Sunday, January 2, 2011

An Evening at Devereaux's

It was a cold and windy night and high time to reconnect with the man who is the father of my children. The children were left with the sitter, I donned a little black dress and sexy heels, he came out smelling like the guy on the commercial, and off we went.
Our first stop was at the theater to see the new Narnia movie, a fun addition to the Narnia saga by C.S.Lewis. I am going to put those books back on my "to read" list so I can recall the author's intent.
A friend who had previously dined at Devereaux's recommended the restaurant to us for an incredible night out. Not being one to turn down a culinary adventure, we made reservations and the rest is history. I had actually been in the restaurant earlier in the week with a fellow student on another culinary adventure. John Nolan of the Greenville History Tours hosted a culinary tour of the Table 301 restaurants. I would highly recommend this tour for those wanting to get a closer view of some of the culinary minds that are making Greenville's dining scene what it is.
The nearly impeccable service and hospitality were a welcome change from the everyday rush outside their doors. We had the choice between an a la carte menu, a 5-course chef tasting menu, or a 10-course chef tasting menu. You could also choose to add a wine flight to your dinner. We decided we were in an adventurous mood and chose the 10-course menu, splitting a wine flight to get the full experience without having to take a cab home. While you could spend an entire blue collar paycheck on dinner, there are several other options, including a very reasonable menu at the bar.
Our waiter, Joe, was a veritable fountain of information. His knowledge of everything from the food to the wines to the glasses the wine was served in was amazing. He was very patient and helpful throughout the entire meal.
Before our meal even started, a complimentary amuse-bouche was brought to our table to tease the palate. It was a tuna tartare with soba noodles and microgreens. It was one of my top two favorite things of the evening, as well as a first for me as I had never before had tuna tartare. It does make a difference when they use top-of-the-line sushi grade fish.
COURSE 1: Beet salad with pickled radish, toasted almonds, and a white truffle viniagrette. It was beautifully presented on a long narrow plate, each of the four different colored beets standing on its own. This course was served with an unoaked Chardonnay and a Pinot Grigio to choose from. We both preferred the Chardonnay.
COURSE 2: Continuing with the Chardonnay, we were served a tuna sashimi over rice with asian petite greens,razor thin slices of radish, roasted cashews, avacado puree and a spicy viniagrette. Kudos to Chef Spencer for not making his spicy things so spicy that it set my hair on fire. The spicy elements were the perfect blend and complement to the dishes they were a part of.
COURSE 3: More is not always better, as we learned when one perfectly seared sea scallop offered itself on a bed of ale-braised fingerling potatoes with roasted red peppers and white miso sauce. Joel seemed to think that the perfect meal would be a dozen or so. Our wine pairing for this course was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
COURSE 4: A petite piece of flounder arrived on a bed of rice pilaf with spinach and mushrooms. Resting on top of the flounder was a quenelle-shaped salad of lobster and avacado. But the best part, and in my opinion the best dish of the evening, was the lobster bisque that finished the dish. My perfect meal would be a bowl of the lobster bisque with the delicious, earthy goodness of the spinach and mushroom pilaf crumbled into it. Thank you to Chef Spencer-again-for taking something I was not aware of and turning it into a culinary destination I want to come back to over and over again. For our wine, we stayed in New Zealand with a Pinot Noir.
COURSE 5: I have found it! The Holy Grail of perfect, crispy poultry skin, and it belonged to a beautiful little bite of quail confit breast sitting atop a delicious bed of Parmigianno-Reggiano risotto with concassed tomatoes. Now I know what we are truly striving for when Chef Mark, (my Food Production professor at Greenville Tech.), is trying to get through to us when he urges us to make it perfect and right. The quail was paired with an Italian Chianti.
COURSE 6: An off-dry German Reisling was put before us to be enjoyed with foie gras over an almond scone, bananas, and a vanilla coconut broth enhanced with tamarind syrup. May I say to my readers that you should never be afraid to try foie gras, but be advised not to eat it alone. The other ingredients are there for a balance to the richness of the dish.
COURSE 7: A strong Australian Shiraz led a homemade pasta dish they call an "open ravioli" that surrounded sliced veal loin. The offering was garnished with roasted red peppers, pine nuts, and a madeira jus that packed a whole lotta yum.
COURSE 8: To begin winding our adventure down, we were served a simple cheese board with farm fresh cow's milk cheese, a homemade apple butter and crackers. Lovely flavors to mix and enjoy as we slowed down. The Australian Shiraz from the last course took us through to the end of the chef tasting experience.
COURSE 9: A palate-cleansing, mouth-puckering, profound lime sorbet prepared us for the dessert course.
COURSE 10: A chocolate funnel cake, laced with a spice reminiscent of nutmeg or pumpkin pie, was served with homemade vanilla ice cream over a round of nut crumb, similar in texture to a soft brittle. The surprise on the plate was an orange honey that just made the dish for me.
The perfect midnight snack? The aforementioned almond scone drizzled generously with that beautiful orange honey.
When it was time to take our leave and pay the bill, somewhere between the kitchen and the table a wonderful thing happened. When we opened the server's book, out fell an envelope, and in the envelope was a Christmas card wishing us a warm holiday season, but no bill. Do angels work miracles at Devereaux's? Does Santa Clause really exist? Should I throw more pennies and make more wishes when I pass a fountain? Yes, there is a Santa Clause. I know her name, but I'm not telling!
Altogether, it was an experience I would recommend that everyone try at least once. The great thing about the chef tasting menus is that it frequently changes, so that every time you go a whole new culinary adventure awaits.

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