Monday, May 21, 2007

Frisson of delight

I don't really belong amongst the super-trendy. I don't have the right sort of looks or sensibility to get all gussied up and lounge picturesquely at XYZ or Bambuddha Lounge. In fact if you can get me out of my jeans and into a matching top and skirt, consider it a miracle.

Either that, or I'm dining at the French Laundry.

So after one look at the website for Frisson, which self-describes as "a stylish blend of high design, fine cuisine and contemporary music," I was wary.

"Oh for heaven's sake, what am I supposed to wear??" I snarled, rifling through my closet. "Do I actually have to match a scarf to my blouse?"

I have a serious Dining Wardrobe impairment. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. All my nicest clothes don't stretch in the waist. And I'm not the type to go to any restaurant, trendy or not, and spend the evening nibbling on a single olive.

No, I'm happiest in jeans and a sweater, so that the bulge created by that roasted quail and seared foie gras is nicely covered. Plus I won't have to worry when I splooge Petite Syrah and tomato-curry emulsion all over myself --I'll just throw the whole thing in the washing machine.

I've now fully rummaged through my closet and decided finally that if I have to dress trendy, at least I'll take the largest of my fake-pashminette scarves with me, which I can maybe wrap around the bulge or use to cover up stains...

Frisson, as it turns out, is indeed trendy, but not so much so that I'm uncomfortable. In fact it was really quite cosy, and the food, I must admit, was surprisingly good.

In fact, my only real complaint is that light levels in Frisson are not only very low, but tend toward the Austin Powers bachelorium bedroom pinkity-pink palette. It gives all the food a sort of pepto-glow that made me a little uncertain if I should eat it at first.

If you're wondering if we had appetizers, indeed we did, but since I didn't want to spend the whole time fussing with the camera, it took me til the main courses to figure out how to even take a picture that wasn't grainy and black.

Pictured here, Ms. Art Attack's mushroom and eggplant ravioli in an exquisite tomato curry emulsion.

My Omnivore went for the American Kobe, which, as he says, is good, but still not Kobe Kobe. But heck, at least we live in a place where one can make such fine distinctions.

I was particularly fond, though, of my braised beef shank, which was spec-freaking-tacular. It had a dark dense sauce that said "Apple-Calvados" on the menu, but tasted like wonderful loamy earthy jus with a just a hint of apple in it.

As for dessert well...

Being the chocoholic, Ms. Art Attack couldn't resist the Venezuelan chocolate which comes with a napkin basketful of warm cinnamon-y madeleines. So fragrant they had to be fresh out of the oven.

I, of course, can never resist a cheese course, especially if it has something on it I don't know. So I had a slice of Lincoln Log which is modelled after Bucheron. It's made by John Loomis from Zingerman's as a foot-long, striated cylinder of goat cheese. It's not quite as savory as Bucheron (plus Frisson serves it a bit too cold for my taste-- have I mentioned that I like ooze?) , but the ripened edges were silky and the pate in the middle pleasantly tangy.

Surreptitiously, I loosen my waistband and cover it over by wrapping my scarf shawl-like around me.

"Bit cold in here, don't you think?"

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