My birthday was actually earlier this month, but I'm just now getting around to posting about it. Sorry that some of the photos are blurry. Dark restaurant, evening, no flash, etc.
This year, I chose to go to Ethan Stowell's Staple & Fancy Mercantile, specifically wanting to order their "Fancy" chef's choice meal. All this means is that you hand your menu back to the server and the kitchen decides what you will eat that night, based, of course, on their best dishes. This obviously doesn't work for people who have food issues, but it's great for me!
It was the second time I'd been there and was very good. The only criticism I had was that the starters all seemed to come out in a rush (I would have liked some time to savor each dish), so we felt like we had to devour it all quickly because it seemed like the food was coming out really fast. However, after we ate the starters in a hurry, we then had to wait...and wait...and wait... for the next course! That was kind of WTF. It would have even been fine for it to come out that way had we been told by the server that it was perfectly OK to linger over the food, that we could take our time with it. But anyway, the food itself was superb. I would definitely do the "Fancy" meal again in a heartbeat.
Sliced baguette with olive oil and vinegar for dipping.
Rich and buttery green olives. I wish gourmet olives weren't so salty, but these were better than most.
Ahi tuna crostini. The perfect amount of flavor, creaminess, and crunch.
Thinly sliced beef tongue with a bit of salad garnish. Yummy.
Deep-fried oysters with chili aioli. There are few things I enjoy more than a deep-fried oyster. Mmmmmm.
A steaming bowl of clams in a wine broth and plenty of parsley.
Radicchio salad. I liked it initially, then it got too bitter. This was probably the dish that was liked least by our table, because none of us are big fans of radicchio.
Not pictured -- argh, I thought I had gotten photos of everything -- soft-cooked egg with white anchovy draped over the top. Delicious.
Squash ravioli with little bits of squash and seasoned with brown butter and some cinnamon.
Grilled opah. This is the first time I've had this fish, which was a firm, white fish like cod.
Roasted chicken breasts on a bed of pureed parsnip. Really tender and full of flavor.
Chocolate boudino with whipped cream. Much lighter than regular pudding. Really wonderful.
Ricotta cheesecake with figs and saba. This is the best plain cheesecake I've ever had. So light and creamy, without the denseness that cream cheese gives, nor the sometimes unpleasant (at least to me) after flavor. The photo doesn't do it justice at all (it's a creamy white in reality), but then cheesecake doesn't really look fancy anyway. If all cheesecakes were like this, I wouldn't be iffy about them.