Sunday, January 06, 2013

Station 1

Since our going out requires a bit more advanced planning nowadays, a second visit to the same restaurant within the space of 2 months is high praise indeed. Mihai and I returned to Station 1 for an early New Year's celebration last week, based on a delightful meal and warm service we enjoyed there in November. Station 1 is just down the street from what seems like a more well-known Woodside restaurant; having not yet been able to score a reservation to the latter (despite the aforementioned advance planning), I cannot speak to whether its fame is well-deserved. However, I cannot say enough good things about Station 1, and am actually somewhat glad it seems to hide in the shadow of its more famous neighbor, as I only have so much patience for tracking down hard-to-get reservations.

Station 1 serves a 3-course prix-fixe menu for a reasonable price. Here's a brief run-through our most recent meal (please forgive the quality of the iPhone pictures):

Drinks: Woodpecker (left), Scofflaw (right).

The Scofflaw was one of the reasons I was eager to return to Station 1 - what a delicious combination of rye, vermouth, lemon, and grenadine. And I love the oversized cube of ice that melts slowly but effectively to make the drink a bit less strong over time. Mihai got the Woodpecker, which had the grenadine in common with my drink - a magic ingredient to make all drinks better? I would highly recommend both choices, except apparently the drinks menu was due to change in the new month (though our very kind waitress confided that the bartender could probably be persuaded to make off-menu drinks in the future as well, as long as we remembered what we wanted).

Appetizers: Celery root soup with pickled apple (left), Garganelli with Manila clams (right).

The pictures don't really do these appetizers (or the main course below) justice. Both appetizers were perfect wintry dishes, without being too heavy. The celery root soup was super smooth, and the pasta was swimming in a light creamy sauce, with the tiny clams adding some interesting bites to the dish.

Main Course: Cauliflower risotto with a chard chip (left), Wagyu bavette steak with rutabaga, arugula, and oyster mushrooms (right).

After we placed our orders, the waitress asked Mihai if he was vegetarian; we had coordinated our choices without realizing that he was ordering all of the (seemingly) meatless dishes, whereas both of mine contained obvious proteins. My guess is she was asking because the risotto used a non-vegetable broth, but that's just speculation. In any case, given the location of the restaurant and the quality of the service, I have no doubt that they are happy to accommodate true vegetarians. I was glad I wasn't really one that evening, however, as that steak was amazing. Mihai's risotto was good as well, but I was really happy with my choice - I don't eat meat all that much (because many cuts/preparations disappoint me), so it's always nice to get a steak that's as good as it should be.

Extras: Sesame Parker House rolls with an amuse-bouche of marble potato and gouda blue cheese foam (left), White chocolate lemon cream with pistachio crumble (right).

We had to ask the waitress to stop bringing out the Parker House rolls after we ate the second plate of them before the appetizers even arrived, and this is only meant as a comment on the rolls' taste, not on the length of time it took for us to get the appetizers (entirely reasonable). Serving an amuse-bouche in the beginning of the meal is always such a nice touch, because who doesn't like getting something "extra" and unexpected? Of course it helps when the amuse-bouche is as tasty as this one, since it heightens the anticipation of a good meal. And I am definitely a chocolate snob and don't appreciate white chocolate normally, but the palate cleanser cream served after our main course was also very well done.

Dessert: Almond cake with pear, quince sauce, and honey ice cream (left), Chocolate mousse (right).

Mihai was rewarded for his more daring choice, because while my chocolate mousse was very, very good, I'd say his almond cake (and everything it came with) was even better. That's what I get for my mixed feelings about almond desserts (for my taste they can hit both very high highs and very low lows).

Coffee and Tea (with almond mignardises).

We went all out and got coffee (French press, not shown) and Earl Grey tea. Just like the amuse-bouche, the mignardises are a great "extra" addition to the meal because they are a surprise (even though we'd been to the restaurant before). Chances are they don't cost the restaurant much, but they do add to the special-ness factor.

All in all, a wonderful dinner with great drinks and service (and company!) at a pleasant, non-stuffy restaurant. I hope to be back soon.


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