Sunday, May 24, 2009

SLeeK Lobster Extravaganza

I had the most amazing fine dining experience ever and it's hard when you don't have anyone to share it with. So I figured this way I could share it with a world full of strangers! hehe

I recently started chatting with STLWineGirl on Twitter and Facebook, who spent five years in SF in the food/wine industry, and is also a sommlier. So I have the ultimate respect for her knowledge. Every time she posts about a wine, I always try to reply back with a cheese suggestion. But she knows cheese pretty well and could probably school me in that too.

Anyway, she tweeted that she was looking for someone to go with her to a special dinner that SLeek was having for their anniversary. SLeeK is a fine restaurant in the Lumiere Casino that is located on Laclede's Landing, on the Mississippi River, downtown St. Louis. It is definitely the classiest casino in town...plus it is the newest casino. I had been to the Burger Bar, where they serve Kobe beef hamburgers, which I believe SLeek was created by the same chef. Chef Keller.

I volunteered to go with her to SLeeK, not thinking she'd take a total stranger seriously but she was really needing someone to go with her.

Now this is something I know I would normally never get the chance to do. Ever. This kind of restaurant for this kind of special night to spend this much money drinking that much wine. Wow. It was nice for one night to live like royalty. What's really funny is that when you're in the industry, it's quite normal. I tried to look like I did it all the time. hehehe

Rusty, the general manager, looked like a rock star. The hostesses looked like his groupies. But he was all business. And he knows his business. Rarely is the GM out front either! Impressive. Rusty also shared his beliefs on service. It just seemed like common sense but really...how many restaurants struggle with it! Rusty said he enjoyed City Diner due to the quality service of his favorite waiter. That really stuck with me.

This definitely was my first time for a 6-course meal. Each one building on the other. I was lucky to have STLWineGirl with me to pick out the wines but it actually turned out to be quite difficult because certain things were full bottle only, half bottle only, and by the glass. We were trying to get half bottles and pair our glasses with the food but it was difficult to time it all. The white wines weren't chilled enough so that threw the timing off. Probably would have been easier with just three glasses of wine, especially since we fell behind.

The first three courses were the decorative portions as I like to call them. We started out with the Canapes...the one that stuck out for me was the Lobster Corn Dog. I dipped that in some spicy mustard and it was a little party in my mouth. hehe I definitely would have liked more than just the bite. I was trying to find something else to dip into the mustard too! There was a strange Lobster bisque that came in a test tube...kudos for the unique delivery but was relieved that the waitress explained that you could sip it or chug it. Since it was hot at first, I just sipped. Delightful. Definitely could have used more as well.

Unfortunately, our courses came out of order and we jumped to the Lobster Cappuccino. I thought it was more Lobster bisque with a slightly heavier flavor. It was quite filling so I definitely wish it had come later. My friend STLWineGirl accurately guessed that the side dish was a Corn Madeleine...it was perfectly shaped like one. So cute! I dipped mine into the Lobster Cappuccino, which I slowly sipped like a cup of soup.

The most beautiful decorative plate was the Symphony of Lobster. I couldn't taste much lobster in the four adorable items on the plate, but they were more for the eye. My favorite was the baby lobster ravioli. the pasta was so thin and shear, like a jellyfish. Almost like a mini-dessert were two watermelon dice...with the Creme Fraiche filling in. Almost too cute to eat anything on this course but of course I did.

Then the courses started to get more serious...next was the "Thermidor". It was half a lobster cut long ways (so clever!) with the toppings on one half and the meat down the other half. I thought how wonderful it was to get to the lobster meat as opposed to having to crack open one of those suckers by hand (which I did for the first time a couple of months ago). I certainly could get used to this fine treatment. I went a little crazy and tried hard to scoop out all the lobster meat still stuck to the shell since the meat inside was so good. STLWineGirl explained that they make good use out of every part of the lobster!

Of course the best part was the Surf & Turf. The Lobster Tail with a Petit Filet. I would have been thrilled with just this portion since it was the largest and meatest. And the lobster mashed potatoes...heavenly. I definitely wanted to lick the plate on this one.

And then there was dessert. There was no lobster in the dessert but I was fine with that because all four items were CHOCOLATE! While I was in love with all the desserts, I definitely had the BEST chocolate mousse EVER. So light and fluffy, yet full of sweet chocolate flavor. Happy mouth time for sure.

I wish I could talk about the wines but that is STLWineGirl's area of expertise. I hope to link to her review sometime. She even took pictures of all her meals so I am hoping there is even further evidence of my amazing dinner.

The real cherry on top was getting to meet Chef Keller himself. Such a gentle and kindhearted man. Very generous with his time. I cannot wait for him to come back!