Au Courant offers a 6-course chef’s tasting menu that changes weekly. Chef/co-owner Benjamin Maides works with local producers to find and feature the freshest ingredients. Maides partnered with local restauranteur Carlos Mendez to open Au Courant in Nov. 2016 and now “Chovy” Caniglia is the Chef de Cuisine with “Barnie” Barnard serving as Sous Chef. They serve some really fine food. It’s a long space with the front half taken up by a U-shaped bar surrounded with stools. Art and mirrors decorate the unfinished walls on either side and lots of plants are everywhere. The high tin ceiling has lighting that was pretty bright and then turned down midway through out meal. The small tables are topped with marble and set on an old wood floor. They have an a la carte menu at the bar whereas the dining room is offered the tasting with an optional addition of oysters on the halfshell. They also offer wine pairings. We got a half dozen of the oysters and our own wine. One quirk was that you could buy a ’round’ for the kitchen and then they’d ring a bell in back.
Oysters with mignonette were from New Brunswick. The small oysters were topped with the mignonette so they could be eaten from the shell. The tart and pungent flavor was wonderfully fun.
An amuse bouche was baba ganoush and feta on a sesame cracker. The eggplant topping was heavy on the red peppers and the crackers thin and crisp. The feta was mild in this tasty start to the meal.
Chovy’s egg included crispy lentils, ramps and carrots. The half egg was on carrot purée and topped with salsa verde. The lentils had been sprouted and then fried to a wonderful crunchy state. They were the star of the plate. This dish had lots of flavors and textures that made your mouth happy while eating and afterwards.
The second course had 2 choices, so we each had one. Ceviche was with striped bass (even though the server that brought it out called it tuna) and included fennel, cucumber and jalapeño then topped with crispy shallots. It was quite spicy and needed some salt. The balance was a bit off but it did have good textural contrasts.
‘Ensalada Rusa’ was made with pomme (apple), pea and speck (ham). The ‘potato salad’ had the peas on the bottom with a few pieces of potato that were topped with apple slices and then slivers of speck ham. It was a good balance of flavors and ingredients and the better of the 2 choices.
Cavatelli was served with fava bean, mushroom and guanciale. The butter guanciale sauce was accented with bits of fried guaciale. The lion’s mane mushrooms were tasty and tender and wonderful with the perfect rolls of pasta. This was a really excellent course – nicely balanced and full of flavor.
Striped Bass was on spinach, ramp, radish and pickled rhubarb with a hollandaise sauce. The chunk of fish was perfectly cooked – moist and delicious. The wonderful crisp skin that had no fishy flavor and instead was great with the rich sauce. The vegetables underneath just all melded in together to produce a near perfect plate of food.
Strip was beef alongside parsnip, spring onion and egg custard. A sunflower cracker topped the onions and the parsnip was in a brown butter purée. The meat came out a nice rareness but was not overly tender. All the sauces on the plate helped with flavoring the beef. Some meat jus was in the middle of the plate and also livened up the meat. It ended up being a tasty plate.
Coconut Rice pudding was mixed with mango, lemongrass and ginger. Some rice paper was made into a crisp chip and placed on top. The pudding was more gluey than creamy but the mango was excellent, sweet and flavorful. Overall this one was good but needs work on the texture.
A final treat was a plate of dark chocolates filled with orange. The centers were really liquid but the outsides were quite crisp. They were cold which was different. It was a good ending to a fine meal.