Relate at Bistro St Germains - Closing Night

>> Saturday, March 5, 2011

Date of Dining: 2/26/2011
Price: $55 for 5 course tasting + a la carte
Location: Bistro St. Germain's, 1010 S. Coast Highway 101 #103, Encinitas, CA

The Quick Bit:
+ Service was improved from the first visit
+ All diners were seated indoors
+ Good variety of dishes
+ Dishes tended to have a "surprise" element
Δ Closing night could have felt more exciting
Δ Some proteins and vegetables could have been cooked better
Δ Could be more variance in the "surprise" dish elements

Note: This review will be slightly shorter than usual since it's revisiting a restaurant quickly.

Closing night in a popup restaurant is a time of many emotions. On one hand, it's the last night and it can be a glorious finish to a successful run. On the other hand, those that were employed for the run of the popup could find themselves without jobs. Diners are generally excited to be in attendance on closing night so they can potentially hear the Chef give some clue as to when the restaurant will pop up again. On the closing night of Relate, all of these things were prevalent.

During his closing speech, Chef Moody ensured the diners that Relate would return to San Diego, probably in the early summer. He also expressed that the next concept would not likely be as high end.
Relate Menu for Closing Night
Throughout the first incarnation of Relate, Chef Moody changed his menu weekly, only keeping the French Onion amuse and the spiced beef throughout. My party decided to order all the a la carte items, splitting one terrine for the table of 7, and ordering four of the escargots to share as well.
"French Onion Soup" Amuse
The French Onion Soup didn't work the second time. The breading was too heavy and it overwhelmed some of the other flavors. There also seemed to be fewer onions that could be chewed.
Crispy Burgundy Escargots Cauliflower puree, Ancho Chili, Garlic
The escargots were cooked perfectly and there was enough garlic to go with the escargot this time. Despite the description it seemed to be a cauliflower foam with the ancho chili puree. The ancho puree was good, but the foam was tasteless and seemed to take away from the dish. I really liked that there wasn't toast to interfere with the flavor of the escargot this time.
Mussel Chowder, Bacon Corn Custard, Potato Foam
I really wanted to like this dish and I still do in some strange way, but there were many problems with it. The back corn custard was very cold (while the mussel chowder was hot) but mixing the components cooled off the dish to where the entire thing was somewhat lukewarm. Additionally, the mussel chowder alone seemed to have over-reduced and was very salty. Finally, the color of the soup was somewhat unappetizing.
63 Degree Egg, Star Anise Potato Mousseline, Hedgehog Mushrooms, Duck Confit, Vadouvan Foam, Crispy Spinach
This dish had a lot to live up to and perhaps it would have except there were a few problems again. The key component of the dish (the egg) looked like this to most of the table:
Overcooked 63 Degree Egg
Had the yolk been more runny, this dish would have been more enjoyed by the table. Additionally, the Mousseline had cooled to the point where it was grainy in texture and that took away from the rest of the dish. I will say that while I was worried about the [deep fried] crispy spinach, I actually enjoyed it thoroughly and it almost saved the dish.
Sesame-Glazed Sauteed Barramundi, Baby Bok Choy, Vanilla Sushi Rice Creme Anglaise, Seaweed
Barramundi is always a tricky fish because there's about a 10 second window from cooked right to overcooked, and the fish tastes horrible when overcooked. The "thin" end of this fish was overcooked, but luckily the thick end was still okay. However, the bok choy was overcooked, which took away from the dish. The sushi rice would have been better as some actual rice on the plate.
Spiced Beef, Spinach Avocado Puree, Porcini Spaetzle, Guiness Gastrique
I preferred the Green Flash Gastrique over the Guiness since it wasn't as sweet, but the rest of the dish was cooked much better than the previous visit.
Banana Bread Pudding, Bourbon Pecan Pie, Vanilla Cognac Cream
This was the best dish of the night. I thoroughly enjoyed the dish. As a minor point of the criticism the bananas "tasted green" and the dish would have been better if the bananas were a bit more ripe.

Overall, I was still happy with the overall experience despite some of the technical issues. The only problem with technical issues are that they prevented the night from being an outstanding experience. I will still look forward to the next Relate, but I will have to temper my expectations.

Additionally, I was going to award Relate a megabyte award, but the technical issues this time made me  take that back.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
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