I wasn’t expecting to dine at Secco for Restaurant Week. What, after all, is the point of going somewhere you already know and love when there are untested (untasted?) restaurants to explore? Tonight, however, was Valerie’s last night of a class at The Visual Arts Center and, as she’s only halfway able to taste anything while she recovers from a cold, she gave me the all-clear to get in one extra night of dining by myself. Fortunately I was able to score a table when I arrived just after 6:30, and I came ready to order from their Restaurant Week menu (though they appear to be serving from their standard menu as well).
I started with the velvety cream of cauliflower soup, poured over brown butter, sweet curry, and dark chocolate. I’ve had this soup before, and tonight was an improvement on what I already enjoyed. The curry stood out a little more and the chocolate was just subdued enough not to overpower the light flavor of the other ingredients. I had a glass of pinot blanc from Alsace to wash it down, and it really brought out the butter in the soup nicely.
Secco’s special menu allows you to choose two items for the second course. This is, I’m sure, because of the “small plates” nature of their offerings, but it also makes for a serious value at the restaurant week price. I went with the braised octopus and the lemon-infused maltagliati with duck ragu. I’ll start, as I did while dining, with the octopus.
This was the third or fourth time I’ve eaten octopus in any form, and I suppose it comes with the territory that it’s a little chewy. I’m not talking rubber bands now, but it does require a little more jaw work than most seafood. That’s not to say it wasn’t delicious. The braise added plenty of flavor, and it was clearly finished over some fire which gave it a nice crisp exterior. My cephalopod was accompanied by Yukon Gold potatoes that Tim smoked using a nifty kitchen gadget. Lovage, a green in the celery family, rounded out the dish and balanced the smoky flavor of the potatoes.
This was the second time I’ve had the maltagliati, a rough cut pasta that, in this case, was served with lemon zest and a rich duck ragu. This dish is one of my favorites at Secco because it’s simultaneously complex, fragrant, and comforting; the perfect cold weather dish. I’m not sure whether it’s duck confit or braised, but it’s super tender and generously applied.
My dessert was completely new to me, however. A chilled plate arrived with a scoop each of olive oil gelato and rosemary sorbet. Holy daring flavors, Batman! Tim informed me that he used a nice sweet finishing olive oil in the gelato, and it added just the right hint of fruitiness. But oh my, the star of the plate was that rosemary sorbet. Full disclosure – there was a bit of a frozen chunk in the middle. That was small, though, and it still tasted wonderful. The rest of the sorbet was as smooth as you could ask for, and the aroma and flavor of rosemary was just right. I’d love to stir a healthy dose of this stuff into a quality gin to make a cocktail 🙂
Sadly, I have class tomorrow and Thursday, so my next (and final) Restaurant Week adventure won’t be until Friday, but I’ll be sure to report on that excursion as well.