Friday, March 14, 2008
It is rare indeed for me to absolutely feel 'gushy' over a restaurant, but my experience last night at the Cottage Eatery in Tiburon has made me so, so be forewarned! It is evident that Chef Ed Carew loves to cook. You can really taste joy in the food, and I couldn't believe that every single dish held new and captivating surprises. Everything from choosing the best ingredients to the prep to the cooking and artful arrangement expressed focused attention to detail and melding to perfection. I asked the waitress if the Chef truly enjoyed cooking, and in response she told me how he often invites friends and family to his place just to enjoy cooking dish after dish for them. How many CPA's do you know that cheerfully invite their family and friends around the table to do their taxes as a treat with gusto? His wife, Jennifer Rebman, was also the perfect hostess, making the rounds of the tables and checking in with the diners. On to the food -
The first sign that this was going to be a great meal was the fresh bread that was brought with a fresh whipped red lentil spread. Not only good, but healthy too! I also understand that local and sustainable ingredients grace the plates of all the patrons.
Next came a surprise amuse bouche potato leek soup in a shot glass. It was a very smooth and flavorful few sips. It is nice to see little surprises come out of the kitchen and around the house.
Next up was the grilled ahi tuna belly with escarole and bean salad. The chef surely knows how to choose fish. This was a wonderful blend of flavors and textures and the ahi was rich and fresh and grilled just right.
And then out came another surprise taste, the beet ravioli, which I had eyed as a possibility instead of the ahi, and now I could taste both! Ravioli and the other pastas on the menu are made fresh in house daily. These beet ravioli were delicious and interesting with mizuna and poppy seeds among the toppings. Beets take on a whole new light in this presentation.
Potato gnocchi with asparagus and lecciho e.v.o.o. was my entree, and I've been trying to think of a gnocchi experience that topped this one and came up empty-headed. This is the best gnocchi dish I've ever experienced. When the dish was placed in front of me a fresh green scent wafted into my nostrils and I literally exclaimed "wow!" to the waitress. That was a new experience. The gnocchi fairly melted on my tongue and the sauce was perfectly emulsified and held together with integrity.
Although I hadn't planned on dessert, with a meal so perfect nothing could have stopped me from sampling the lemon-lavender pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream. I could see the softness of the pound cake as it was set before me. Pound cake doesn't usually have the appearance of soft clouds. It was just as tender and soft when I took a bite, and the hint of lavender struck an elegant note. Naturally the whipped cream and strawberries were wonderful too. And I usually neither like nor eat whipped cream. The Cottage Eatery is every bit as inventive and delicious as San Francisco's famed Aqua, with a more cozy and less hovering type service (and the prices are much more reasonable). This is a do-not-miss place which I fear will soon have a weeks long waiting list for reservations. It's that good.