after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Dinner #4 and Wine #5: American Son and 2014 Ayoub (Brittan Vineyard)

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t says: I miss BYO’s. There was a time, back in the day when we lived in Philadelphia, that we loved frequenting amazing BYO’s. Mercato, Melograno, Sotto, Bibou, Fond, Modo Mio, Django (reaching WAY far back!). When we landed in SF, we were forced to realize that BYOs are not the norm at all. Actually, the corkage at some places was purposefully prohibitive (e.g. $50). Now that we’re in a new town, I had to investigate: how much is corkage? It’s actually a question that doesn’t seem to get much traction in DC. It’s not advertised anywhere. None of my dining friends knows. It’s apparently not something that anyone thinks about?

Well … I ask the hard questions: “How much is corkage at your restaurant?” And when American Son said “$25”, I was like “Oh! That’s it?”. Lady must have thought I was crazy. So we had our next dinner date ready to go!

Party of 2, Weekend, February 2020. After reading about American Son, we were pretty excited. The story is just so cute and cuddly, how could we not fall in love? Just look at the letter that’s on every menu:

Does your heart not just melt?

So we were excited for the food that followed:

We started off with some “obvious” favorites. You know – the kind that any good restaurant would have on the menu. The Brussels sprouts in the foreground were perfectly cooked (i.e. probably deep fried to crisp deliciousness), and accompanied with an assortment of togarashi sauce, “everything bagel” seasoning, and “leafy green things” that rounded out the profile with a bit of tang, a bit of nuttiness, and some fresh green. A no-brainer of a dish (i.e. there’s no way that this composition could be bad!) that really delivered!
In the background is their take on ricotta on a zatar cracker. Our criticism: give us more ricotta! Let us taste the cheese! The rest of the seasoning and accompaniment were good enough, but give us the cheese, damnit!
The seared sea scallops (background) with fennel and leaks were expertly prepared. Absolutely no qualms with execution there. Meanwhile the rabbit rigatoni in the foreground did not disappoint, with its walnut gremolata – an interesting combination that brought some earthy tones. Two very nicely done dishes that deserve applause for being able to hit several flavors at once that marry well.
And finally, you see our dessert and our wine for the evening. The dessert was probably the best take I’ve had on a S’more since the deconstructed s’more dessert of the Philly Talula’s Garden days. The scorching of the marshmallow was key. Meanwhile the Ayoub … I need a separate paragraph for Ayoub …

So what can I tell you about the wine? First off, Ayoub wines have always been amazing for us. Mo (the owner) just can’t make a bad pinot. He can make unusual pinots on occasion, but in general, they follow a pretty similar pattern: very tight and borderline abrasive in the first couple years after release, then they settle a little bit and give you what I can only describe as an Oregon Pinot at 11. But don’t think of it as over-extracted southern California pinot – no. This is still cool weather Oregon – it’s just that the flavors are all throttled WAY up, with bright red cherries and a hit of blackberry and licorice. This is followed by a burst of tongue-watering acidity and that Oregon dirt on a finish that lasts for seconds. The 2014 Ayoub Brittan Vineyard that we drank above still has plenty of life, for sure. I may have to rejoin his list because I just can’t find his wines in stores!

So back to the restaurant. Did we like it? Yes. It was a delicious meal, for sure. The service was courteous. I will say, however, that we wished for a little more soul. Go back and read that letter. That warmth and honesty should permeate the place. The ambience should be intimate and warm, not stark, chic, and full of windows. The food was indeed delicious, but perhaps in a way that was “safe”. I am hopeful for a little more. Make me feel the warmth of that letter. The food clearly shows a very good, talented chef – one that can combine flavors and appeal to a broad audience; but I’m just hoping that next time I’ll get to feel what it means to be the “American Son”.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

5 March 2020 at 11:15am

Posted in Happenings

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