Recently, my wife had a birthday (another one! :-P), so I took her to Plumed Horse restaurant in Saratoga to celebrate. Yes, I'm one of those guys who takes photos of food... don't judge me.
Gorgeous evening, gorgeous wife.
The interior was rather interesting, and spacious. The overall comfort level was extremely high (not surprising, given the Michelin star).
We ordered the tasting menu, and we were pleasantly surprised at the number of items that were included that weren't "officially" part of the menu. This little item was a cannoli with (I think) salmon inside. Clever play on a Sicilian dessert.
Official course #1= oyster (on the left, without the half shell), with California caviar and lemon essence.
My wife will only eat oysters if they precede the word "Rockefeller," so she had the tuna tartar with a jalapeno sauce (the restaurant was very agreeable to substitutions, which we appreciated). I greatly enjoyed my oyster course, but my wife's was even more outstanding.
An unannounced course = a rabbit-based dish with an apricot (and something?) spread, with quinces. I really enjoyed this, especially with all of the flavors mixed together.
The way of the future = wine lists on iPads. We talked to the maitre d' about this (in favorable terms), and he mentioned that the savings to the restaurant is considerable. Even if one wine changes on a paper menu, they all must be reprinted for several hundred dollars. The iPad solves that.
My wife selected a 2009 pinot noir from Loring Wine Company. After my wife sampled it, it was brought to us in this decanter. The service was so attentive that we didn't need to pour for ourselves at all when we were getting low.
Onward with the tasting menu = Alaskan black cod with mushrooms, etc. Quite good. The fish is the center item (the mushrooms, etc. were sliced in such a way that I actually thought they were the fish, before I bit in).
A gnocchi dish, with a delectable sauce. This photo makes it look much smaller than it really was (not to say it was huge). We were given the option of shaved black truffles, which we took after this photo was taken. That option cost $10 each, for the record (which wasn't advertised). ;-)
The final savory course = filet of beef tenderloin, with a potato (at right) shaved to resemble bone. Housed inside it was a piece of bone marrow. I realized I'm not a big fan of bone marrow, though it apparently has many health benefits. The item at left was good... so good that I've forgotten what it was! Onion, perhaps...
I believe two desserts were advertised, but we received FOUR. This was an unannounced one, like a palette cleanser in ice cream form.
Three spoons?!? Yes, we would use all three.
One of the announced desserts = more ice cream, though a different flavor. An apple slice is at center, which was deliciously prepared, and at left was something delectable that I can't recall exactly (I just know I liked it).
My wife received a birthday candle on the plate of her third dessert, a chocolate based one.
Here's my candle-less dessert. :-) The orange fruits exploded upon impact, which was more delightful than it sounds.
Fourth dessert! A medley of sweets and chocolate sauce (though we left it alone... mostly).
Manuel, the maitre d', took us around the restaurant once we finished our meal. This is their well-known wine "vault," which is easily seen by guests walking to their seats.
Notice the floor we're on.
Plumed Horse has three stories on which they house wine. Directly beneath us was a drop of two stories. Not something we noticed until Manuel took us inside the vault.
Manuel, explaining how wines are organized for access (I didn't pay attention, unfortunately).
Inside the kitchen - though you can't tell from this photo, a small army works behind the scenes.
Manuel has been with the restaurant for 25 years. It's had a Michelin star continuously from 2008 until the present (it retained it for 2014, as was just recently announced).
My wife wasn't used to so much wine post-pregnancy. We actually started the evening with champagne from Manuel's champagne cart, and we received complimentary champagne by the bar at the end of the night.
The chef, Peter Armellino, is at the right with his back to us. Wide angle lenses aren't good for paparazzi shots.
Verdict = a perfect 10 / 10. Despite the expense, I already want to come back here. There were no missteps in the food, the service, or the atmosphere; on the contrary, everything was precisely executed while still coming off as natural, unpretentious, and inviting. Well done, Plumed Horse.