Incanto's 2007 Head to Tail Dinner
First impressions -
-The menu seemed much tamer than years past, perhaps an attempt to mollify squeamish palates?
-The wine pairings were great...especially the sweeter numbers.
-There were two salad courses served, which struck several of us as rather odd
-The fish maw soup was intensely fishy and included no visible maw but several inedible bits; this course did not go over very well
-The tripe and blood cooked in a lamb's bladder smelled of urine but thankfully didn't taste of it, though two of our group couldn't stomach the cooked blood
-The candied cockscomb dessert was astounding: we could have all finished second portions, perhaps because the rest of the meal hadn't been very substantial
-Coffee was strong and free of charge
-Overall evaluation from our table: B-
The sweetbread and tendon dish was my favorite. I could make a whole meal of that. Once a week.
The lamb's tounge and fries (i.e. testicles) was similar to head cheese. Didn't occur to me that it was a second salad, given the way innards can be rich I was happy for extra veg.
I liked the fish maw soup a lot, my second-favorite dish of the night. No inedible bits in my helping.
The tripe etc. in the bladder didn't seem too salty to me, maybe because I was eating it with the relatively bland polenta.
Portions seemed reasonable to me, I was full but not stuffed the way I was after the Quinto Quarto we did a few months ago, at which I was the only person to finish several courses:
I was there as well. The menu included:
-crispy sweetbread & ward beef tendon with mint
(Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut NV, Bortolmiol)
-lamb tongue with lamb's tongue lettuce and pickled grapes
(Riesling 2003, Falkenstein)
-fish maw with chickpeas and agretti
(Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Cerasulo 2004, Torre dei Beati)
-pork tripe, beans and blood cooked in vescica with creamy polenta
(Barbera d'Asti Ca' di Pian 2004, La Spinetta)
-candied cockscomb with cherries and rice pudding
(Brachetto d'Acqui Rosa Regale 2006, Banfi)
My favorites were the sweetbreads and candied cockscomb. I also loved the amuse bouche, a fried rabbit's ear.
Unlike grishnackh, I found some of the dishes too substantial: the lamb tongue had too much meat for me. The fish maw seemed too fishy at first, but as I ate more I enjoyed it more. The blood cooked in a bladder was my least favorite dish--it was overpoweringly salty.
Rabbit ear was new for us. My husband's arrived crispy fried so he couldn't tell the difference. Mine was too chewey. I am not sure I liked mine. Maybe it will grow on me.
The crispy sweetbread was over crispy. Probably the worst we have had. Beef tendon and the mint salad was quite nice in contrast.
We liked the lamb tongue salad. I liked the pickled grapes very much. Could have done with more of the grapes. I agree with others that the balance of lamb tongue salad vs remaining was skewed. I would have preferred more salad/grapes to cleanse my palate in between. The tongue bits were good. Although not as good as Bistro Jeanty's tongue salad.
The fish soup was good by itself but I couldn't identify maw bits. Too cleaned up for me. The chickpeas were not soft enough and didn't go with the fish. I liked the agretti texture.
Pork tripe and blood pudding was good but I could have done with a bit more texture in there. We had this blood sausage at Bouchon which had oats, and apples in it and the balance of taste and texture was perfect. Polenta was disappointing. My perfect polenta experience has only been at Chez Panisse. Why? All these great cooks and can't get the basics perfected..... :-(.
Candied cockscomb was visually nice but not interesting to eat.
The service was quite good given how busy the kitchen was. Someone in the back kept taking flash photographs throughout and that was a bit bothersome. This was my second trip to Incanto. I really wanted to try their head to tail but as far as food goes this was disappointing.