Alta - what to order?
I am excited about eating at Alta for the first time. As one of two vegetarians in my party, I would love to hear about favorite vegetarian items on the menu, or items that can be modified to become vegetarian. I am already planning on the crispy brussels sprouts and the cauliflower made without meat. What else? And what about dessert? Should we eat it there (please make recommendations, if so!) or is there somewhere tasty nearby that can accommodate 6?
I love Alta! I actually just took a couple of out-of-towners there earlier this week. The servers are not always 100% attentive, but most of the food is delicious. Unfortunately, there are a few duds too, but here are my recommendations:
I second the brussels sprouts, the cauliflower, the coca, the Philadelphia Truffle Surprise, and the eggplant/lebne dip. (To answer kobetobiko's question: The Philadelphia Truffle Surprise seems to be a mixture of cream cheese and truffle oil, wrapped in phyllo dough and deep fried.) For a dish that should be fine to vegetarianize, you could also try the Ricotta Parmesan Gnocchi (tomato & piquillo pepper sauce, pancetta, pesto).
As for the items I'm not wild about: Although haofan mentioned the mushrooms, I wasn't a big fan; maybe the sea salt drew out the liquid, but I thought they were too soggy. I'd also steer clear of the Paprika-Potato Gratin (oloroso carmelized onions, piquillo, manchego) -- it's tasy, but nothing special.
My very favorite thing on the menu (in fact, one of my favorite things to eat, period) is the Peperoncino Spaghetti (with bottarga di muggine, dried bonito & shrimp oil & pepper cress). If you're a vegetarian, I don't think there's any way you can take the seafood out of it, but the non-vegetarians in your party will LOVE it as long as they enjoy the fishy taste of bottarga.
For the fish-eaters, I also recommend the Ceviche of Fluke (tamarind, lime juice, arbequina olive oil, berbere & chives). It's a really interesting combination of tastes, although the tamarind is a little overpowering.
For dessert, I like the new style cornbread (which is not on their online menu). The last time I had it, the bread was a little bit dry, but I think it's worth a try because of the combination of cornbread, lemon, blueberries, and whipped cream.
Enjoy your meal!
Add to that list Smoked Eggplant and Lebne Dip and most especially the Philadelphia Truffle. Skip the Summer Tomato Melt and Heirloom Tomato And Watermelon Salad. Tomatoes were mealy and bland; really not much in keeping with the rest of their offerings. And don't try to vegeterianize the gnocchi. The outcome isn't all that great.
I've not had too many of the desserts, but I do remember the Rice Krispies Treat being particularly good.
In addition to the brussel sprouts and caulilowers, I also enjoyed the bacon wrapped dates, the gulf shrimps, the potato gratin, the crab cannelloni (a bit sweet, but I liked it), and the rabbit confit. The fried goat cheese as recommended by haofan was also quite good.
If I remembered correctly I had a banana dessert that was quite good as well.
I haven't been back for ahile and would love to hear some recent feedbacks.