That’s not right, is it? The foods of Easter are homey ham and scalloped potatoes and cheap chocolate. Good Friday is fish. Restaurants are not full to bursting for Easter; in fact, some close for the holiday.
So I’m not sure how we came to mark the start of Easter weekend by going out to not one but two of the area’s finest restaurants. It was as spur of the moment as can be for places that require reservations.
First up, Thursday night before the long weekend, was Verses. We just… Hadn’t been there in a while. We’d hoped to have one final crack at their fine fall / winter menu, but we were just too late for that. Upside was: First crack at their fine spring / summer menu.
The place was fairly quiet this Thursday night, and being there just felt nice. As restorative as a visit to the spa.
A lovely place to be after a busy work week
We were hungry, and it was a bit difficult deciding what to choose on the new menu, most of which sounded delicious. Jean made it easy on himself appetizer-wise by going for his standby foie gras, this time served with “saffron, vanilla waffle, slow poached orange supremes, and Vin Cotto”.
Le foie gras
And I suppose I also went for the somewhat habitual: They usually have some kind of seafood trio as an appetizer, which I usually can’t resist. This time it was scallops:
Sake Kombu cured on arame salad in toasted sesame rice wine vinaigrette
Ceviche, layered with pico de gallo and avocado croutons
Fennel wrapped pan seared on champagne vinegar dressed fennel fronds
Why have scallops one way when you can have them three ways?
Jean favored the tart ceviche style; I thought it was hard to beat the traditional pan seared, but we both agreed the avocado croutons were just the coolest!
We had a heck of a time selecting our wine, partly because I somehow wanted white despite have selected duck as my main course. But we finally settled on a very lovely French Gewurtz. It arrived just after our appetizers, which may be a first (for this restaurant)! (And by after I mean, like, 30 seconds after.)
Andrew suggested this wine
It certainly suited Jean’s main course of three kinds of seafood: tempura shrimp with aioli, grilled octopus salad, and crab and lobster cannelloni with mushrooms and broccoli.
Why have one kind of seafood when you can have four?
The octopus salad had a pleasant smoky taste and very nice texture. The cannelloni were rich and delicious. But perhaps the best were the crispy shrimp, which did not suffer the fate that large shrimp often seem to, of ending up kind of tasteless.
My main was seared duck breast served with a mole sauce. The duck was perfectly prepared, and I loved the chocolate spiciness of the mole, served in its own mound. The dish was called Duck Duck Goose, and the goose was in the form of a quesadilla, which was crispy and rich. The sides were “dirty” rice—wild rice with black beans—and a Brussels sprout slaw.
We resolved to share a dessert, a plan that was complicated a bit when we didn’t agree on which one. Finally Jean just agreed to go with my choice, the maple mousse.
Of course, this wasn’t just maple mousse in a little dish. It was served in delicious dark chocolate, and accented with a fleur de sel tuile and caramel “dust” that tasted rather like the inside of those Crunchie bars. Everything was quite exquisite.
The Friday outing came about because Langdon Hall somehow put me back on their email list, though I haven’t been there in years. And the email mentioned they were doing an oyster and wine tasting on Good Friday, in Wilk’s Bar. Wilk’s Bar is the somewhat less formal, and somewhat less expensive, dining area at this luxury hotel. We didn’t have any particular plans for the holiday Friday, and most things were closed, so trying that out seemed like a nice afternoon outing.
We didn’t want to have another full three-course meal, but we figured that three oysters likely wouldn’t be enough to sustain us til dinner, either. So we each went with another appetizer. I ordered the squash soup with morels, duck confit, and foie gras. Jean ordered the terrine. We received the 2 oz servings of the white wines that were to suit the three oysters to come: a very dry Chablis, a good sparkling Reisling from Tawse winery, and a delicious oaky Chardonnay.
Why have just one kind of wine when you can have three?
And then we waited. The warm bread basket served with butter made in-house topped with sea salt helped, but it still seemed a long wait for just soup and paté.
When the food did arrive, it came with apologies for the delay; clearly something had gone awry. And they were forgiven when we tasted everything. Hmm. Some of the best examples of squash soup and terrine ever.
Yay! The food is here!
The rest of the meal proceeded at the expected pace. The three kinds of oysters—raw, crispy, and baked—were each just amazingly delicious, and it was fun to have a matching wine for each.
Oyster trio. (It’s high time I drop the “why have one” “joke”)
And we again indulged in dessert: One each this time! Jean had the so-called “ice cream sandwich” while I went with cranberry fritters and “hot chocolate”, which turned out to be warm chocolate mousse. And yes, I dipped the fritters.
Walnut ice cream and daquoise
The least pleasant part of these types of meals—paying the bill—wasn’t quite as bad this day. They gave us the desserts on the house to compensate for the delay in serving our appetizers.
On Saturday, we gathered with extended family. Interestingly, that was also more of gourmet Easter dinner than one might expect: baked lamb, two kinds of potatoes (neither scalloped, exactly), French green beans, asparagus and mushrooms. And fancy chocolate mousse pastries for dessert, along with fruit salad.
The food was delicious. And the company was even better.