Birthday dinner

For my birthday I went out to dinner with my family.  It was reallllly good.  Prepare yourself for a long winded detailed description of it.  We went to Steenbock’s on Orchard.  This pretty little dish was the amuse, and it was phenomenal.  I probably could have eaten 10 of these.  It was a shrimp salad on a tiny brioche crostini, and it was full of flavor.  It was possibly my favorite part of the meal.This amazing looking creation was the field greens my parents ordered.  The greens sit inside of a potato basket and are topped with a yuzu foam.  It was probably the prettiest thing that came to our table.Next my husband and I had the heirloom tomatoes.  Underneath the tomatoes was a mixture of Crème fraîche and burrata cheese.  There was a tiny bit of balsamic reduction and tomato pesto on the edge of the plate.  The tomatoes were drizzled with olive oil and topped with micro greens.Our next course was the poached egg.  It was served with a hefty portion of perfectly crisp pork jowl, chicken, baby asparagus and a garlic cream.  Although not listed on the menu I’m fairly certain there was a purée of potatoes underneath it all.  The egg was perfect poached.  The waiter mentioned early on that the menu features a number of items cooked via the sous vide method, which if you are unfamiliar means cooking something in a plastic bag submerged in water.
For this course my parents had the agnolotti pasta.  It was served with crawfish, peas, tomato and truffle butter.  I made the mistake of not tasting this course.  I think I was too focused of my perfectly poached egg.  If you are not familiar with agnolotti, get with it.  Like right now.  Agnolotti was the first recipe I made from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry cookbook and it was amazing.  You simply can not beat fresh pasta.  Especially when you knead it yourself.  For 30 minutes straight.Up next were the entrees.  I had the halibut.  The chef decided he didn’t like the corn that night so he changed up the preparation from the menu.  It was served with greens, and topped with kalamata olives, capers in a slightly smokey chipotle sauce with a hint of a kick.My father had the red snapper.  It was served with calamari and clams, in a tomato saffron nage, which was poured table-side, as were most of the sauces.  The waiter described the flavor as similar to bouillabaisse.  My dad devoured it, so I’m guessing it was pretty good.My mother had the Fountain Prairie Farms pork loin.  It was served three ways but I only vaguely remember what they were.  I’m thinking it involved some sort of pork belly, some sort of sausage like patty and a piece of seared pork.  The madeira sauce was pretty tasty.My husband had the chicken breast.  It was served with rainbow chard, parsnip purée (which I’m pretty sure he thought was mashed potatoes, mushrooms and a garlic jus.  I ate the leftovers of this dish the next day for lunch and it was just as tasty.  That jus was sooooo tasty.Finally we had dessert.  One of our servers (we had two the whole evening) recommended the s’more.  After looking over the menu I decided to go with his suggestion.  It was a deconstructed interpretation of a s’more that was pretty tasty.  It somehow ended up looking a little odd in this photo, but trust, it was gorgeous.  They even put birthday candles to keep the piece of smoldering wood that it is typically served with lit.  There were smaller pieces of house made marshmallow and one larger piece, sat atop a chocolate ganache.  The server told us about how the chef sometimes switches the ganache up, alternating between a typical smooth consistency and a slightly brittle ganache.  There was a small brownie which had a lava cake like center.  There was vanilla bean ice cream, which developed an almost caramel like flavor with the other components.  There was a sprinkling of a graham cracker crumble as well.  I probably could have eaten this whole portion myself.  Can you tell I like dessert?  I was nice and shared with the table.  The staff was nice enough to comp the dessert for my birthday.This odd photo is a shot of one of the many interactive monitors in the building which houses Steenbocks’s.  It is in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery on the UW Madison campus.  A new high tech building, which many interactive features seems both an odd and fitting choice for this restaurant.  Clearly the chef uses molecular gastronomy along with traditional techniques.  The location however, is slightly odd and a bit difficult to locate unless you are looking for it.  I wonder if this fact will hinder their business, but being part of food fight maybe they don’t need to be as busy as a individual start up.  I quite enjoyed the experience, the service was the best I’ve seen, only comparing to the service out at Milkweed. I felt like our servers really cared if we had a good experience and were incredibly knowledgeable and always perfect with the timing.  They offered up interesting tid-bits of information without having to be asked and knew the answer to every question we asked.  I would go back to this restaurant any day and highly recommend it to anyone looking to try something new.  It made my birthday dinner feel special and the food made me a very happy girl!

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