New Years Eve is perhaps the most overrated holiday of the year, so instead of dropping over $100 on one of those silly “open-bar” parties where the venues are overcrowded and short-staffed, we opted to go out with a few of our close friends for dinner instead. We ultimately decided on Ardeo which offered a four-course prix-fixe menu for a reasonable price of $65.
Rachel and I haven’t dined at Ardeo since 2008, and it’s received quite the makeover since our last visit. Because we had a party of ten, we were seated at their “community table” – a long table which made conversation with the entire community just a tad difficult. I won’t blame that on Ardeo though, a round 10-top is typically found at banquet halls, not restaurants.
Anyway, the amuse bouche for the table was a beef tartar accompanied with egg “caviar” and black truffle. I liked the execution of the egg caviar, very clever.
Diners had six options to choose from for their first course, so naturally I went with the beef carpaccio. And yes, while I’m aware I just had the beef tartar moments ago, I’m a glutton for all things beef, so this decision was rather easy. The four thinly-sliced pieces of beef were topped with a couple of 63 degree quail eggs as well as pickled brown beech mushrooms. Lovely presentation and a solid first course dish.
Rachel ordered the gnocchi salad, which was prepared with spinach salad, crisp gnocchi, braised fennel, and truffle vinaigrette. She thought it was a great first course. The gnocchi were a little different than what she is typically used to in that they were longer pieces, but they weren’t too heavy and you could definitely taste the truffle oil.
For our main course, I ordered the seven hour braised leg of suckling pig. I haven’t had suckling pig since my 30th birthday at Komi, and while the grilled barrel-cut rib-eye caught my eye, I simply could not do a trifecta of beef in one sitting (… or could I?).
Back on topic, the pork was accompanied with cheddar grits, black-eyed peas, redeye gravy, and peanuts. It slightly reminded me of the Kalula pork we had in Hawaii, except the meat at Ardeo was dry in some areas and not as rich in flavor as its Pacific counterpart. It’s also a shame there that wasn’t any crispy skin included, but again, that’s Komi’s fault for taking this dish to the next level. I probably would have enjoyed Ardeo’s rendition more had Johnny Monis not completely spoiled me with his exquisite preparation.
Rachel’s entrée was the Day Boat Scallops with a butternut puree, spaghetti squash, bacon, and a lobster emulsion. The scallops were charred nicely on one side, but as our friend Keith mentioned who had also got the same dish, they may have been better if they were seared on both sides. The best part may have been the butternut squash puree as dipping the scallops in it made them taste even better. The spaghetti squash added a nice texture to the dish, but she couldn’t really taste any lobster in the emulsion.
For dessert, each patron received a trio of desserts. The first was a chocolate bonbon stuffed with vanilla ice cream and then dusted with more chocolate, the next was a coffee mousse, and the third was a chocolate-pistachio tart with salted caramel and a milk chocolate glaze. The tart was my personal favorite while Rachel favored the mousse.
Because it’s not New Years Eve without some bubbly, our waiter came by with some complimentary glasses of champagne to close out the meal. While the service was slow at times, I have to tip my hat to the manager. When one of our friends thought her cod was overcooked, the manager sincerely apologized and asked if she would like to order a different entrée. Within minutes, she received a freshly-grilled rib-eye and was very pleased with it. Now that’s excellent customer service.
When we received the bill, gratuity was not included which I felt was a little peculiar. Because we were such a large party, it’s often typical that restaurants include gratuity at a predetermined percentage, but apparently this was not the case for us. No matter, it just made splitting the check a little more time-consuming.
Overall, we had a great New Years Even dinner at Ardeo. Everyone had an enjoyable time and was satisfied with their meal. While restaurants are typically more expensive during the holiday, I felt that $65 was a fair price considering the quality and quantity of food we received throughout the night. I wouldn’t mind going back in the near future just to order from their regular dinner menu let alone their champagne brunch.