What ought I to write about our dining experience? First off, not only the food but also the drinks that arrived at our table all tasted absolutely sublime. Gorgeous Husband took one of the special cocktails of the day, vodka with pear juice, passion fruit pulp and something-or-other else, I don't remember what exactly. I accepted a virgin version of the same drink, which arrived in what looked an awful lot like one of the water glasses I was trying to persuade Gorgeous Husband to buy during our most recent visit to Ikea - i.e. clear, simple-looking and, according to him, just that tiny bit less than ideally stable. As a general rule, I am not much of a fan of mocktails, the entire concept of which appears to me to be flawed in a manner that's too unashamed to be worth discussing. This one made for really quite a pleasant pre-dinner drink, however, reminiscent of but oh so much more delicious than the pre-dinner splash of orange or grapefruit juice that used to be served back in the days before either the tetra pak or the electric home juicer had been invented.
Next to arrive was a dish of Macaroni and Cheese served with crayfish, black truffles and cheddar cheese sauce, one of 13 'big plates' on the menu and a dish that could only have been designed by a chef who couldn't give a toss how many calories it contained provided it tasted good. My one complaint would be that it could have used something to contrast the creaminess of sauce covering the macaroni, a few smartly dressed salad leaves or something along those lines. The inclusion of crayfish and black truffles made for an interesting twist on an old standard, and wherever The Disgruntled Chef gets its cheese from, the cheddar had a good strong flavour to it. The waitress had mentioned that just about everything on the menu is designed for sharing, and I honestly don't know that I could have enjoyed such an intensely flavoured dish all by my lonesome; it might have been too big for me, I think. As it happened, we ran out of Mac and Cheese having eaten more or less exactly the quantity of it that we each wanted to and moved on to our second 'big plate' selection, Smoked Chargrilled Ribeye, which arrived together with a side dish of Andalusion Cauliflower.
I had heard of Andalusion horses before now, but never of Andalusion Cauliflower, which, as it turns out, is a fine starter or side dish coming from the officially recognised autonomous community of Andalusia, a region of Southern Spain. Lightly flavoured with capers and parsley and very pleasantly crispy, Andalusian Cauliflower is most definitely something I intend to try to cook at home. And it was the absolute most perfect choice to go with the melt in your mouth, 365 days corn fed ribeye, all 500 grams worth of it. It was at this point during the meal Gorgeous Husband and I fell to discussing whether, when it comes to beef, a chef's primary function isn't simply to avoid over-cooking a super high quality and therefore highly expensive cut of meat. Ultimately, I don't think it is though. Yes, I do know one or two amateur cooks who, assuming they were able to find the same quality of beef as the professionals are able to access, might pull off both the ribeye and the cauliflower as separate food items. I don't know a lot of people who could pull off anything so subtle as The Disgruntled Chef's port wine sauce, however, and it was the port wine sauce that pulled those other two elements together into a single, sensational eating experience. 'Yum' doesn't begin to cover it.
Dessert was also exceedingly yummy. Indeed, having to wait some 15 to 20 minutes whilst a single portion of Chocolate Fondant was being prepared just for us allowed us a bit of breather during which we could each finish of our glasses of wine. Not having to order a whole bottle of wine worked pretty well for us, and I got to enjoy a nice Pinot Noir for a change. The Peanut Butter, Banana Brulee provided an interesting twist, and Gorgeous Husband sat there smiling indulgently as I barely restrained myself from licking the plate clean, I so like chocolate fondant. Without having a single bad word to say about any of the dishes we were served, having raved about each and every one of them, in fact, I must say I wasn't altogether surprised to notice that The Disgruntled Chef has achieved an aggregate score of just three and half stars both at Hungry Go Where and at Trip Advisor. For all that the food is delicious and the atmosphere very cosy, had I been left to decide how much I thought the overall experience was worth, I would have to quote a figure closer to $200 than to the $280 we were charged for two big plates, one side dish and just the one dessert shared between two people. I feel a tad churlish even mentioning this; maybe the truth is that $200 doesn't buy as much as it used to and I should get over thinking of the place as 'expensive for what it is' and into thinking of it as 'an affordable alternative to those restaurants that seem to discourage sharing even if patrons don't want to eat a whole three courses each'. The food is as good, if not better than I've tasted in some places where I'd expect to pay $500 or more. In other words, I'd like to give it five stars but, rather than accidentally mislead anyone, I'm going to give it four and a half for now with the intention of going back to sample the lunch menu before finally deciding whether that's too high or too low.