I Am Vegetable, Hear Me Roar! Ubuntu Redux (long)
Just came from Ubuntu. The food was crazy good!!! My husband, my daughter and I stuffed ourselves. We were hard pressed not to order every dang thing on the menu! It was all so insanely delicious!
We started with a generous serving of enormous sevillano olives marinated with pink peppercorns and horseradish - fresh, delightfully squeaky and perfectly salted.
We were thinking of a couple choices from the cool plates menu but we'd been outdoors all day and were more in the mood for hot plates, but we picked one: salsify with salsa verde, olive-caper parmesan pesto and butter lettuce. It was fantastic. We mopped up the plate with the warm, chewy bread provided.
We chose three hot plates, the first was stuffed bok choy in a french pumpkin soup with lemongrass and basil. This dish was amazing. Lightly spiced, delicate, truly outstanding in every way.
Of course we tried the four cauliflowers in a cast iron pot based upon everyone else's review and we were not disappointed. The steam was wonderfully fragrant when the server lifted the lid. My husband practically licked out the little black pot, and we could barely get him to share.
We also order the rustic stew of black radish, sunchoke and turnip, served with faro, swiss chard and tea-soaked prunes - yum! It was an old fashioned dish that actually tasted like something my Romanian great grandmother used to make. I loved the tea-soaked prunes!
Our last hot plate was the unbelievably good anson mills speckled grits, hickory smoked, with barbecued brussel sprouts, and celery root salad. It was so good we scooped up every single bite. The grits were wonderfully creamy and smokey and the brussel sprouts were absolutely perfect.
In addition, we ordered the wild nettle and garden kale pizza with an egg on top. OMG! We inhaled it! That was THE BEST pizza I've ever eaten in a restaurant and certainly the first time I've eaten an egg on a pizza. Even the egg was great. We used the crust to scoop up everything else left on the table, and I don't normally like pizza crust but this crust was really tasty.
Despite the fact that we were totally full, all the desserts looked so incredible that we tried two - the out of this world medjool date cake and the cheesecake in a jar. Plus my daughter and I both had the hot chocolate with Bluebottle Coffee - heavenly! Yummo! I haven't tasted anything like it outside of Europe. My husband was sorry he didn't order the chocolate because I was only willing to share a tiny sip of mine. We all agreed that we could eat the date cake every day for the rest of our lives. The cheesecake was excellent, but nothing special except for the sour cherries and the presentation. But all the cookies that accompanied the desserts were to die for.
$150.00 for three people with two glasses of good wine and an Anchor Steam. Worth every single penny. The environment is delightful, our server was helpful and attentive without being invasive, the chef is extremely friendly, and everyone in the restaurant seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely and I'm quite certain very few of them were vegetarians.
There are so many wonderful restaurants in the Bay Area, but this was something special - of course the fact that I don't eat red meat has a lot to do with it's appeal for me, but even my husband (who hates to spend money at restaurants) came home happy, satisfied and voiced not a single complaint. As a matter of fact, he said he'd love to go back for lunch.
I will go back for the chocolate - Bluebottle Coffee alone!
Sorry, really spaced out last night - we had four hot plates, not three and the chef said everything can be made vegan if that is your preference. I meant to mention that. Also, the single diners at the wine bar and the large open-seating table seemed to be having a great time. That's it!
re: hi standards
The way chowdowns usually work is that the table orders by consensus, everything is shared, and the tab for the food and nonalcoholic beverages is split evenly. Alcoholic beverages are usually run on a separate tab and the people who drank can negotiate among themselves how to settle up.
The host/organizer is encouraged to provide an estimate of the per-person cost in the announcement/invite.
We had a fantsatic lunch at Ubuntu.
The room is beautiful – high ceilings, lovely light, a wonderful communal table – in fact on Thursdays, you can take a yoga class and then have a “family-style” dinner at the communal table after class.
What impressed me most about Ubunta is the incredible flavors in each dish – this is very, very labor intensive cuisine and it shows.
Wine: Ladera 2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Beer: Moonlighting Brewing Company – By Boat IPA, Saanta Rosa, Ca
Radis au beurre, smoked salt, butter – the radishes were baby D’Avignon radishes, also called breakfast radishes from France. The French like to eat them for breakfast dipped in butter and kosher salt. The smoked salt added just the right touch.
Sunchokes with romesco, buddha’s hand – this was absolutely addictive – the sunchokes were perfectly fried, the Romesco spicy, but not overly aggressive.
Buddha's Hand is a fragrant citrus fruit.
Assorted broccoli a la catalan
Pine nut-soy milk pudding, golden raisins, roast red pepper consommé
Who would think that broccoli could taste so good, but the combination of flavors was wondrous and that is what makes this cuisine so special. There is such a burst of flavor in each bite.
Artichokes and Buttercrunch Lettuce with celery salsa verde (olives, capers, parmesan)
Carta da musica ( A Sardinian bread that is very thin, dry and crispy. The name Carta da Musica (music paper) is attributed to the noise produced when they are chewed.)
Oxheart carrot, roasted whole with satsumas
Fresh-picked greens, parsnip puree, mortared hazelnuts, parsley, rue oil
Erin, our wonderful server, first presented the oxheart carrot whole. The effect was like looking at a huge piece of roasted meat. The taste was superb and the hazelnuts added just the right amount of texture.
Four cauliflowers in a cast iron pot
Roasted-pureed-raw, vadouvan spice, brown butter toast – there is a reason this is a signature dish – there is just no way to describe how good this is.
Anson mills speckled grits, hickory smoked barbecue sauce
Brussels sprouts, celery root and tiny mizuna salad – my or my – the barbecue sauce was just perfect with the grits and who cared that there was no beef, chicken or pork – you didn’t need it or for that matter want it.
Farm egg and fried Robuchon potatoes
Black truffle “bordelaise’, Bordeaux spinach
Just when I thought I had two of the most sensational courses in a row, out comes the egg!!!!! My assumption for the reason that it is called Robuchon’s potato is that it was equal parts butter and potato. This is NOT diet cuisine and to be honest, we were getting very full.
Slow-cooked pineapple that I later learned had been cryovaced
Fresh passion fruit, smoked mango sorbet, passion fruit gelee, crisp shiso – delicious and I loved the addition of the tempura of shiso.
Vanilla bean “cheesecake” in a jar
Sour cherries, pine nut sable – exceptional
A bite of nougat
This was an exceptional lunch.
I just had dinner #2 this evening and wow, even better than 1st visit in Sept.!!!
Had Arty salad w/veg salsa verde and pecorino; oxheart carrot, braised w/turnip puree seasoned with mace: the caulfilower pot and potato roubochon w/spinach, slow-cooked egg and red-wine/truffle sauce. For dessert the lemon/yuzu parfait and epoisse cheese and prunes in armagnac. A bottle of Hanzell '05 Chard and the olives and almonds to nibble before ordering. Totally terrific.