We last visited Oriole in Nov. 2018. Opening in 2016, Chef / Owner Noah Sandoval’s restaurant has 2 Michelin stars. They still offer only a tasting menu of contemporary American cuisine but their site mentions an extended tasting also. Optional wine pairings are available. The first difference we noticed was the entrance – which is now through an open gate on the corner of the alley-like street. You still stay in that admitting area for a drink before being taken through the sliding door to the restaurant. Inside has changed a lot with a bar area now opened up where you have your first bites and a drink. From there you proceed to the kitchen, which is now a huge open space. You have a counter there where you also have a bite and a glass of champagne. After that, you are finally taken to your large, white cloth-covered table with music in the background. I’m not a big fan of having to rove around while you’re eating, maybe because it’s hard to take notes and photos, but I like to get settled and soak in the experience. The staff is first-rate with our main server, Celeste, being a wonderful part of our time there. They do present you with a ‘menu’ when you’re finished.
At the bar we were served a rhubarb spritz to go with some A5 tartare on a tempura nut chip topped with coriander. The thin crisp chip was lovely with the tender, well-seasoned beef.
The second snack there was an Hokkaido Scallop with Koshihikari rice. The bite was wrapped in seaweed which unfortunately was stronger than the delicate, mild scallop and just gave it all a fishy flavor. Not a favorite.
At the kitchen stand, they poured a French Crémant to go with some Hudson Valley foie gras with blueberries. A blueberry gastrique further brought out their fabulous flavor. A brioche underneath carried this delicious combination to your mouth. I didn’t hear a lot of the other ingredients cause I was too busy looking at the ceiling that was covered with posters.
Now at the table the tasting continued with some Golden Kaluga Caviar paired with Heritage tomato, lemon and tomato vine oil and a green tea sabayon. The caviar was delicious but dwarfed by the wonderful tomato flavors. Even so, this was a great dish. The nice thing about starting elsewhere was it gave the sommelier time to have our wines ready at the table.
Porcini custard was paired with tarragon, black truffles and ginger. This dish had excellent flavor and a grand melding of tastes but the broth was a tad salty which detracted from the overall effect.
Next course involved several dishes. Some toasted puffed brown rice was topped by a seared piece of Black Bass. On other plates were a fried summer squash blossom topped with white fish roe, Japanese Milk Bread and butter. The fish was cooked perfectly but again the saucing was salty. The tempura blossom was fried to a good crisp without being greasy. The milk bread imitates a blossom where you pull off a petal and drag it across the butter accented with walnuts. Those 3 were all fine.
Capellini was in a creamy sauce topped with shaved Australian winter truffles. The great news is that they were really filled with truffle flavor that was outstanding with these fine strands of pasta. A very yummy dish, where I was glad to have some bread leftover to mop up the remaining sauce.
The server brought a fresh wasabi stalk to the table to grate some into a paste to put on the Japanese A5 Wagyu beef. It was served with a bit of broccolini and beef jus with Madeira and mushroom. The always excellent piece of ‘beef butter’ did not disappoint and it was nicely accented with the wasabi. Alas, the jus was on the salty side so best left on the plate.
The transition course was called ‘Rock’. It was made with stinging nettles, balsamic meringue, bergamot sorbet, longan (stonefruit) and elderflowers. An interesting collection of ingredients with a mostly sweet flavor and including a variety of textures.
The first dessert was a black sesame soufflé filled with Délice de Bourgogne (French cow’s milk cheese). This was a fun combination of sweet and salty mix that went equally well with red or white wine. From the Lincet Fromagerie, the cheese is a triple-cream cheese and made an excellent filling. This one was very good.
The last dessert was yogurt, rhubarb consommé, candied rhubarb, fermented mint and anise honeycomb. The icy combination was decorated with Flox flowers. It had lots of textures and was loaded with flavors, but odd in appearance. They brought a glass of Tokaji, a sweet wine, to enjoy with it.
Final treats were 2 bon bons. The green was a dark chocolate with ginger, Maitake and spruce oil. It was a good mushroom flavor. The caramel color was a white chocolate with strawberries in a pink pepper gastrique. The strawberries were divine and this one would rate a yummy.