Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tristan, 10 Linguard St. Charleston, SC


     Opting for a four course Chef's Tasting menu, my next stop during Restaurant Week was at Tristan Restaurant, on the ground floor of the French Quarter Inn.   Featuring complimentary valet parking, a lovely dining room and bar and a team of wait staff for each table, Tristan lives up to its AAA 4 Diamond designation.
     We began in the bar, where a most accommodating bartender made me a special "mocktail".  My dining partner enjoyed a Westbrook White Thai, a Whitbier style beer, made in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Our table was ready promptly at our reservation time and we were seated in their ultra-modern, softly lit dining room.    The wait staff team began by offering us a variety of water choices, with an option of lemon or lime.  The next team member brought us our choice of a sour dough roll, sprinkled with sea salt or a generously sized piece of olive focaccia bread- the roll was soft and warm, with a crunch of sea salt in each bite.  The focaccia was light and moist, topped with black olives.
     Next, we were treated to an amuse bouche, which is loosely translated from the French as "entertainment for your mouth".  The Blood Orange Curd we were served was so pleasantly and intensely flavorful that it truly was a party for your mouth!
     Our waitress, Hannah, was efficient, knowledgable and, above all,  fun.  She deftly served and quickly whisked away each course, refreshing all utensils each time.  The first course she served was Beer Glazed Shrimp.  The shrimp, glazed with Westbrook White Thai butter, was accompanied by tender pretzel gnocchi, crisp haricot verts and a garnish of heirloom greens.  The wine pairing was a Hook & Ladder White from the Russian River Valley.  (My dining partner opted for the wine pairings with each course.  Each was perfectly matched to the flavors in the dish.)
     The second course was Eggless-Eggplant Parmesan Flan.  This smooth and creamy flan had a distinctly smoky aroma, matched as it was with the Benton's bacon broth.  Toasted pine nuts topped the dish, which was accented by a thick, tangy dash of San Marzano tomato jam.  The wine pairing was a Simple Life Pinot Noir, from  California.
     A palate cleansing was in order, after all of the intense flavors experienced so far.  Consequently, we were treated to an intermezzo of grapefruit and tarragon sorbet.  The grapefruit taste was bright and light, the tarragon appropriately understated.
     All of the portions were sized to please but not fill, so we were able to enjoy each offering without being overly full.  That said, we were ready for our third and main course, the Braised Beef Pave.  This rectangle of tender, shredded beef sat on a bed of crushed redskin potatoes and butter braised cabbage (delicate in flavor and a perfect compliment to the Tea & Cider Jus on the beef).  The topper  to the dish was a perfectly prepared vidalia onion slice that melted in your mouth.  The flavors of each component of this dish were so well matched that every bite carried with it the aromas and taste sensations of Autumn.  The wine pairing was something new to us, a Malbec from Argentina.  I highly recommend choosing the wine pairings at Tristan when offered, as they enhance the flavors of each dish so well.
     The dessert course was another example of how high Tristan chefs set the culinary bar.  We were served a "deconstructed" Apple Strudel.  Arranged on the plate were three thin pieces of puff pastry, alternating with cooked apple slices, both with a gentle cinnamon/sugar flavor.  Dots of golden raisin puree and milk jam surrounded this apple gem, which was also accompanied by toasted oatmeal gelato on a tiny, crispy oatmeal cookie.  By dipping the spoon into each component, you were able to  taste a most amazing strudel which dissolved like apple magic in your mouth.  The dessert wine was a lovely, slightly sweet California Muscato.
     In conclusion, meals at Tristan are Perfection on a Plate

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