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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Amuse Bar & Restaurant (Philadelphia) - Fine Dining

I had the privilege of being invited to check out the new Fall menu for Amuse in Philadelphia.  What I thought would be just a few highlights ended up being a feast that left everyone involved raving about the food and wondering how we would ever be able to have another meal sitting that could compare.  We started with a simple grape that had been soaked in champagne and drizzled with an aged Balsamic.  Amazing flavors of the fruity grape popped with fizzy champagne effervescence exploding along the palate.  The sweet Balsamic rounded out the crisp fruit, and bubbly champagne with a richness that made for a nice start.

We were then treated to the 2010 award winning With Love Cocktail made with vodka, passion fruit syrup, ginger liquor, lime juice, champagne, with a raspberry floating atop.  T'was a very different and enticing beverage to enjoy before the appetizers and entrees started rolling out.  We were brought servings of the Tomato Mozzarella Salad, along with Pork Shank Ravioli to start.  The Mozzarella is house made and as fresh as fresh can be.  It explodes with creamy flavors and mild peppery spice.  The Balsamic and Basil Oil compliment the cheese and fresh Heirloom tomatoes wonderfully. 
The Pork Shank Ravioli were delicious.  They were flanked with porcini, and shiitake mushrooms with a spiral of house made pancetta in the center and drizzled with a Port reduction.  Savory, succulent, and mouth watering.  If you get these, have a nice chewy, mineral laden, and spicy red wine to go along with the rich, earthy flavors.  Wine for this?  no-brainer...Zinfandel.  Proper beer to go with this?  Easily, a Belgian Dark, or Abbey Dubbel.
Next up?  The Taylor Bay Scallops accompanied with Pappardelle (egg noodles), chorizo, corn, peas, and Nage ( a sauce, or broth with a stock base, and white wine, or champagne addition).  Very good, indeed.  The egg noodle gives the palate a bit more to ponder with the tender scallops tantalizing the taste buds.  Try this with a Chardonnay.  A Belgian Blonde, or Abbey Tripel would be the perfect beer accompaniment for these.

The house specialty, the Steak Frites were an immediate hit at the table.  This hanger steak is marinated for at least 24 hours in a rich, meat tenderizing liquid that is superb for mopping up with the cut pieces of tender steak.  Of course, this wouldn't be complete without the pommes frites, which were nicely crisped on the exterior and served with a trio of dips consisting of shallot-tarrogon pesto, bearnaise aioli, and the standard ketchup.  The wine of choice for this?  A simple, smooth Merlot.  The beer pairing?  Go with either a Rauchbier, or a Porter.  Perhaps even a Doppelbock would be a fine choice.
The Bone In Veal Chop in a peppered demi glace served with the Fat Cat Croquette, which is basically mashed potatoes with some cheese rolled in bread crumbs and fried...decadent!  The veal chop had a small layer of fat on the outer edge, whch protected all of the tender, juicy meat on the inside.  Combined with the demi, this made for another match for a full bodied Cabernet, or Bourdauex.  I could even pair this with a Pinot Noir, or a Petite Syrah.  The beer of choice would be an aged Barleywine, or a chewy Imperial Stout
The Herb Honey Crusted Chicken served with a slow cooked thigh emblazoned with a Tangerine Cream.  Very mild citrus notes of the cream sauce penetrate the honey skin of the juicy chicken.  This is a mild dish all around and would go good with a Pinot Grigio, or for the beer lover...a nice Witbier, or Saison.
The Ratatouille Pave was served in an all-vegan prepared style, though one would need to ask for it to be specially prepared that way.  It was simple, and flavorful with the tomatoes being the standout amongst the variety of vegetal flavors.  Pick something that won't overwhelm this light dish.  Wine?  A Sauvignon Blanc would get the job done.  A Pilsner, or Maibock would be nice choices for the beer.
My personal favorite was the Bouillabaisse loaded with chunks of lobster, mussels, and shrimp.  This was one of the most memorable Bouillabaisses that I've had in the past several years.  I was searching for that warm French bread that was floating around the table to soak up all of the goodness contained in the broth.  Bravo, Chef Black!  Stick with a Sauv Blanc for the Bouillabaisse.  The beer can be switched up to a nice, balanced Pale Ale with a mild bite and a strong caramel, & biscuit base.

Last but not least, we cannot forget about the desserts that were the nice ending to the bountiful feast that we were bestowed upon.  Apple Tarte Tatin à la mode, Chocolate Pots du Creme, and Mille Feuille Classique were exceptional...even though eating these treats with the "spork" was mildly odd.  :)  Individually, these could be paired with a number of digestif beverages offered on the menu from coffees, Ports, Scotch, Brandy, and Cognac.  As your local beer guide though, it's my duty to assign a beer.  Too easy!  For the Apple Tarte Tatin à la mode, a Bourbon Scotch Ale like Founders Backwoods Bastard, or Bourbon Triple such as Allagash Curieux would be sure fire winners that will draw out the sweet cooked, caramelized apple flavors and meld with the vanillins of  bourbon barrel.  The Pots du Creme would go great with virtually any stout but probably best with either a Milk Stout, ala Lancaster Milk Stout (draft version, please), or a Belgian Chocolate infused Imperial Stout, Southern Tier Choklat.  The Mille Feuille Classiqueala could go well with Sierra Nevada Tumbler, or a Dark Mild like Yards Brawler.
Amuse's website

be sure to check out Amuse's Winter Cocktails available until the New Year.

The Snowball: For those who love all that sparkles, this cocktail is made with Finlandia Grapfruit, Cointreau, and Champagne. Served in a sugar rimmed martini glass, it is sure to tickle your senses.
The Monte Rosa: Named for the tallest peak in Switzerland, this aromatic hot toddie will warm you from the inside when winter winds start to bite. Brandy and Malbec wine mingle in a warm snifter, garnished with sliced apple.

The Mistletoe Martini: It may not guarantee a Christmas kiss, but it is perhaps the perfect substitute. Real cocktail lovers will enjoy the clean flavors of Tub gin, pomegranate juice, muddled cucumber and a splash of champagne almost more than kisses on New Year’s Eve.

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