Last night I was invited to a "thank you for being so awesome" dinner by my amazing sister and her sweetheart fiance. As I'm sure we can all agree, thank-you-dinners are at their most genuine, and most appreciated, when they take place at a steakhouse. Specifically, Bistro Laurent Tourondel.
Anyone who has dined here has tried the chicken liver pate they serve along with the bread basket. You know you're in for something special when they serve pate instead of butter. This chicken liver is extra smooth and the taste of iron is like metal in your mouth, but in a good way. Like the vitamin and protein flash you get when you start a meal off with oysters, the iron and protein psychs you for the food marathon ahead.
As if that weren't enough, we all know about the remarkable cheesy poufs that make this place so memorable. The recipe comes attached to the gruyere flavored popovers and their doughy, buttery aroma will get your heart beating like a caged bird flapping its wings.
For starters I would go for the tuna tartar or the mussels. The tartar is a thing of beauty, with a layer of bright avocado, pink tuna and crispy onions in a pool of ponzu. It packs some punch in there too with the wasabi, so don't be fooled by the stately elegance of the presentation.
The mussels are a large appetizer portion so they are best shared. They arrive in a cast iron skillet with bits of chorizo in the wine broth and comes with chunks of tomatoes and a piece of garlic bread. Of course, there is plenty of bread for sopping at the table so no need to ration portions.
The best steaks are the 8 oz filet or the wagyu skirt steak marinated in chimichurri sauce. The wagyu is served with a persillade and the marbling of this kobe-style beef adds extraordinary depth of flavor to this thinner cut. As for the filet, this thick cut somehow maintains the tenderness of a marshmallow and is superb with a creamy bearnaise. The meat was perfectly pink throughout, with a fine crust. The other steak at the table was the hanger steak from the blackboard specials. I was not a fan of the citrus tang of the marinade. With lemon zest all over it, I felt it took away from, rather than enhanced, the bold and succulent flavor of the meat.
The wagyu skirt steak arrives sliced right out of the oven.
For sides, we ordered the truffle mac and cheese, provencale tomatoes, hen of the woods mushrooms and maple glazed, bacon brussel sprouts.
Truffle mac n cheese with gruyere crust
The mac and cheese was good and if you look closely you will notice bacon bits mixed in. The hint of truffle was apparent but not too obvious at first. The truffle instead leaves an aftertaste that sort of lingers the same way that you catch the smell of the woods while you turn the page of a book. Like the delicious scent of a woodsy cologne on yesterday's clothing.
The mushrooms were chewy and I barely touched them even though if you ask my brother in law he will vouch that I usually love mushrooms. And the tomatoes which were roasted and served with a crust of bread crumbs and herbs from Provence were surprisingly bland. The brussel sprouts saved the day with a maple glaze and were slightly bitter inside. I guess we should have gone with the jalapeno mashed, the onion rings, the parmesan gnocchi or the potato gratin instead! Der.
Now for the good stuff, DESSERT!
I ordered the crepe souffle since it sounded unique and I was giddy with glee when it arrived buried in powdered sugar. It was fluffy and custardy on the inside and the best part was the passion fruit sauce that just made the whole thing come alive and dance cartwheels on my taste buds.
Here is the French millefeuille style apple tart with cinammon stick icecream. Buttery and flaky just the way it should be.
We were feeling festive after our lovely repas and the excellent service. So we climbed our way up from our comfy banquet and our wine induced drowsiness and went off into the cold, brisk night to decorate the "Christmukkah tree" and be merry.