Sezmu Reno Chowdown
We were only four last night, but we all enjoyed a lovely, delicious dinner.
Sezmu is a relatively new restaurant in a quiet residential neighborhood in Southwest Reno (Mt. Rose St. just west of Arlington). It is fairly close to downtown (less than a mile) so even out-of-towners might want to check it out. Its small (11 tables) so definitely go with reservations.
Steve brought a wine to share (a red from Provence, sorry, can't remember more details). Corkage is 20 dollars. Unfortunately, I was told not to drink this week in anticipation of some medical tests...so I didn't indulge. But since Sezmu is the kind of place where one MUST have a cocktail, I tried one of their non-alcoholic versions, the Hibiscus Infusion. (Hibiscus tea, pomegranite juice, soda, sugar, and lime). Delicious, but probably better suited for hot weather.
Two of us opted for the four course tasting menu. It was $50, which is maybe few dollars less than the items would be if ordered a la carte. Last night's offering consisted of a scallop appetizer, Codia (a type of sea bass) with lobster bisque sauce, a beef filet on a barley stew, and a choice of deserts. Highlights were the lobster sauce on the fish, and the filet, which practically melted in the mouth.
Hubby and I weren't quite as hungry, so we went with a la carte items. I had a couple of the small plates and a soup....perfect. My starter was the "beet study"...heaven for a beet lover. It included some lovely roasted beets, a beet salad, and a beautiful tiny sandwhich of some kind of goat cheese in between two yellow beet slices. I then continued the yellow vegetable theme with the butternut squash soup. It was served from the tureen to the bowl, a touch I liked. The garnish included baked apples; the sweetness was an unexpected but pleasant twist. I finished with some grilled scallops marinated in shoyu and vodka...they were delicious, but possibly the best part of the dish were the home-made sweet potato chips on the side. I noticed you can get these as a starter; I will definitely do just that with my cocktail the next time.
Hubby started with the smoked salmon "salad." It consisted of some lovely smoked salmon, with a small salad on the side. There was some unidentified yellow vegetable in the salad; maybe more of that squash? Anyway, it was perfectly fresh and delicious. He finished with the one vegetarian main dish option, crispy polenta with a portabello slice and a little pomegranite sauce. Delicious.
Hubby and I shared the creme brulee for desert. It came with a little roasted pineapple and some perfect ginger snaps. The creme brulee was probably the most ordinary part of the dish. Tom had a pear medley...it included the most wonderful crispy rolled cookies with a pear and mascapone cheese filling. Steve had the chocolate cake. I'll let him comment, as to me it just tasted like chocolate cake, but then again I'm not a big chocolate cake fan. OTOH, the toffee it came with was perfect.
Every dish was beautifully presented. Service was warm and friendly, but I do think it lagged a bit between the starters and the mains. I welcome the other CHs comments, but I say check it out. Dinner for four with tax but without tip was around 220 dollars. BTW, we saw everything from blue jeans to furs last night...so although the food and the surroundings are elegant you can still go casual...(after all, this IS Reno).
Sezmu shut down for a while and I had my first meal there since it reopened on Saturday night. It was quite good.
I ordered olives, scallops and asparagus and a red pepper fettuccine with goat.
They cure their own olives and they were delicious. They bring out little nibbles between courses and they brrought old a cold dish in what is basically a large spoon. I don't remember what it was but it was tasty.
Next were my scallops and asparagus. Sezmu may be the best place in Reno for fish and seafood dishes. The scallops were fresh, no small trick for Reno, and were seared on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside. And delicious. The asparagus was tasty, too.
Next up was a little taste of potatoes, mushrooms and a dab of pureed peas. Again quite tasty.
Then came the entree. I get goat at the Indian buffets in Reno and I have it in Mexican dishes, so it was no big deal to order it at Sezmu. It was tender, like it had been slow cooked, and had a mild goat flavor. I liked it.
The real star is the fettuccine. Lots of wonderfully cooked fresh pasta. I loved it. When I saw the red pepper I thought it would be like the Zozo's chicken, but it's not quite as obvious. It's still pureed and then added to the pasta. It was a great dish.
At left is a photo of the scallops and also there's a photo of the red pepper fettuccine.
After several fabulous experiences, I had my first semi-disappointing experience at Sezmu last night. Still great overall, but the main I had on the tasting menu was a bit off--lamb chops that were overly fatty, and really just did not meld with the cannellini bean/broccolini/sunchoke mix they were served with. Nothing truly horrible, just not up to the standard they've set for themselves. My starter (raw tuna strips wrapped around avocado slices with fresh hearts of palm), and dessert (date cake) were excellent, soup (parsnip with a prosciutto/parsnip hash) was very good, and my wife's salad and flap steak main were both excellent.
in the 'little things' category, the butter that came with the bread was so rock hard (frozen) that I literally put the plate on top of the heat register on the floor under our table to try and soften it up a bit. Even more galling was the fact that they are now down to one salt dispenser for the entire restaurant. No kidding (apparently the rest have been stolen). When we asked for salt, the server literally had to get the one remaining salt mill from another (occupied) table; she had to take it back once, and we then had to ask for it again. IMHO it's bad enough that so many places don't even put salt (or pepper) out, implying that the chef has perfectly seasoned everything and you would never need salt, but to let your restaurant run down to a single salt dispenser and force the staff to play 'musical salt mill' shuttling it back between tables is absolutely ridiculous, especially considering the price tag at Sezmu. Even if they aren't the fancy push-button stainless salt mills that the restaurant originally had, they really do need to get some more salt dispensers.
To update, we were back at Sezmu a couple nights ago with some out-of-towners. All four of our meals were excellent, and the 'little things' that nagged a bit last time were fixed.
They have solved the salt problem--they now have small salt cellars with little spoons that they bring out to the tables when salt is requested, so there is no longer any need for the waitstaff to shuttle salt between tables anymore.
I finally made it to Sezmu last nite - my first time. Oh my! It was really quite amazing. I went with a friend and we shared the first few courses. We started with the chipotle sweet potato chips for a little nibble - very nice. That was followed by an amuse bouche, compliments of the restaurant, of what appeared to be raw veggies wrapped in what was something akin to a won-ton wrapper on top of basil oil. Tasty, and a pleasant surprise. Even the warm wheat bread was terrific. We shared both the seared scallops with pumpkin, "eggnog bubbles", belgian endive and the butter lettuce salad, cameo apples, pecans, idiazábal "snow", maple-cider vinaigrette. Both were lovely. I went with an entree of atkins ranch lamb shank, pearl couscous, eggplant, and some type of green - maybe chard? The braised lamb was flavorful and tender yet not too rich. All the desserts looked fabulous, but we didn't partake - next time...and there will definitel be a next time. With a glass of Erath Pinot Noir, I was out of there for $62 with tip. I believe Sezmu is my new favorite Reno restaurant.
MsRev and I flew back to Tahoe last week, having spent a difficult winter enduring 80 degree weather in Florida and really missing the cold and snow(what little there was) out here. After running some errands in Reno, we decided to stay for dinner before heading up the hill. I had read about Sezmu and was very anxious to try it. I was sorry to have missed the chowdown there with our friends Steve, Janet, Jerry and other chowhounds I hadn't met. MsRev and I were in absolute nirvana throughout the meal. Another what I call big city quality restaurant (along with Ciao Pizzeria and 4th St. Bistro) has entered the Reno dining scene. The quality and creativity of the food is no surprise as the chef is from Plumpjack, my favorite restaurant at the lake, along with Moody's Bistro.
MsRev started with seared scallops, sunchoke puree, fiddleheads, and vanilla-citrus. The scallops were cooked perfectly medium-rare without having to ask-refreshingly unusual in this area. Everything worked beautifully, as did my softshell crab, somen noodle-vegetable salad with thai basil vinaigrette. It was a delight to find someone serving fresh soft shells.
I usually never order chicken in a restaurant but decided to try fulton valley chicken, rye gnocchi, hen of the woods, favas with whole grain mustard. What's happened here in Reno-hen of the woods mushrooms on a menu? The distance to San Francisco is narrowing. This dish was a knockout. My all time favorite chicken is served at Don Giovanni in Napa with incredibly crispy skin and smokey moist meat. The chef must have spent some time there because the chicken was very similar in quality. MsRev had a wonderful alaskan halibut(perfectly cooked of course) with peas, pea tendrils, pine nuts, and sweet potato-lime jus. I don't remember dessert but it involved chocolate and was as delicious as the rest of the meal.
The soul of this restaurant is the use of the freshest, seasonal ingredients availble in sophisticated preparations at incredibly reasonable prices(no entree more than $26). My biggest regret is that it's too far from Tahoe to be a regular on my dining schedule!
I was beaten liked a rented mule last week at work so I decided to treat myself to dinner at Sezmu on Saturday. I got the four-course tasting menu for $50 and it was fantastic.
For openers, but not one of the courses, they brought me a spoonful of carrot soup. It was delicious. I guess I wa s supposed to savor it and take a little bit each time, but I tasted it and confirmed I liked it and then finished it off. Too fast, I guess, but it was tasty.
Then came my first course: A bowl of corn and clam chowder. The corn was crisp and fresh, like it was just off the cob and perfectly cooked. There was also a long, thin razor clam shell in the bowl for visual effect. I liked the soup.
Next up was a green salad with beets. Also quite good.
For the main course, I got to chose between venison and surf and turf. I was intrigued by the possibility of the venison but I went more traditional. The surf was monkfish with bacon vinaigrette and was wonderful. The steak was also perfect.
I had a tough time choosing my desserts. I narrowed the choices to a blueberry-lemon meringue and what I ultimately went with, a chocolate torte with vanilla ice cream. Delicious.
The Sezmu wine list expanded and got better. The chef there used to be the chef at Plumpjack in Squaw Valley and he carried over Plumpjack's philosophy of not gouging people on wine costs. For starters I got a $9 glass of 2006 Chehalem Chardonnay. Eh. It was served out of the refrigerator quite cold and may not have warmed up adequately to show it's best stuff before I finished it. I also got a $27 half bottle of 2005 Qupe syrah. Excellent wine. Fine tannins that don't get in the way of food, plus some cherry and some dark fruit flavors.
With the wine, though, my bill came to $92 and with the tip something like $107. So Sezmu isn't something I can afford to do every week. But it's still a special place to eat in Reno.
We were one of the couples who was scheduled to attended the chowdown with Steve Timko and others, but we unfortunately had to cancel. Being in Reno this weekend for the wine walk, we made reservations with another couple for afterwards.
I must say, Sezmu is the first " American food" restaurant in Reno that has impressed me in every aspect ( I’ve heard great things about Lolou’s, which is nearby, but we haven’t made it there yet.)The dining room is a long area with tables against one side of the wall and a bar along the other. There are no fancy distractions to be found and like the food, everything about the room seems well thought out, to either serve a purpose or make the guest seem invited in a friendly, familiar way. The tables are mostly bare with the food being served on a nice variety of shaped plates, as to expected these days, but even more impressive was the silverware-sturdy, without being clunky, comfortable to use without feeling frivolous.
We had a nice, informed waitress, who was polite & friendly without being overbearing. We began with one of each of the $3 starters -chipotle sweet potato chips, hummus & papadum and the house cured olives,-about 25 individual olives, at least 4 different types, all of them delicious. We followed this up by sharing 3 appetizers, 3 mid course, 3 entrees and two desserts.
Instead of going describing each individual dish, I think it would be better to describe the basic feel of the entire meal. First off, I must say that the chef is really good, who uses excellent techniques to get the most flavor across, without letting the dishes become muddled or distorted. No matter how many components are involved, each dish has a focus or a point. The beet study was 3 different types of beets, each presented a little different, no one individual star, but each supporting the others. The raw salmon dish was excellent, with an herbed oil and a cold potato “salad”. Salad doesn’t do it justice-perfectly cubed & cooked skin on potatoes with a refreshing burst of toasted whole cumin seeds. Often in our dishes, that seemed to be the case-a familiar taste, but with a sudden, unexpected burst of flavor- the tuna & yellowtail crudo with a habanera orange oil, the seckel pear dessert with ginger; a glorious symphonic build up finished with a cymbal clash denouement. The genuine food flavors are allowed to shine, sometimes with subtle contrast among like tastes, yet other times there are sudden, unexpected flourishes that heighten a dish, as in the carrot & shitake terrine, where the pencil thin carrots had a pleasant bite that seemed to make the tongue itself want to laugh. We tasted almost no butter, cream or heavy sauces, the flavors being accented by concentrated oils or foams.
The serving size of the courses is perfect for a 4 course meal, and with all of the food being so good, I think it is worth it to order one of each course, or just trust the chef and order the tasting menu. As much thought, love and care went into the foie gras two ways appetizer as the chocolate 3 ways dessert. If Reno gets more restaurants in the same caliber as Sezmu, I think there will be lots of happy Chowhounds.
Glad you enjoyed your meal. Wished you had been able to join us.
I like your description of each item having a focus or a point. And they're all pretty well done.
Fourth Street Bistro is supposed to be pretty good, as well. Maybe we should have our next Chowdown at LuLou's to compare it to Sezmu.
After nites out both Thurs and Fri, I didn't think I could go three-in-a-row! After reading your posts, I regret my decision to stay in on Sat. nite with chinese take-out in front of the boob-tube watching the Wolfpack get taken down by New Mexico! Sezmu sounds right up my alley - can't wait to give it a try and add to the post. Thanks, Janet and Steve, for your wonderful reviews.
Great report, Janet.
The meal was fantastic. I'm not one who's usually into presentation but the food was so beautiful and elegant as it arrived. Almost a shame to eat it. Almost.
The beet slices we all got to start with were small and delicate but so delicious. My first course in the four-course dinner was three servings of scallop served in a sea shell and coated with a delicious red sauce. I'm not certain what the sauce was but it reminded me of watermelon juice. I may be wrong about that, so I don't want to describe the meal wrong.
The fish for the second course was delicious and the filet mignon melted in my mouth.
The dessert was a thin rectangular plate with a small cylinder of chocolate cake at the left, two slices of toffee in the middle and a small sundae at the right. The cake and the filet were perfect matches for the wineI brought, a 1993 Pibarnon.
It was expensive. Not something I can do every week. Sezmu counts as a destination for Chowhounds looking for good dining in Reno. I'd suggest making reservations, but they do serve the full menu at the bar.
I wish the two other couples who had indicated some interest had been able to join us.