Ringing in the New Year

January 11, 2009 at 10:29 am 4 comments

Short Rib and White PolentaNew Year’s Eve has never been my type of holiday.  For one thing, I have a pathetic inability to stay up past eleven o’clock at night, let alone into the wee hours of the next morning.  My weakness is only compounded when copious amounts of champagne are part of the equation.  I also live in New England, and don’t particularly like driving, walking, or even standing around in icy sub-zero temperatures, and New Year’s activities here generally involve some combination of the three.  

Despite my reluctance, I have been rather adventurous in the past — skiing in the French Alps, hiking to the top of an isolated cow hill in Vermont, and revelling with hundreds of international bohemians on a beach in the Virgin Islands.  And some of those times, I even stayed up until midnight…  My plan this year was to just stay home with my new husband: drink some fine bubbly, maybe watch the ball drop, maybe just watch a movie.  Honestly, it wasn’t all that important to me to participate in some blow-out party.  Then a friend of mine said that dreaded line: “Oh, you are so married.”  Kiss of death for a 26 year old.  So to appease everyone and to convince myself (however briefly) that I am not a complete dud, I decided to find something to do on the last evening of 2008.

Since the one thing I do love about New Year’s (and life in general) is the champagne, I began from that premise.  What goes with champagne?  Good food!  So after a good deal of scouring for last minute reservations, we finally decided upon a restaurant in Groton, Massachusetts called Gibbet Hill, which was having a special New Year’s Eve tasting menu, complete with the bubbles I so crave.  

In tribute to one of the first New Year’s Eves in a long while that I have remained awake and coherent until 2 AM, I thought I would give a review of the delicious meal I enjoyed at Gibbet Hill with my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, their significant others, and RJ.

Our meal began with an amuse bouche of beet pannacotta and pork pate with house-made pickles:

Amuse Bouche

The beet bite was a lovely blend of textures, and quite beautiful to look at.  The pannacotta was a bright pink!  It was unfortunately a bit unwieldy – we all had trouble keeping the beet disk and the pannacotta layer together from the plate to our mouth.  The pork pate was rough and country – in a good way – and the pickles added a lovely counterpoint to the rich and meaty slice.

Tuna App

For the appetizers, we had three takers of the celery root and chestnut veloute with cranberry syrup, one order of “orange-cured” tuna sashimi, and one beef short rib with polenta.The only disappointment here was the tuna.  Though the fish was very fresh and had a wonderfully smooth, melting texture, the flavors just weren’t there.  I think salt was the primary missing ingredient, but I also felt that the orange segments were not really in flavor harmony with the tuna.  Worse than the orange, though was the celery hearts on which the tuna lay.  I put crunchy celery in my canned tuna salad, but not with my fine sashimi – yuk!

Celery Root and Chestnut Soup

The soup was very rich and had a nutty, almost woodsy taste to it – the cranberry was immediately overshadowed by the thick and creamy bisque.

Short RibThe big hit of this course was the short rib.  RJ, of course, was the one to order the beef appetizer – “it’s a steak house – I’m going to eat the steak. Twice.”  This was one of the best preparations of short rib I’ve seen in a while.  The interior of the rib was perfectly cooked and seemed to dissolve on the tongue.  However, it appeared that the rib had also been broiled right before serving, resulting in a crispy and crunchy exterior with a welcome bite.  The polenta was creamy and cheesy and converted RJ to a new starch product.

chateaubriand

For dinner, RJ split the Chateaubriand for 2 with his mom’s boyfriend, Roger.  It was served sliced up, alongside roasted cipollini onions, pommes Anna (pan-roasted potatoes) and a marrow bone.  Sorry for the picture – the boys had already attacked it!  As you can see, the steak was overcooked (they ordered it medium-rare).  The onions and potatoes were delicious, as was the “sauce rouge” served alongside.  But overcooked steak at a steak house??  A sin like no other!ddddd

Sirloin

On the upside, the sirloin that RJ’s brother Brian and his girlfriend Erica split was perfectly cooked as ordered.  This entree was great because the meat itself was fabulous.  I guess RJ has a point about ordering beef at a steakhouse…

Pork confit

The rest of us ordered the Confit of Lucky 7 Farms Pork with roasted loin, lentils du puy, chanterelles and root vegetables.  I guess the roasted loin was in the saucy mixture to the left (or perhaps they were referring to the confit, which may have been made of loin).  On this dish I was divided – right down the middle, actually!  On the left was a rich, stewy mix of pork belly, chanterelle mushrooms, root vegetables and butter.  Ohhhhh, was there ever butter!  That sauce was I-want-to-take-a-bath-in-it good.  Or, as RJ would say, “If they made a toothpaste of that sauce, I’d brush my teeth with it.”  Wordsmith it as you will, but that was some pork goodness.  On the right side of the plate, however, was a dry particle-board textured square of pork confit, topped with a slice of crispy skin, and the least flavorful lentils I have ever tasted.  I love lentils, and these just tasted bland – as if they hadn’t been seasoned at all.  

Apple tart

Since it was a prix fixe, I ordered dessert – even though I did not have a square centimeter of space left in my stomach after the pork!  The tart, from what I was able to taste, was really good – light and airy puff pastry with a good ratio of pastry to apples.  

Over all, I did like Gibbet Hill.  I think they did a good job with creating the menu, which did not incorporate any of their regular offerings (save the signature chocolate cake).  The restaurant is also very globally conscious – the ingredients are often organic, free-range, or heirloom products, and the freshness really shines through.  I think that RJ’s point is a good one – though he meant it in more of a self-serving way, since his diet mostly comprises Beef 24/7 – it is always smart to order according to a restaurant’s strengths.  While the tuna wasn’t great at this restaurant on a farm, the beef dishes were excellent.  As for the champagne…I have another rule.  Never settle for the free glass of “champagne” on New Year’s.  Nine times out of ten, you’ll get a sweet prosecco, or an overly-bubbled cava.  Spring for a great bottle of French champagne – that will get anyone into the celebration mood!

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Entry filed under: Review/Opinion. Tags: , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. charlie  |  January 11, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Haha I can’t believe Foxy’s has a website. Looks like you had a great NYE! Hope all’s well out east.

    On the subject of short ribs, I braised some in stout and onions the other day after putting them in the broiler for a few minutes under a little red wine vinegar and whole grain mustard – it was delicious!

  • 2. KK Millet  |  January 12, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Hey Charlie! I don’t think anything can top New Year’s at Foxy’s… I’m up for it next year, if you guys are.

    I just LOVE short ribs too. So many good ways to prepare them!

  • 3. Joooolie  |  January 13, 2009 at 7:36 am

    K, I love your blog. I love your writing. I love YOU. Seriously, I smile ear to ear reading your blogs full of absolute deliciousness.

  • 4. steak recipes  |  April 11, 2012 at 2:09 am

    I really enjoyed the site. That is nice when you find something that is not only informative but entertaining. Excellent!

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