Friday, November 30, 2012

Chimay Blue Cap Grande Reserve/David Burke Prime Steakhouse 3

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So apparently a trip David Burke Prime Steakhouse is my new post poker tournament ritual, making getting knocked out by idiots who don't know math or strategy rather more palatable.  I try to pick new things each time I go, having the bartender (I always sit at the bar) make suggestions on the food.  I pick my own booze, but I have gotten a "thumbs up" on the choices I make each time.  I have had the same bartender, "Tim" each time, and he has yet to steer me wrong.

Chimay Blue Grand Reserve, in a wine glass
Having thoroughly enjoyed my first experience with Chimay Brewery beer, I decided to go with it again, trying the Blue Cap Grande Reserve despite its (extremely) hefty price-tag.  At $25 for a 750ml (aka wine) bottle, it is definitely not a beer for the cheap, but it's honestly almost like drinking four beers, at just over 25oz and 9% alcohol, and it really isn't a bad deal if you think about it that way.  A light (in feel, not flavor), slightly sweet, crisp beer, it was a great choice.  My first impression was it just flat out looks good, with a rich caramel color, which is actually borne out in the taste, and a thick, tall head that slowly dissipates into a light lace that covers the entire surface of the remaining beer, rather than simply clinging to the edges.  It smells of fruit and grain (as beer should), and you can taste just a hint of caramel and fruit in the beer.  This ordinarily would not be something I'd be interested in, as I despise most "sweet" beers, but this is no Blueberry Beer or Raspberry Hefeweisen; it is a hefty, strong, beer that is a perfect example of why Trappist monks are so famous for the goods they sell.  Despite its high alcohol content, for someone who is looking to try some higher quality beers this may be a good introduction; it is not the least bit bitter, and the alcohol does not come least until you finish the whole bottle and then wonder why the damn hallway keeps moving!  Really though, this is one of the best beers I have ever had, and highly recommend it.

Double-Cut Maple Pepper Bacon Strips
For dinner I once again went with the prix fixe menu, as it really is a great deal and I figured the beer was expensive enough.  At Tim's suggestion, I tried the Double-Cut Maple Pepper Bacon Strips, three giant strips that are probably five times thicker than standard bacon, served rather cleverly hanging from what looked like a tiny clothesline.  It is a huge portion, and I felt pretty well stuffed after finishing it, but I wouldn't change a thing.  Glazed with maple syrup, it was sweet, fatty, and succulent, leaving me craving more in spite of my stomach's protestations to the contrary.  The pink peppercorns are a bit heavily applied, and I brushed most aside, but they added both a nice snappy bite and a really great peppery flavor, without the overly spicy taste of a full corn of black pepper.  I would like to try making this at some point, because quite honestly I don't think it would be difficult; it seems to just be slow cooked pork belly, but exceptionally well done.  Once I get through all the options on the appetizer menu (I've only got three more to go among the prix fixe choices) I'll definitely be coming back to this.

Braised Short Rib Stroganoff
Since I had yet to try it, Tim suggested the Braised Short Rib Stroganoff, which was offered topped by a truffle sour cream that was to die for.  The short rib itself was slow braised and falling apart, but after the the short rib at Bouchon Bistro, it was hard to appreciate this one.  It was certainly tasty, but it was a little dry, and lacked the absurdly rich flavor of Bouchon's; maybe it's unreasonable to expect anything else to match up to a Thomas Keller creation, but it's very tough not to compare the two.  The rest of the dish was more successful for me, with housemade (I presume) cavatelli, succulent wild mushrooms, and, again, the truffle sour cream.  The cavatelli had just the right amount of tooth, and were perfectly dense, so as not to feel overwhelmed by the creamy, beefy sauce it swam in.  The mushrooms were not remotely overcooked, a problem I think most of us have encountered at restaurants (and our own homes, for that matter), instead maintaining their natural plumpness.  The sour cream was coolly refreshing with a rich creaminess that only added to the sauce.

For dessert I didn't pick something new, since the only option I hadn't had was a chocolate cake thing that quite honestly doesn't interest me in the least, sticking with the last trip's success and the crème brûlée, which was just as good as last time.

There was one negative to this trip, as the couple sitting to my right at the bar were exceptionally loud, profane, verbally abusive towards each other and the staff, and quite simply offensive.  I don't mind profanity (in fact, my friends would inform you that I'm quite a big fan of it at times) but this was not only overboard, it was really uncomfortable, including references to physical violence between them that I'm pretty sure foreshadowed the remainder of their evening together.  I asked Tim's partner, a lovely young woman who along with the remainder of the staff, was forced to put up with their verbal abuses and rudeness, if they were regulars, and she said that not only are they there at least once or twice a week, this behavior was normal, or even good for them.  The manager came around to ask how my meal was, and I asked him about it as well; he said they can't really do much since the two are "high rollers," so be aware this could be an issue for you.  If so...good luck.

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