Now that they’ve been open several months we wanted to re-visit Carte Blanche and see how it’s evolved, and I’m happy to say they’ve made some positive changes to the place and menu. It’s more subdued inside with lights from the kitchen being dampened by a partial shield and curtains added for the front windows. Parking out back is now well marked, there are way more people in the kitchen, the wine list has greatly expanded, flatware is delivered by servers (instead of the roll up) mellow music is in the background and the interior bar has lost the rail and hanging baskets. It’s a lot of little things but they all add up to a more elegant and softer ambiance all while providing excellent service and delicious and beautiful food. Put it on your list to visit Carte Blanche and enjoy the tasting menu of Chef Casey La Rue’s dishes.
Everyone starts with a moist towel to clean your hands. An elegant touch.
The amuse bouche was a trio of a wild rice cracker with local goat cheese, candied lemon / melon gazpacho mint / Peter’s Creek oyster with finger lime. The oyster was from the Prince Edward Island area and delicious with a wonderful flavor in the bite. The cracker made a great textural contrast with the cheese and melded together well. The honeydew gazpacho had lighter flavor than the other two but was very good with sweet lovely chunks of melon inside.
Escolar Crudo was in a citrus and passionfruit liquid. Here were wonderful strong flavors to combine with the mild fleshy fish. It made for a very tasty combination.
Foie Gras Mousse was plated with a black mission fig on apple foam and smoked fig preserves alongside a cultured butter croissant. As before the croissant was excellent – buttery, flakey and amazing. The mousse consistency was much more to my liking this time and well matched with the wonderful fig preserves. The apple foam was tart for me but no matter the perfectly smooth mousse was fine alone, with the preserves or on the croissant. A good one here.
An optional upcharge course was Kaviari, Kristal, Caviar with a scallop in seaweed broth. Chef La Rue was kind enough to send it out as he knew Frankie really loves caviar. The silky scallop went perfectly with the luscious caviar, both highlighted by the creamy broth. This was one that made you want to lick the bowl clean.
Grilled Eel was topped with lemon poppyseed gastrique and served with eggplant purée. Topping the gastrique were edible marigold leaves. The eggplant was smooth as butter and excellent when paired with the eel. The eel was well flavored and perfectly cooked with added texture from the seeds and chives. It was an interesting combination that really grew on me.
Wood grilled Swordfish was with salsify purée, topped with smoked trout roe, on a sauce of meyer lemon and pumpkin seed oil. The swordfish could have been cooked a hair less but when blended with the lovely sauce and/or poppy roe, it worked. Another good one.
Grilled Wild Boar Belly was plated with charred octopus, smoked pearl onion and grilled cherry tomato with romesco purée. This one really got the sides of your tongue singing. All the pieces were very good but overall there wasn’t much color variation in the dish. It was still tasty but one of the lesser courses.
Smoked Chanterelles were with burgundy black truffle in a truffle butter, served at room temperature. You couldn’t tell where one stopped and the other stepped in but together is was rich and delicious. The mushroom flavor was stronger than the truffle’s but the texture was fun and I loved it.
Texas Elk was presented in many ways. First was as tartar in a marrow bone with Meyer lemon, crispy garlic, daikon and horseradish. It came with a cup of smoked bone broth with spices. The elk had nice texture but mild flavor however the garlic chips added much. The broth had tons of stuff in it, like cilantro, daikon and radish. It was very dark and tasty.
A roasted elk loin was with daikon and turnip purée alongside a pastry and all on a bordelaise sauce. The tenderloin was very tender and nicely cooked. The pastry was exquisite filled with morell, greens and elk – My favorite on the plate.
Blood orange sorbet sabayon was a palate cleanser. It was very good and a nice transition.
Chocolate Cremeux with hazelnut and banana consomme was the first dessert. A flourless chocolate cake was the dark portion and it had good strong flavors. The cremeux was harder than I expected but the various ingredients did have good texture and color contrasts. Good.
Passionfruit Meringue Pie was with vanilla anglaise and pistachios. This was a yummy little pie in a different shape but underneath was buttery cake/crust topped with strongly flavored fruit cream and covered with meringue. You couldn’t lose with this fine one.
Mignardises were 3 flavors of bonbons. The dark chocolate encased passion fruit and orange fillings. The milk chocolate held caramel and you don’t have to wonder which was my favorite – caramel of course.