Virtus is a good sized place with soft lighting and background music. The couple that ran Clandé, Chefs Chiho Kanzaki and Marcelo Di Giacomo, changed the name to Virtus about a year ago and then moved to a new space about a month ago where they moved in many of the same decorating fixtures into this location. You’ll find a variety of chairs and light fixtures that were stylish points at casual Clandé. Virtus seems to be a bit more upscale, with well spaced tables and a separate bar area that also includes some seating. They offer a 7 course tasting menu priced at a point to challenge anyone from using the a la carte ordering items. Portion control runs on the slight side and the meal pacing started nicely and then slowed to a crawl and fell apart as the restaurant got full.
An amuse bouche of oysters with pineapple and cream was good. The enhancements worked well with the plump briny oyster. Oddly the servers picked up the serving bowl but left the shells on our bread plates for several courses.
A small coil of hot bread is brought straight from the oven made by the pastry chef. It is meant to have the shape of an artichoke, which is the Virtus logo. It was an incredible bit of bread. Buttery, rich and oozing with flavor and wonderful texture. I could have made the meal on this alone but it seemed odd as a portion in a dinner.
Saint Jacques scallops were mixed with turnips from Émilie et Vincent with a cream of turnip leaf and a little lemon. It all worked spectacularly. The tender turnips had absolutely no bitterness and were delicious.
More bread but this time it was just regular brown bread. A bit of a let down after the first offering.
An egg was plated with chanterelles, Jerusalem artichokes, an emulsion of chanterelle and a barley risotto. The barely cooked barley risotto was at the bottom. Some great flavors here that all blended nicely. Crispy bits of garlic mixed well with the bite of the barley and then the yolk added to the creaminess of the risotto. A fantastic dish with crispy bits of garlic and the bite of the barley to give it good textural contrast. The egg yolk added a creaminess and richness to the risotto. Wonderful!
Monkfish was the fish of the day, served with watercress sauce, turnips, and celery root purée. The fish was barely cooked and really wanted a richer sauce. The purée was slightly sweet and didn’t have as much flavor as it needed to balance the dish. It was a okay just not on the level of the previous ones.
A nicely rare piece of beef rump steak was touted as something special but it was amazingly tough and tasteless. One of the pieces was a third fat, which might indicate goodness but not so here. It wasn’t dry; it did have a juiciness but didn’t pick up any flavor of grilling or roasting. Served with a carrot and a dot of balsamic vinegar, it needed those flavorings if you could cut it. The carrot was nicely sweet.
The cheese course included cow and goat cheeses, a comté and a blue cheese. We split one portion. They were all fine.
The first dessert was kiwi, curry ice cream and coconut cream. The curry was a nice twist in the seasoning. It helped bring the tastes together into a nice mixture. It was good.
Apple, sorrel cream, sage powder and yellow sorbet were the second dessert. The sage was an odd flavoring to mix in and not all together successful. They did have some thin, crispy chips to add texture but overall it left a dry sensation in the back of your mouth and was not a good sweet fix.
Last treats were strawberry jelly, coffee cream puff with caramel topping and chocolate strawberry. They were all okay, none outstanding. This couple is capable of better things – maybe with more time.