Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Maxwell's *Mock* Dinner

Went to Maxwell’s mock dinner Tuesday night, with the brother, Steven, Roxanne Murphy, and Kevin. This is usually when a new restaurant gets their first chance to practice cooking the entire menu with the kitchen crew prior to opening, under conditions akin to actually being open. The difference being-- the restaurant invites their investors, purveyors, friends and family to “practice” on. Dinner is free, and the guests know that service might be a little ragged but you get a glimpse behind the curtain, and a first-look at the hot new ticket in town!

We arrived at 7pm and were promptly seated by Christina! Our beautiful & charming Hostess who performs the same function for us at Pacific Grill.

We were seated at a comfy booth right up front next to the action where we could watch Chef ‘Movie Star’ Matt Colony work his magic. ...But who is that tall 6’5” sous-Chef in front of us—why it’s Cody Reaves. Cody was my first sous-chef at Pacific Grill who now runs the kitchen at SIP restaurant up in Issaquah, near Lake Sammamish. He needed to be called in to lend a helping hand when Chef Sean’s wife went into labor. Way to go Cody.

Our Waiter Cory, late of Pacific Grill [nicknamed "Scory"] as he scored us a great red wine from Bergevin Lane in Walla Walla [actually a relative of my ex-wife]. And it was great!

The first plate to arrive was a nice selection of pristine briny oysters with a “pomegranate martini mignonette sauce” according to the menu (that was a tad too sweet for me). A mignonette sauce needs to have enough acid or vinegar to balance briny quality of the oyster. But the sweetness of this sauce to me wreaked havoc with the oysters—which in any case didn’t need anything more than a little squeeze of lemon. Someone needs to remind the "shucker" to clean the lip of the oysters so that no debris remains behind, as each oyster had debris clinging to the shell which we had to wipe from our tongues. Local Oysters 3/$6

The presentation was beautiful on a bed of polished rocks—which at first glance I thought was a bed of olives. I am glad I noticed before I tried eating one, as Matt’s food is so good I had skipped lunch and I was starving.

Next came a bowl of “Creamy Organic Carrot & Fennel Soup with curry, and tarragon infused oil" $7. The soup was delicious but I thought it maybe needed a pinch of sea salt to bring the flavors into sharper focus, and for my part, I am not a tarragon fan, and was glad I could not taste it--anyway-- with all the other flavors going on I didn’t miss it anyway.

A bowl of Steamed Manila Clams with spicy sausage & grilled bread $14 was wonderful. I wish the sausage had more char on it, but this is a minor quibble. It almost looked like the sausage had all the casing pulled off of it. The grilled bread soaked up all the wonderfully delicious steamer broth redolent of the briny clams, and lots of thickly sliced garlic cloves. Really good. I wanted to pick up the whole bowl and drink it.

Next a gorgeous fat slab of crusty chared Rib Steak arrived nice and rare in the center with some baby carrots to the side. I didn't notice any of the advertised fried sage leaves, but the 3 peppercorn butter melted over the charred flesh and mingled with the blood rare juices, and we all couldn't get enough. Cooked on the bone it was irresistible to Steve who had to pick it up and gnaw down to the last last bite.

A huge Apple wood Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich on grilled ciabatta with aged balsamic barbecue sauce, herb slaw, peppercorn tartar & crispy sunchoke chips $11, arrived next. This was a delicious sandwich, that made you wish you'd wormn overalls as it is a mess to eat [in a good way].

A large porcelain urn was set down before us. When the lid was taken away it revealed Maxwell’s Cioppino $15. Usually Cioppino signifies a tomato based broth, but this broth was clear & full of clams and mussels. It also had Dungeness crabmeat in it and I could also make out pieces of salmon, but beyond that, it was hard to tell-- as the fish had either sat too long in the steamed broth, or been overly stirred – rendering it to kibbles & bits. This was the only disappointing hot dish of the evening.

Later a couple of desserts arrived: a classic vanilla bean crème brûlée $6 was delicious with little scone -like biscuits served to the side and the raspberries tasted like summer.

The Hazelnut Cake with chocolate ganache, and morello cherry sauce $6
The hazelnut cake was seriously dry. It seemed like it wanted to be a pound cake as it seemed buttery, but the dryness prevented it from being good. I couldn’t tell if the dryness stemmed from being over-baked, or from being chilled in the refrigerator too long. Also the ganache layer was too thick. I think with some tweaking this could be a winner.

Apart from the Cioppino, and the one dessert the meal was FANTASTIC , the food came out super fast and all items were hot and tasty. I would say, given the first night jitters. I would give them an A+++

A superb first night performance Matt Colony!
Thanks Troy for the invite.
Great job, Cory.
Good to see you again Cody.

It was an honor and a privilege to be on hand.
454 St Helens Ave
Tacoma WA 98402
PH 253-683-4115
Information on Bergevin Lane wines


Nick said...

Congratulations to Maxwell's!

walt said...

The Filet Mignon is the best I've had anywhere. I will always spend the money and buy that meal first and formost. The $10.00 Martinis are excellent. I had to have two.
Havnt heard if there's a Happy Hour or not. I see they are giving GRAND Theatre tickets away with meals purchased.
It's a 5 STAR for Maxwells.


Anonymous said...

Gawd, who cares?!?