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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Baker & Banker

“Your party will be dining at our special Chef’s Table.”

What I envisioned: A posh, private, and ultra swanky dinner in a posh, private and ultra swanky secret location.

What we got: An arguably posh, semi-private table set up in the restaurant’s adjoining bakery that you have to tromp through the dining room and kitchen to reach.

Okay, so I didn’t mean that to come off as snarky as it did (and who am I to talk, since my only previous private dining experience has been at the Pope’s Table at Buca di Beppo). In truth, the delicious food, cozy atmosphere and warm service at Baker & Banker made for one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time.

To make sure we reached the chef’s table minimum (which was $750), my dining companions and I ordered their 8-course tasting menu, with a few adding on the wine pairing as well. And for the next 3 1/2 hours, the gracious chef and friendly waitstaff delighted us course after course with exciting food, warm hospitality and great conversation.

Maybe I can blame it on too much Top Chef (oh wait, that's Judges Table, not chef's table) but as I said, I was expecting something a little more that a table set up in its only-open-during-the-day bakery. Still, it was a cozy, charming space with lovely, lingering bakery smells, and hustle and bustle of the pastry chefs busily preparing desserts nearby.

It began with a spicy tuna spring roll amuse bouche and then went on to a delicate, flavorful butternut squash soup. Next came a rabbit sausage and foie gras salad with lentils (tasty, but perhaps not my favorite way to enjoy foie) and seared scallops with chanterells and brussel sprouts.

Speaking of Top Chef, there were plenty of Top Chef moments, including duck confit with smoked almonds, dates and some kind of foam, and a chorizo-crusted flounder in garlic saffron boulibasse, Israeli couscous and fried parsley. There was definitely a lot of wow factor going on here.

My favorite dish was the soft, tender and melt in your mouth wagyu beef that was served with winter vegetables and short rib canneloni. Or maybe it was the dessert of custard filled lemon meringue donut holes which was an amazing combination of some of my favorite things.

The chef (Mr. Banker) brought many of the dishes to our table himself and both he and our server, Brian, made us feel at home while serving us these beautiful, delicious dishes that felt truly special. Our last dish was a spiced apple sorbet that was brought to the table and doused with sparking wine before serving.

So despite my prior snarkiness, I can say nothing but good things about this dinner, which turned out to be one of my favorite dining experiences ever. And that pie-in-the-sky notion of a chef's table I had seems so not the point after thoroughly enjoying myself here.

But I'm still a bit curious. Has anyone else out there had a memorable chef's table dining experience?



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