Clio, White Truffles and Explaining Dishes
Had a wonderful dinner at Clio last night. Started with an unbelievably rich squash soup with terrifically crunchy miniature chanterelle mushrooms. DC had sweet corn soup with crab. While pouring the soup table side from a pitcher may be a little over done, the arrangement of the various "dry" ingredients in the bowl beforehand was truly beautiful --- my squash soup looked like a minature garden. We shared the fois gras terrine, served with dry grapes, grape sauce, and kumquat puree and anise berries. I was really looking forward to anise berries, as i'd never tasted them before, but they hardly had any taste at all, but a delightfully crunchy texture. I had the veal cheeks, which were unbelievably tender and deeply flavored. Quite generous portion as well. DC had the muscovy duck, which was perfectly cooked. It involved "deconstruction" --- duck skin, duck breast, and pulled duck were served separately the latter being stuff into a rolled beet. Very interesting. We had to rush off after dinner, so no time for desert. I did have a "shiso mojito" which was good, but not as good as at Oishii Boston --- Oishii's version used yuzu instead of lime juice, which seems to work better with the shiso.
There was also a special white truffle supplemental menu. I don't remember everything, but there was a chestnut and white truffle soup, and a slow cooked egg with white truffle and a Jamon broth (I believe these were $75), and a plate of tagliatelle with white truffle for $125. Didn't try any last night, but I was tempted.
Also, a question for the board: The last time I went to Clio we had the tasting menu, and I'm almost sure that the waiter explained each item on the plate as it was delivered. Tonight, the waitress didn't volunteer to explain when each dish was delivered, and when I asked about the various "textures" of Concord Grape on the fois gras terrine, she had to go back into the kitchen to find out that one was kumquat!
I'm sure there's great disagreement over whether people enjoy this practice or find it insufferable. I admit that I usually enjoy it, although I can also enjoy figuring it out for myself very much. But somehow at a place like Clio, where each dish is made with great intricacy and artistry, I rather expect the server to offer to explain what everything is.
Anyway, just curious whether Clio normally offers to explain each component in a dish and what people of think about this practice.
It's common practice, and expected, to have the server explain each dish when presented... and is always done at Clio. Obviously, on the night you were at Clio, there must have been a staffing issue and the server wasn't comfortable with her understanding of what was coming out of the kitchen.
Two things. One, thanks for the heads-up on the truffle menu ... not necessarily in my budget this time around but great to know about. Our Limster would have done that in the past so again, thanks for the tip. Two, of course your server should have been able to describe the elements of your tasting ... for me, a big part of the fun is to hear the lovely descriptions, especially if they are somewhat novel components. The other option I've seen (at Troquet) is to have a printed menu to describe the courses so the server doesn't have to.
Of course, she should have been able to describe everything. The question is whether people prefer the server to offer to describe everything as each plate is presented or find this unsolicited descripton annoying. At a place like Clio I would expect the former and I was surprised that she didn't.