Monday, December 21, 2009

Ladies' Holiday Dinner: The Tradition Continues

One of my favorite of all holiday traditions began about 3 years ago, I think at the suggestion of my friend Emily. She suggested that instead of gift giving, a small group of the ladies should take ourselves out for a really nice dinner. Year one, we went to Louis Fuller on the West Side. Year two, it was New Rivers, downtown. This year, the ladies descended upon Gracie's on Washington Street.

One of my favorite parts of the fine dining experience is taking it slow, enjoying the company of the people you're with, and lingering for a while in a comfortable chair in a beautiful setting. Gracie's is expert at providing just this type of service. And even better news, they've updated their menu to include a "$30" prix fix menu, as well as 5 and 7 course tasting menus. I've put quotes around $30 because the number is more of a starting point than a hard and fast cost. The prix fix menu includes 3 courses: a starter, a main course and a dessert. Some of these items have an upcharge that gets added to the $30. I'm not mentioning this to be cheap. Gracie's is exceptional, and worth every penny you spend. I just want you to know that you're going to spend more than you would at, say, your local pub. Anyway, onto the food after the jump.

The amuse bouche: both amusing and refreshing.

You would think by this point, I'd remember to write down the cheeses that were included on the cheese plate - especially the really stand-out ones. But I never do. So it will have to suffice to say that our selection of 5 cheeses, ranging from soft and mild, to hard and sharp, to soft and stinky were delicious. The cheese was served with lightly toasted pumpernickle and an assortment of mustards and jams.

For my starter, I chose the veal sweetbreads. After my experience with sweetbreads at LaLaiterie, I've grown somewhat obsessed with the meaty texture and delicate flavor. At LaLaiterie it was the hypothalymus of a cow. I'm not sure if my preference for the veal sweetbreads was a function of the food itself, or how it was prepared. But this was wonderful. The texture was perfect, and the pan juices added such an amazing depth of flavor. Around the table, we saw appetizers of mussles, a beautifully refreshing ceviche and a rich, creamy gnocchi.

Sorbet to cleanse the palate, before the main.

Mahi Mahi

Bay Scallops


We passed our plates around and made "yummy noises" and laughed and laughed. The conversation was as rich and delicious as the food.

Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme

At Gracie's, it's the little touches that make the meal really special. I'm already thinking about what I'll have when I go back.

PS... What happens after such an amazing meal? Dancing our tushies off to hits of the 80's at Local 121, of course! Thank you ladies, for your unwaivering friendship, support and laughter. And thank you Gracie's for the food for the soul.

Happy Holidays, all!

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