It must be love if a wife is delighted by her husband working the phrase “wretched hive of [scum and] villainy” into an anniversary card.
Ben and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary today with dinner at the Chef’s Table in Orem, Utah. It’s a pretty fancy place, though weirdly located on dreary, high-traffic State Street and nestled on a hill between a car dealership and some not-fancy housing. Still, the service was great and the food was amazing. We’d never been there before… but we’d like to go there again.
Ben called ahead for a reservation yesterday and had apparently mentioned that it was our anniversary… so when we arrived we were greeted with “Happy Anniversary” and some pleasant small talk by a chipper, dark-haired woman wearing a bright pink shirt. We were taken to the “reservation room” where we had a nice view of the mountains despite the cloudy, rain-threatening weather. The trees were not yet full enough to block our view of telephone poles and houses below, but it was fun to watch a pair of starlings flitting about the springtime trees all evening.
Ben and I don’t eat out a ton, but when we do it’s usually nothing fancy. You know, the type of place where menus are either already at the table, slapped in a pile in the middle of the table, or handed to you but with sticky stuff all over them. So the Chef’s Table was a lovely change of pace. The menus were opened and handed to us one at a time, and the pink-shirted hostess somehow also managed to lay my napkin over my lap simultaneously.
As soon as she walked away, a waiter’s assistant walked over and placed a stemmed glass dish with a dollop of something in front of each of us. “Lemon sorbet,” he said, and walked away.
“GOURMET!” I believe I whispered to Ben. And then, because I was feeling like I knew what it was for, I said, “To cleanse the palate.” I still think that’s a pretty good guess, and didn’t have a reason to think otherwise.
After some major deliberation, I ordered the “sautéed duck in port reduction sauce” with roasted red pepper potato soup. Ben ordered the “bacon wrapped beef tenderloin with sauce madeira” with French onion soup.
Normally when we try new places or new foods we’ll reach across each other’s plates for samples or trade partial portions. We didn’t feel comfortable doing that there, so I can’t vouch for the taste of Ben’s food, but he reported that is was very, very delicious.
Regarding my soup, I said to “imagine the most amazing potato soup you’ve ever had, then add freshly roasted red pepper to it.” It wasn’t too creamy and the spice levels were perfect. The texture was not entirely smooth, but that didn’t prevent me from finishing the whole mini-tureen that was placed before me. In response to my soup review, Ben said this regarding his: “Imagine the most amazing French onion soup you’ve ever had. (…) Yep.”
(I’m writing this review of food without being a practiced food critic. Suffice it to say that while our meal was more expensive than the norm for us, it was delicious enough to warrant an attempt at food critique.)
I ordered a glass of 2005 Raymond Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon to go with dinner (for my Utah friends: that’s a type of wine). It was advertised as having, among other flavors, overtones of caramel, vanilla, and coffee. I tasted the caramel and vanilla but couldn’t detect the coffee. Guess I still have some work to do before I can become a sommelier! Whether or not it was supposed to go with duck, I can tell you that it was really good wine.
It was also nice to see that I was not the only one enjoying a glass of wine with dinner—a table behind us ordered a couple bottles. It’s still funny to see a table full of grown-ups at a fancy restaurant drinking only water, coke, and lemonade.
Our main courses were beautifully presented on large white plates with sprigs of fresh rosemary and the sauces artfully poured over the meat. My duck was cooked medium rare, as suggested by the waiter, and it was tender, juicy, and not like chicken. I’ve only had duck once before, but this one was better. The large slices of zucchini (which I normally don’t like) and carrots were made gourmet by dipping them lightly in the port reduction sauce. The “crispy house potato gratin” that also came with the duck was one of the best potato dishes I’ve ever tasted, and I’m not a big fan of potatoes so don’t take that statement lightly. The melted cheese on top is what made them “crispy.” I am considering calling the restaurant tomorrow to ask if I can just get a tray of that crispy cheese to go. It was really good cheese.
The dessert menu looked fantastic, but we’d cleared our plates and absolutely could not eat more. I vow to go back for just dessert one day soon.
We took our time eating dinner and really enjoyed ourselves this evening. Perhaps my review would be different had it not been our anniversary—I guess I’ll just have to go again soon to test out that theory.
Lastly, I leave you with a personal accomplishment. At the start of the meal, Ben looked at the wine, then my shirt, and said, “This is going to end badly.” But I wore a new white shirt and didn’t dribble ANY food or wine onto it! New world record!