It was one of those rare cold rainy nights when we ventured into the welcoming fold of The Palomar Hotel. The blazing fire in the lobby set the warm and comforting tone for the evening. As we moved through the lounge at BLVD 16, we no longer felt as though we were in a hotel, but rather a very cozy yet stylish neighborhood watering hole.
As my eyes moved across the menu, foodie buzzwords we all know and love came to mind: “farm to table,” “seasonal,” “chef-driven” and more. Blaine, our guide for the evening, spoke of Chef Richard Hodge’s relationship with local growers and his ability to source the freshest, most responsibly raised foods. There is a reason why this approach to food is becoming more prevalent – because it’s delicious.
The next thing that struck us was the attention to detail in the presentation, beginning with the bread and shaved butter. Before my mother and I could fill up on it we were treated to a procession of ‘shareables’ we could only describe as a symphony of textures.
A slate slab of pan-seared tofu, Cambozola cheese and mango wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber sat atop an artful smear of beet mousse, accompanied by a grilled pear salad got us started on the right note. My mother described it as the perfect balance of “sweet and spicy” and was grateful for the cooling effect of the pear salad.
There is only one thing better than a goblet of olives – a goblet of warm olives dramatically resting on its side. They considered our needs by providing a spoon to help fish out the favored plump green ones. We then focused our attention on the spicy, lightly battered but slightly greasy Calamari with lemon cayenne aioli.
As I sipped a very floral Gewürztraminer by way of Santa Cruz, a crisp “ham and cheese” flatbread swooped in. Composed of Prociutto cotto, Mission Fig jam, Cambozola and arugula layered atop a crisp cracker-like base, the classic combination of sweet and salty had my mother repeatedly singing the word “amazing.”
The true star of the evening was the cauliflower salad – a Mediterranean-inspired harmony of crispy garbanzo beans, oft-overlooked celery hearts, red grapes and harissa vinaigrette. So outstanding I attempted to recreate it at home but managed to miss the mark.
We next shared an entrée of grilled salmon nestled in a veritable garden of parsnip purée, charred rapini and mushroom bordelaise. Brussels sprouts with bacon and slivered almonds kept us from feeling overly healthy. The evening ended harmoniously with a brûléed Banana Mille Feuille made of layers of custard and pastry.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.