Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pierpont's in Four Courses

Stella had her choice of Kansas City for her 30th birthday dinner (a week late, we actually went to Buffalo Wild Wings with the kids on her actual 30th birthday). She chose Pierpont’s, one of our favorite restaurants where we ate a lot when we were courting and I believe we went there on our 1st anniversary. We’ve been back a couple of times since then but I think only for drinks and dessert.

She chose Pierpont’s mainly because of the 4 course tasting they have right now. For $30 you get a 4 course meal made up of small plates. We each got to choose an appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert. For $20 more you can get a wine pairing with each course. I don’t know if that means the sommelier* will pick out a wine for you or you get to pick your own wine with your course. I would prefer the sommelier.

*My favorite sommelier experience happened at Pierpont’s about 5 years ago. The sommelier was trying to do recommendations for a table of older people that were not very wine savvy (to be kind). He had them try a merlot, something real accessible just so he could get a gauge of what they enjoyed. None of them liked it and he asked what they’ve had before that they enjoyed. One of the older ladies hemmed and hawed and asked her husband something to the effect of “what was that wine we had that time, white something?” The husband didn’t know and the sommelier asked “white zinfandel?” The lady said “Yes, that’s it, it was so nice, I think it was Sutter Home”. I thought then (when I wasn’t that much more wine savvy than the people at that table) that sometimes it must really suck to be a sommelier.

Stella had made reservations for 5:30 so we could make the 7:15 showing of “Funny People” at the AMC Mainstreet. Stella loves making reservations but I always find it funny that we have reservations and the restaurant is only half full (at best), but she doesn’t like to leave things to chance. We got seated in the main room with the bar on the other side of the divider. I’ve never sat in there before and would prefer to not sit in there again. The main dining room or downstairs are a lot quieter and more intimate. The bar area is loud and people are always walking by.

Our waitress got us our menus, informed us there were no off menu specials and told us about the 4 and 5 course tastings. We told her we were going to get the 4 course tastings and she tried to sell us on the crab cakes for the appetizer. We had 5 choices for the appetizer and all sounded appealing. I love crab cakes and Pierpont’s makes great ones, the lobster firecracker sounded great, mussels were definitely an option, calamari was probably my last choice just because I can get calamari almost anywhere and it doesn’t do much for me. But, I’d never had beef Carpaccio and I like to try new things at quality restaurants that I trust. If I really like the item at the good restaurant I can add it to the list of things I can order at restaurants I’m trying. It’s a good way to expand your palate.

I chose the Carpaccio and Stella chose the calamari (which she’d never had before). The Carpaccio was pretty good, I have nothing to compare it to, but I enjoyed it. I suspect I would have liked the crab cake more but the Carpaccio pleased me. It came with about 6 slices of the beef tenderloin, spinach, parmesan, truffle oil, red onion and some basalmic with 3 little toasts slices. Stella’s calamari had a real light breading and was flash fried and came with a really good horseradish cream sauce and a tomato coulis that didn’t have much flavor. The best part of hers was the fried spinach leaves. The calamari was really tasty as well.

For our salad course, I chose the grilled pineapple salad and Stella did as well. However, when ordering Stella pronounce pineapple salad “spinach salad” and by golly she got a spinach salad. It should be noted that the waitress will bring you the food you order, not the food you meant to order. I was a little disappointed in my pineapple salad which had baby greens, crisp prosciutto di parma chips and raisins in addition to the pineapple. The salad was great when I got some pineapple in my bite, but there were only 4 cubes of pineapple in the salad so I had to ration it. If the pineapple had been cut into smaller chunks I would have enjoyed the salad much more than I did.

For the entrees, I got the lamb chops continuing my streak of only ordering lamb and pork at fine dining restaurant. I really love lamb chops, the best ones in KC (that I’ve had) are at Il Centro. I had some reservations about the lamb chops at Pierpont’s because I didn’t really want cannellini beans and swiss chard as a side. The asparagus and whipped potatoes that come with the Filet Oscar were more up my alley that night. But I’ve had the Filet Oscar a bunch of times and was in the mood for something new. Stella talked me into the lamb chops pointing out that it’s stupid to order an entrée based on the sides. Stella got the lobster bouillabaisse which sounded great in its own right.

I was right to be wary of the cannellini beans as they kind of dominated the plate. When you’re getting small plates, you want to eat everything on the plate and the beans ended up being a little much for me. They were fine, I’m just not that big a fan of the cannellini. The lamb chops weren’t that great but I blame myself because I ordered them medium instead of rare, another case of the waitress bringing us what we ordered instead of what we meant to order.

Stella’s lobster bouillabaisse was astoundingly good. It was filled with mussels, shrimp, white fish, scallops and, of course, lobster tail in a tomato-chardonnay broth. If I were a fish this is how I’d want to go out. I want to go back to Pierpont’s just so I can have more than the one bite of this that I got that night. If they’d let me, I’d like to climb into the pot they make it in and bathe in it. I don’t know when the next time we’ll make it to Pierpont’s for dinner, but I have a new favorite dish there that I need to experience a full serving of.

For dessert I got the white chocolate bread pudding. Desserts don’t do much for me, but I do really enjoy bread pudding and Pierpont’s bread pudding is one of my favorites. It even has a bit of flair with it as they pour Bacardi 151 over it and light it on fire. It’s not often you get to see your food on fire. Stella got a chocolate caramel peanut butter torte which sounds like it’s got too much going on already before you consider that it comes with fried plantains, apricot coulis and banana lissi (which is like Shatto banana milk). My bread pudding had a melba sauce and was topped with a couple of peach slices. It was all delicious except maybe the plantain chips which didn’t have much flavor.

I was pretty happy to learn that one meal at Blanc and one meal at Pierpont’s got us to the $150 mark on my KC Originals card earning me a free $10 at any KC Originals participating restaurant. Both meals were well worth it. Pierpont’s left me a little disappointed overall, but I think with some more attention paid to ordering correctly and getting the lobster bouillabaisse all of my minor disappointment will be washed away.

As a side note, I’m going to be going back some time in the next week to try the $5.95 steakburger with parmesan steak fries. That is a really good deal for a good steakhouse burger.


winedoofus said...

Bull: You are one funny guy. Very entertaining (and informative) review.

Anonymous said...

I believe this "4-course tasting" is always available, and was formerly known as the prix fixe. They must've dumbed down the name for the masses...If you're willing to shell out enough money for a Pierpont's dinner, you may as well go this route, it is well worth it.