Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saltoro Splendor

One of the greatest pleasures in life is sharing a meal with friends. Last Saturday I did just such a thing with two of my nearest and dearest. They took me out to dinner as a belated birthday present to a local restaurant called Saltoro.
It was ‘girls night out’ since my partner was out of town visiting her family. My friends, Lo and Shtup, picked me up at my house and promised to drive so I could drink. :o) They showed up in velveteen top hats (which aren’t real until they’re loved according to Lo’s husband), sunglasses and feather boas, holding a set for me. We were decked out for a night on the town.
Seated in our booth, we got to the most important thing first...cocktails.
Lo went for a classic Manhattan, Shtup had their Basil Grande (vodka, muddled basil and strawberries, splash of cranberry juice), I had their Peach Ginger Cosmo (just what it sounds like...a little sweet for me, but tasty). I think I liked Shtup’s drink better than mine. It was sweet, but not cloyingly so. The Peach Ginger Cosmo could have used a splash of lemon to brighten it up a bit.
Then the food started in. First, an order of their truffle fries, a gigantic pile of shoestring potatoes tossed with truffle oil and parmesan. Dark, dusky truffle and salty, creamy parmesan atop perfectly crispy fries. I had to have the waitress box them after we’d eaten half because I just couldn’t stop. The next morning I had an egg scrambled with some of the leftover fries crisped in a skillet. They were equally delicious the second time around.
We ordered salads for a second course, the Saltoro Salad (Lo and I) and the Spinach Salad (Shtup). The Saltoro salad was comprised of greens, citrus shallot vinaigrette, Point Reyes Blue cheese and toasted slivered almonds. A tasty salad that would have been even better with some grilled skirt steak.
The Spinach Salad had an anise vinaigrette, proscuitto, pickled onions and little nuggets of crumb-crusted, fried goat cheese. Shtup was kind enough to get the prosciutto on the side. She’s vegetarian, but didn’t want to deprive us of the whole experience. It was quite delightful...I will certainly have it again!
I thought I was done eating...but they had other ideas. Lo ordered a small pizza with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and an order of butternut squash ravioli in a mushroom cream sauce. The ravioli was tasty, the creamy squash filling balancing the earthy mushrooms. However, it was oddly under-seasoned, unusual for this restaurant.
I had but one slice of the pizza...I was so full by that time. It was good, and it was nice to have some fresh tomatoes. But again, the flavors seemed a little flat.
With all of those delightful flavors, we drank a tempranillo, Finca Antigua 2005. Dry, a little tannic, some cherry notes.
Of course, since this was a ‘birthday’ celebration, we had to have dessert. We ordered a chocolate pots de creme and a fallen chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream melting on top.
The custard of the pots de creme was dense and silky, the cocoa flavor present but not overpowering. I could still taste the cream and egg underneath, which is what I love about custards.
The fallen chocolate cake didn’t really look like a cake at all, except for the candle sticking out of the top. *g* It was a gratin dish full of rich, hot, chocolatey goodness. I wish I hadn’t been so full because I wanted to eat it all...the chocolate was dark and velvety and delicious. The vanilla ice cream was also rich and delicious, but I would have been happy without it. I want the full-on chocolate experience. Maybe next time. :o)
For all the great food, the best part was sharing it with good friends. By the end of the meal, Lo was the only one still wearing her hat and glasses. The meal over, we put our feathers back on and waddled out of the restaurant under the weight of the fabulous dinner, buoyed by the joy of sharing it with friends.
Thank you, Ladies, for a merry and memorable evening!