Tasting menu at Mill at 2T
This was a tough review for me to write and one I've sat on to ponder since our April 26th meal because most aspects of our experience were 'ok', but the price-vs-pleasure ratio, and the sensible expectations that come with a $100 per-person price tag for a tasting menu with wine pairing, weren't really in line for me.
No component of our tasting menu was prepared incorrectly and with the exception of one course (and I had the lone issue at the table with it) the food wasn't bad, but not in a 'Oh man guys, wait to you try this' manner but rather a hesitant, reserved, quiet, shrug-of-the-shoulders, 'It's good.'
The waitstaff didn't do anything wrong by any means but instead of having that person you just know truly cares about making sure you have a great evening, I felt like we had someone who more or less brought out and took away our plates. I can't even recall if they asked us after each course how we liked everything - I mean, I'm sure they did, but I can tell you I remember vividly how I was treated at every other restaurant that had a bill like we did and I don't have any memories like that here.
In short, 2T didn't have that extra gear that you would expect a restaurant of this caliber to have, in both food and service, and I didn't feel like it was a memorable dining experience based on the price.
I understand that based on other reviews on sites like this my experience is one of the very few that rates poorly so I've tried to be as descriptive as I can with my thoughts so readers can see where I'm coming from. If the tasting menu was $55, I would of course have the same gripes in what I feel were missteps but I don't think I'd be as detailed in my critiques.
Amuse of local asparagus, morel mushrooms and a fried egg: An unusual amuse for me for a few reasons. First, an amuse is usually a quick one-or-two biter, usually with a flavor profile that is salty or tart with a crunchy textural component . This amuse didn't really fit into that typical mold, in both flavors and size (a small plate, not that I'm complaining) but it did fit the bill in terms of setting the diner up for what's to come and setting the tone for the night - in this case good but not great or exciting dishes given the price tag. I had no real issues with the dish, other than the small use of truffle oil (which is a product made in cologne factories).
Hawaiian Nairagi Crudo: I've never had this fish before and found it to be very mild on it's own. I think with crudo preparations, bright acidic flavors and fresh herbs are the way to go and I think the yuzu marinade was a good idea but I just didn't get enough of it, only tasting it in one bite. The shaved radish salad and sea beans were fine but I didn't understand the purpose of the sriracha mayo on the plate and thought it only stood in the way of getting bright flavors from the fish.
Roasted striper with clam and mussel cioppino: In retrospect, maybe my favorite course of the night. Nice tomato and fennel broth (which we lopped up with the popovers - also very delicious on it's own and with the salted butter) and the striper was very fresh.
Slow roasted pork belly w/ blistered grape sauce and lentils: The pork belly was tender and nicely seasoned, perhaps from an overnight salt cure, but the grape sauce flat out didn't work for me. I found it overly sweet and syrupy and on paper I can understand the seasoned pork and the sweetness of the sauce should work but in theory I just couldn't get past the flavor.
Beef cheek stroganoff: They made their fettucine which was cool and the tender beef cheeks were another spin to make it their own, but... it's beef stroganoff! Not an exciting dish on its own and I didn't find this to be refined like you would expect at a place such as this. It was unappealing to look at, as it was mostly a plate of brown, and I'm not sure why the idea of this dish would be on a late spring menu on a nice day instead of a cold wintery Sunday afternoon.
The dessert trio featured the brioche donut, olive oil cake and chocolate flan and I enjoyed the first two very much. The chocolate flan was more of a mousse texture wise then what you'd expect a flan to be.
The wine pairings were the most egregiously upsetting aspect of the dinner. There wasn't any pairing that remotely worked for any course. A good wine pairing accentuates the flavors in one another and we just didn't get that. Our friends who joined us and have dined here in the past recognized a lot of the wines from a previous dinner.
The tasting menu is made up of courses on that nights menu and you can see what the tasting menu will be comprised of by a number (indicating the course with which it will be served) next to each dish. The courses don't go in order as you scroll down the menu and I think this a rather clunky way of presenting this. There should be a cleaner presentation.
From a flavor standpoint, I think 2T can and will be better. Nearly the entire menu changes almost weekly and a part of me feels like they would benefit by sticking with a menu a little bit longer so they can refine and fine tune. I know to completely dismiss a restaurant based on one experience is probably short-sided but I think I saw enough of things that I find important in a dining experience to know I'll probably be disappointed again if we returned. The price is just too high.