't doing the tasting menu.

3) Scallop crudo with lemon oil and watercress: another revelation. DH doesn't even like seafood and he enjoyed this one. I adored it. Another favorite. It's not on their regular menu at the moment and I really hope it makes an appearance there; I would order this again.

4a) Cornbread (or sourdough bread, for me) with black sesame butter: fantastic! The butter had black sesame seeds, honey, and sea salt all worked into it.

4b) Tapioca pudding with all the flavors of clam chowder: we'd had this last time and thus knew what to expect. I thought it was delicious but lacked the charm of novelty this time.

5) Grilled foie gras over toasted brown bread with lightly pickled vegetables: I'm not a huge fan of foie gras but this was perfectly cooked. The vegetables were a nice contrast to the richness of the meat.

6) Duck breast with sunchokes, celery, peanuts, and a rice dumpling: I don't know how they got the duck that perfectly moist and tender, but it was amazing. The accompaniments sound odd, but they actually worked really well with the duck.

7) Grilled fish (I think it was swordfish, but I'm no longer certain... a thin filet with the skin on) with grilled fennel and parsnip puree. This was my second-least-favorite dish, because the fish seemed overcooked. The vegetables were great, as always.

8a) Blood orange sorbet: a lovely palette cleanser while they made our coffee.

8b) Hazelnut Bombe: a chocolate shell resting on a flourless chocolate cake, filled with hazelnut mousse. Absolutely amazing and another one of my favorites.

(I hated the cappuccino. The less said, the better.)

So would we go back? Absolutely! The food and the service were both top-notch. Reservations recommended at any time, and required for weekends.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Recipe Round Up

I'm only going to list the good ones here... no sense wasting space on some mediocre recipes and poorly executed baked goods.

Vegan Black Bean Soup from Smitten Kitchen: cheap, easy, delicious, and healthy. Will definitely make again.

Dry Fried String Beans No Wok from Serious Eats: easy and delicious (even though I couldn't find the Sichuan peppercorns). Will definitely make again.

Spiced Oat and Pear Blondies from Bon Appetit: a little crumbly, but easy and delicious. A remarkable number of my students wanted the recipe.

Szechuan Eggplant Stirfry from Food Network: first time I made it just as described and it was lovely. Second time I omitted the cornstarch and added some mushrooms and peppers - even better! Leftovers are also great cold or hot.

Wartime Sourdough Chocolate Cake from King Arthur Flour: very easy, yummy, and a great way to use up spare sourdough starter (you weigh the starter, then subtract half of that from the flour and half of that from the water in the recipe.) The cream-and-chocolate icing was rather gloppy and never fully solidified, but my kids viewed that as a feature rather than a bug.

So out of the twelve new recipes I've tried this year, these are the five I'll definitely be making again.