2011 ella blvd @ e. tc jester
what's new at rainbow lodge? a WHOLE LOT. chef randy rucker of former laidback manor and tenacity supper club has taken over the kitchen and the food has gotten a lot more... well, "rucker-esque." i wasn't really sure what to expect from lunch today - i have to admit that i wasn't the biggest rainbow lodge fan previously. but we were in good hands, randy's hands. as soon as the amuse arrived, a big smile creeped across my face.
|amuse bouche from Rainbow Lodge|
the amuse was a small bite of poached shrimp with cocktail sauce gelée and tangerine leaves. the presentation was clean and whimsical.
|marinated raw scallops from Rainbow Lodge|
our first course were sliced raw scallops marinated in miso, white soy, and sesame oil. it was served w/ a creamy miso vinaigrette, thai chilis, fresh dill and shaved radish. the inherent creaminess of raw scallops was accenuated by the crisp radish chips. the marinade was flavorful and benefited from the nuttiness of the sesame oil. the miso vinaigrette should be sold by the gallon. i would buy some, take it home and dip everything in it. the dill and chilis added a fresh, vibrant touch.
|foie gras torchon on brioche w/ candied bacon from Rainbow Lodge|
we were lucky to lunch on this particular day as the kitchen had foie gras torchon already prepared for the new years eve tasting menu. the foie gras from labelle farm had been cured in armagnac and sous vided. it was served on a piece of smoked brioche with candied bacon and blis maple syrup. tat soi flowers, rutabaga tops, and fleur de sel crowned the torchon. bacon and foie on one plate makes happy palates. and it did indeed.
|rabbit & apple cider velouté from Rainbow Lodge|
a bowl with a rabbit rillette and romanesco, a broccoli/cauliflower hybrid was set in front of me. then a rabbit and apple cider velouté was poured into the bowl. this was one of my favorite courses as it was so unexpected. a velouté is one of the four mother sauces of french cuisine. the sauce is essentially made from a stock (in this case a rabbit stock) and a blonde roux made from equal parts butter and flour. the sauce is so silky the word comes from the french word for velvet, velour. randy cuts the sauce with acidity from apple cider vinegar and the end product is magnificent: slightly sweet, rich, and creamy. the rabbit rillette was equally velvety and offered something more substantial to each spoonful. the romanesco was visually stunning and just barely steamed to add yet another textural experience into play.
|berkshire pork belly w/cauliflower mushrooms from Rainbow Lodge|
our fourth course was berkshire pork belly sousvided for 48 hours and then flash fried prior to serving. it was accompanied by cauliflower mushrooms (sparassis), leeks, and blackeyed peas in an orange blossom vinegar. nasturtium greens from randy's garden topped the plate and have a distinct peppery flavor. the blackeyed peas seemed to add some starchy creaminess to the plate and was a welcome reminder of the new year.
|grilled tuna and fingerling potatoes from Rainbow Lodge|
the fifth course was seared tuna with fingerling potatoes in a red wine bordelaise with sprinklings of fleur de sel and tangerine leaves - both very noticeable. the tuna was cooked perfectly. the fresh citrus notes from the tangerine leaves made this otherwise good dish something very special.
|venison loin rubbed with cinnamon and "christmas spices" from Rainbow Lodge|
our sixth and last savory course was venison loin seasoned with cinnamon and christmas spices. it was served with black kale, sunburst squash, and purple carrots in venison jus. the venison was not gamey at all but i would have preferred it cooked to a prettier rare. i also didn't really "get" the choice of seasonings although i appreciated the humor in incorporating some x'mas spirit on the table.
|liquid pumpkin pie from Rainbow Lodge|
liquid pumpkin pie was served warm in brandy snifters. it was rich in flavor but not in cream and we remarked how good it would be with the addition of rum for a great holiday drink. i love pumpkin pie and i loved this.
|chocolate ganache from Rainbow Lodge|
our last course was chocolate ganache with pistachios and wood sorrel. it was decadent and smooth on the tongue and a satisfying end to a long luxurious lunch.
i admit that i had some doubts about the relationship between randy and the owners at rainbow lodge: i was skeptical the business would not give randy the creative freedom to offer the kind of food he is blessed to be able to create. i'm happy to report that my concerns are no longer. randy will be rolling out a his new menu on january 6th.
and...if you don't have plans for dinner tomorrow night, it may not be too late to book a reservation at rainbow lodge and take advantage of their new years eve tasting menu. for details, go to randy's blog.