So, I'm trying to plan my anniversary dinner (7 years).
I'm down to:
but I'm open to other suggestions. A lot of online recommendations for Mamma Maria's and Grotto (the former isn't bad but the latter lacks all romance, in my mind, as it's uber cramped and they are miserable in their wine storage and care).
Needs: must have a good/great wine list, have a romantic feel, be < $500 for two.
I've been to Menton and Hamersley's, never L'Espalier.
If you've never been to L'Espailer and you have been to the other two, there is no question you should go to L'Espailer. If someone asked me for a recommendation for a fancy aniversary dinner with no other information, I would have picked L'Espailer. I have done 2 anniversary dinners there that were both wonderful, food and service.
We always feel like the occasion is special when we celebrate at L'Espalier and have never been disappointed. If you are looking for other options, Troquet has an excellent wine list though I don't find the room "romantic" and Journeyman will, I believe, do their version of omikase with wine pairings for you at chef's table though I haven't experienced it but my friends did it for their anniversary and were very happy.
So, ended up going to L'Espalier. The courses we had:
-Autumn Broccoli with Iberian Ham (served with a gruyere sauce and quail eggs - well made, if a bit simple)
-Tuna and Pork (served with a charred onion sauce and some sesame oil - really well done. The pork was primarily fat and added a richness that helped balance the charred flavor of the sauce and complemented the tuna's leanness. Excellent dish)
-Duck for two (carved table side, cider glazed, served with some chard and a chestnut puree. Also included was a portion of duck leg confit and an apple crisp. A really nice amount of food and it felt very Autumn appropriate.)
-Chocolate and peanut butter souffle (not bad, a bit heavy for a souffle and the peanut butter flavor really came though, but not in the best way in my opinion)
-"Through the forest" dessert (A really neat, high concept dessert that was supposed to look like mushrooms in dirt and grass. The mushroom cap was a roasted marshmallow, the stem a mushroom parfait. The "dirt" a smoked/charred chocolate. The grass a green cake. It worked mostly but it became a bit much as an entire plate).
We also did the cheese cart (tried a bunch of the blue cheeses, cheddars, and others).
Wines: A Jura white, 1er Cru Nuits Saint Georges, and a glass of Sauternes with the blue cheese.
Overall, a really great choice. Thanks all!