That picture up there? It is of Lobster Pot-au-Feu. Two pounds of succulent crustacean, cooked in a sublime, deeply satisfying seafood broth, served with creamy sauces on the side for -- should you choose -- an extra dab of opulence.
This would have been the star of my multi-course dinner at Millesime last night. Would have been, except for all of the other brilliant dishes that came before.
It was a starry, starry night.
Starting with an icy plate of sweet, buttery West Coast Oysters and glasses filled with a dry, citrusy Sancerre, my pal Laurel and I happily settled into one of the bustling seafood brasserie's red leather banquettes to peruse our options. Lucky for me, one of my friends had recently settled into Millesime as a sous chef, so he promised to guide us in the right direction.
Did we need guiding? Not really, he admitted. There wasn't a bad pick on the menu.
Having yet come even close to tasting the kitchen's transcendent Lobster Pot-au-Feu, we were still in a position to withhold judgement. Oysters and wine were lovely, but they had yet to show us the culinary gravitas we expected from the much-praised San Francisco chef Laurent Manrique.
It didn't take long for us to be wowed. A puffy, piping hot, cheese and black pepper souffle magically appeared at the table, soon to be smothered in chunks of crabmeat glistening in a ginger beurre blanc. You could hear the clatter of our forks scraping every last morsel from the ramekin.
To off-set the richness of the souffle, a tartare of hamachi with a fragrant lime and ginger cream followed. Once again, utensils were put to good use, gathering up each and every bite.
Then, the menu's Grande Dame arrived -- Quenelle Jean-Louis. Firm pike dumplings slathered in a lavish lobster sauce, baked until lightly brown and bubbly, it made me audibly moan with pleasure. It was masterful. It was was the French food of yesteryear. This type of culinary hedonism may be frowned upon in certain circles, but I say "Vive la difference!"
And then there was the Pot-au-Feu.
After that I kind of draw a blank. There was cheese. There was something chocolate. None of it made much of an impression.
How could it, after all that star power?
Star light, star bright, first wish I make tonight?...A chance to revisit Millesime -- after a week-long fast.