Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Taste test: Meson G (now closed)

I have a short article on small plates in Friday's VLife Weekend, but I haven't gotten around to posting reviews of the places I tried yet on the blog. I'll start off with Meson G, the restaurant owned by the Aubergine people, which had some spotty reviews as well as chef changes when it first opened. Here's the post I did for Chowhound, which unfortunately had to be removed because apparently they had some trouble with shilling from the restaurant. If that's true, that was certainly poor judgement on the part of Meson G!

OK, caveat is that I'm pretty sure they don't know I write articles and publish a blog, but not 100% positive. We sat at the counter overlooking the kitchen so we could watch the action -- it's pretty comfy for a counter. The design is beautiful, especially the bar areas with the zebra carpeting. First, they brought us an amuse of a small corn puff filled with warm corn soup -- delicious, I could have awhole bowl of those instead of popcorn to snack on. We ordered about four plates and the first one, hearts of palm salad with almonds arrived with a nice sashimi dish we didn't order...on the house, the server says! It was raw fluke with heirloom tomato and watermelon...not entirely sure about the tomato/watermelon combo, but an interesting experiment.The hearts of palm salad was nice and refreshing, and offered a healthy counterpart to our other meatier, fishier dishes.Then our Maine diver scallops arrived, very tasty little critters but served with not-very-interesting spinach. We saw a platter of soft shell crabs being prepared -- normally since it was "Big plate Tuesday" they only do four crabs at a time at $55 a platter -- we begged and they give us one on a plate with a nice garlicky romesco sauce. Crispy and perfectly cooked, and it never appeared on the bill! Then we had the striped bass with sauteed arugula...the least successful dish, tasted like some fish I would quickly broil with some bagged spinach for an easy dinner at home -- no discernible flavor other than decent quality cooked fish. Kathy liked the veal hangar steak more than I did, although the sunchokes accompanying them made me vow to investigate this little-used vegetable further. The veal was tender but not as flavorful as a lot of other steak I've had lately.

We couldn't decide between the cheese plate and a dessert. The server overheard our indecision, and although we chose the molten chocolate cake with caramel ice cream, he brought us a (yet again!) comped mini-cheese plate. Very nice cheeses, including a yummy French triple creme, a Tallegio, etc. with small dots of fruit preserves. The ice cream didn't have that distinctive caramel flavor I crave, so I'm afraid the dessert rates as just ok.

The verdict: I guess for the most part the small plates didn't really blow me away compared to AOC or Orris -- either the combinations were a little too ambitious, or they lacked a punch of flavor. But the restaurant was certainly generous, and it was fun watching the kitchen action. This would be a good place for a date, or to bring people from out of town...hopefully people who will be paying for you.
Total was $120 for four small plates, dessert, four glasses of wine...about the same as AOC, I guess. I hope everyone who eats here gets such special attention -- perhaps it was because we were the only two people at the counter.