Ever is the newest venture for Chef Curtis Duffy and his business partner Michael Muser, opening in 2020. Duffy and Muser had previously collaborated at Avenues at the Peninsula Hotel and Grace. Ever offers an 8-10 course tasting menu and has already received 2 Michelin stars, being on a rocket trajectory toward 3. The exterior has an exterior sign that blends well into the wall and inside the gray tones blend well with the shiny black tables and light wood dividers. The large bare tables are well spaced and sound dampening in the ceiling keeps the noise level low with light music playing in the background. Lights are lowered in the very tasteful room. Tons of service personnel work to bring out dishes in unison and be on top of any needs. Wine and non-alcoholic pairings are available for the menu but we chose to order our own wines from the large list. The menu is a surprise but they gift you with a copy of the night’s menu as you leave. The pacing and portion control were both excellent, no lags and no rush. The food is all beautifully presented.
The first two courses came out together on a plate of pine branches and rocks. Razor Clam was mixed with pineapple, soy and carrot top. The great sweet pineapple contrasted nicely with the chewy briny clam. Also on the plate was caviar with hijiki (brown sea Asian vegetable), celery root and nasturtium in a cup with dashi shaved ice and accented with some tarragon syrup. The white sturgeon caviar was excellent and the cup held an array of wonderful tastes and textures. This was a real winner.
The next course came out as a capped jar filled with butternut, duck, jalapeño and verbena. The duck confit worked nicely with the smooth butternut squash and some pickled cauliflower. When you pulled off the top, applewood smoke filled your nose and underneath the lid were several drops of flavor you were to lick off. Some little white balls were in it that added a fun crunch to this good dish.
Bay scallop with cucumber was underneath the thin crisp sugar tuile holding the sudachi (Japanese green citrus), trout roe, coconut and lemon balm on top. You needed to crack the sugar and mix all the ingredients together. This is a classic of Chef Duffy. The perfectly poached scallop was wonderful with all the other flavors and the tuile added a fun sweet component to a collection of textures.
Frozen Japanese Hamachi was plated with finger lime, ginger, black rice pudding and blue basil. Here the fish is flash frozen in nitrogen and it naturally curls into a ribbon like thing. You could see the texture when you cut into it. This was a very interesting and fun dish.
The butter plate came out next with a pretzel twist and a promise of a special bread designed to go with each of the next several courses. The butters were one that was a traditional cultured variety accented with black cypress salt and the other an herbed butter. Both were nice but I preferred the plain one. The twist was nice.
The course designed to go with the pretzel was a braised pork cheek with chestnut purée, Buddha’s hand, Cipollini onion and celery topped with crisp fried parsnip. The pork was amazingly tender – it could be cut with a fork, no knife needed. It was great mixed with the chestnut and other parts. A wonderful dish.
A pumpernickel roll was selected to go with pan-roasted lamb loin with black olive, coffee, frozen mandarin, frisée and a piece of lamb belly. This is a new addition to the menu. Both cuts of lamb were excellent and really tasty. The mandarin was packed with flavor and made a nice temperature contrast to the wonderful plate.
A sundried tomato foccacia was made in a Taiyaki machine (Japanese cake cooking press). It didn’t have a strong tomato flavor but it was really good and I almost finished it before the course to go with it came out. Halibut was plated with black garlic, Yukon Gold potato, crispy proscuitto and endive. The potatoes made a perfect accompaniment to the delicate fish. Another good one.
A porcini mushroom Madeleine came out hot to go with the next course. It was so buttery I was already happy. It went with Miyazaki A5 Waygu beef with smoked coconut, hon shimeji (East Asian brown beech mushrooms) and sorrel. A number of pickled items were also on the plate. Alongside was a raw piece of the beef with a crisp chip and a leaf of black mint. The beef – in any form – was excellent as expected but there were almost too many flavors on the plate for me to process well, but heck just eat the meat.
Black walnut, passion fruit, plantain and citrus lace were surrounded by a ring of frozen yogurt. It was not too sweet and really different. A good transition to the sweet side of things.
The first dessert contained chocolate, stout, pear and sweet potato leaves. A chocolate mousse cake was topped with Japanese pear and on the side were smears of fig. It was fun and tasty.
Second dessert was Perigord truffles, roasted banana and truffle salt in an egg shell. It was a banana milkshake infused with a ton of truffle flavor and a touch of salt. It was to drink and really good.
Lastly a molded tray held Key lime gels, dark chocolate crispies and pumpkin caramels. The chocolate was good but the caramels were my favorite. I didn’t care for the lime gel.