Saturday night, K and I celebrated the anniversary of our first date at Restaurant Alma. After the loss of our first date restaurant (Heidi’s), we wanted to stick to a small, local, chef-driven restaurant with character and Alma fit the bill. We also decided our gift to each other was going to be to splurge on dinner — difficult to do with such an incredibly reasonably priced three course tasting menu ($45/person). To elevate the splurge, K bought a bottle of 2000 Dom Perignon to enjoy with dinner.
We both took advantage of the tasting menu. Upon our server’s recommendation, I started with the warm corn crepe with spicy chard. Yum. Perfect spice level, all the lovely Southwesterny flavors blended in that beautiful corn crepe. More crepes should be made from corn. I must learn how to do this. K had the arugula and potato salad with smoked whitefish and mustard vinaigrette. I had a taste and, while my corn crepe was the winner, I liked the crispy house made potato chips in his salad and the smokiness of the fish.
For my second course I went with the spicy prawns with glazed bacon and sticky rice. It was really good, but upon reflection I’m not sure why I chose distinctly Asian flavors after such a distinctly south of the border first course, but that’s what floated my boat. The champagne, however, complemented both in completely different ways though, so that was interesting. K’s second course of braised rabbit and polenta was amazing! Smooth and creamy and the tiniest bit gamey (in a good way).
K went with the seared yellow fin tuna with roasted squash as his third course and the spice rub on it was inspired, but my taste buds are still smiling about my trout with spaetzle, smoked ham hock and oyster mushrooms. Everything worked perfectly together, the fish was velvety and the smoked ham played perfectly off the mellow fish and earthy mushrooms.
I went with the lemon tart for dessert and K went with the homemade vanilla fritters. Point to K because how can you go wrong with fried dough rolled in sugar and drizzled with raspberry sauce?
I like wine and I *love* champagne, but I’m no expert. K is the wine guy. The flavor and character of the Dom Perignon changed with every sip, as its temperature rose slightly and with each different course. This was the first time I really noticed this with a beverage, though I’m sure it’s true of most wines. I would now like to drink Dom Perignon with everything (including my breakfast cereal) to see how it goes with all other foods.
The atmosphere at Alma was nice, good buzz in the dining room and the service was good. My only gripe was that I called ahead, explained that it was a super special occasion and asked if they might have the chef stop over if he was around or … well, anything to take the “special” up a notch. I called several times during a weekday (after 2pm, as their website requests) and had to leave a message because no one answered. Like I said, the service was good and someone did wish us a happy anniversary (after they saw the bottle of champagne), but it wasn’t the extra special I was hoping for. Minor gripe, but just something I hoped they’d run with a little more.
Since Alma’s menu is fresh, local, organic and seasonal we’ll definitely be back to see what spring will bring.