CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS
A quick escape to the Cape is exactly what I needed after this last couple of months of intense work and pressure. Even right now as I write this, I am in the grand dining room at the Chatham Bar Inn, overlooking the water while I wait for my Jonah Crab toast for breakfast. I am not here to tell you about Chatham Bar Inn though but instead about Chatham Inn, a Relais and Chateaux property. Well really here to tell you about dinner at Cuvée, the restaurant that was onsite and how divine and delicious the experience was. First off, you can never go wrong with a Relais and Chateaux property for staying so when my travel designer suggested that I have dinner there as well I said yes without a thought. The attention to detail and the almost choreographed movements that they displayed from seating to serving to entertaining and closing was absolutely exquisite.
They were very welcoming with the manager and various staff members coming to say hello throughout the meal. They offered me reading material which honestly was a first for me. I declined at first but when the manager pointed out that this book was a guidebook of all the Relais and Chateaux properties around the world, I quickly changed my mind. After browsing through the reading material for a little bit, I was presented with the menu. The menu was a four course pre-fixe and I did, for the first time in my dining career, have hard time picking what I wanted to eat. This took me back to my early days of dining out where I was so perplexed that I would just ask for the tasting menu. Such fond memories of that time I must say. In this case though, as there was no offering of a tasting menu that encompassed all dishes, I had a very strong and lengthy deliberation in my head of what to order. The biggest decision truly was on the first course. It was a difficult choice to make between the foie gras and the burrata. Normally, I would say foie gras without a thought but this was on a brioche and I truly am trying to scale down the waist measurement that has significantly increased over the last couple of months. So I settled on the burrata followed by the Spanish octopus and the A5 wagyu to end the meal. I can never say no to an A5 especially when it is a grade twelve which is the best there is. I had initially thought I would get a glass or two of wine but given how excited I was by the menu, I opted additionally for the wine pairing.
When the snacks from the kitchen came, the first thing I noticed was the very clear similarity of the plates to those of Le Bernadin. I would know since I eat there every week after all. The snacks presented were three in count and were an asparagus over quinoa with olive oil and lemon, an English pea croquette and a rhubarb pop with a cream foam. Let us start with the asparagus, I found it to be fresh and a welcome opening of the palate almost like a palate cleanser. Instead this was to welcome you to the meal as opposed to being between courses. The next was the English pea croquette which was my favorite. It was placed on a sweet based sauce but I am not overly sure what was in it, nonetheless, it was an absolutely phenomenal bite. Finally was the rhubarb pop which I found to be a fun experience to eat. It almost said “party time” on the palate as you enjoyed it then contrasted with the savory flavor of the foam. I loved this as well.
While I was enjoying the snacks, the bread was brought out. Hello critical test of the meal! There were two of them, a brioche and a blueberry slice. I loved that the bread was warm and when paired with the very heavily whipped butter, it was to die for. I leaned more to the brioche of course and even as it cooled it was still incredibly divine.
Now it was time for my first course. It was as I mentioned earlier, the burrata from Brooklyn, with a very heavily toasted brioche piece laid atop, strawberries, and a small dollop of honeycomb. The honeycomb was harvested on property and I can most certainly attest to its freshness. There were green and red strawberries where the green strawberries were pickled and the red strawberries are fresh. I always have a problem with red strawberries in the US as they are always tart and I do not have the faintest clue why. This was not the case here as the strawberries very closely took me back to the strawberries, I had in Versailles when I was walking through one of the open markets. The prosciutto that laid beneath the burrata was just perfectly fatty and melted right on the tongue and that paired with the burrata and olive oil was an amazing combination to savor. My favorite combination of this dish was the pairing of the burrata, strawberry and honey, I could honestly have had that for dessert again and would have been a very happy diner.
Something that I completely loved and appreciated was how simple their dishes were. Sometimes when you are in fine dining institutions and they introduce the dish, it can be somewhat overwhelming but that was not the case here. It was minimal ingredients that were seasonal and fresh whose combinations showed how simple combinations at the hands of a beyond competent and talented chef can outshine complex combinations and sometimes theatrical presentations. The next dish was the Spanish octopus with spring onions and frisée lettuce. Chef most definitely captured the essence of Spanish octopus with this plate. My favorite part was the onion combination with the octopus. I think these were cipollini onions but I cannot be sure as it was a little bigger than usual. The octopus was succulent, tender and the knife would just slide right through like butter. This plate was paired with a Pinot Noir (a favorite combination of mine by the way) and it was a magical and impeccable pairing to enjoy. Speaking of the pairing, the sommelier was so nice, knowledgeable and a delight to enjoy in conversation and while he poured his wine pairing selections. I raise my glass to him in grand cheers.
At this point, I was expecting my A5 wagyu but instead I was informed that I would be getting an extra course from the chef. This was absolutely pleasing to me, not only because it was an extra dish that I did not order but also because it was a dish that I was contemplating ordering as I looked at the menu earlier. This was the agnolotti pasta stuffed with sheep’s milk and topped with mushroom and English pea shoots from the garden. At this point, I noted in my head that there was a heavy leverage of English peas in the menu as a whole. I found this to be quite delightful as this is actually not an ingredient that I have explored extensively in my kitchen at home. As far as flavors go, this was beyond amazing and there truly are no words to describe the work of art that I enjoyed while eating this. The pea shoots were the most notable component of the plate and they really did steal the show of the plate. I noted in my head that they have a fully functioning amazing garden that is in full bloom and they leverage everything from it incredibly well.
Finally I got my A5 wagyu that I was drooling for and it was paired with a Saint Emilion Coravin pour. The plate was grade twelve A5 wagyu steak with oyster mushrooms and a conical pomme dauphine on the side. This steak is SERIOUSLY fatty, quite dangerously so really. I think I felt a heart attack coming on as a ate this. Now my mother owns an oyster mushroom farm in Nigeria and I noticed that while theirs were fresh, there was no comparison to my mothers’. The combination with the steak cut through the fat, a balance that I was truly grateful for. Finally, layering in the potato and we have a food orgasm fit for any human being lucky enough to enjoy this plate.
I had a rum cake pre-dessert but I was really full at this point so I do not really have notes for what I thought of it. That is an unfortunate thing that happens with me which is that the fuller I get, the less I am able to process in my head what I am tasting. Finally for dessert, I had the strawberry tea cake. It came with a brown butter crunch which was absolutely amazing. I found that the cake took a few seconds to settle on the palate but the texture play of soft cake versus brown butter crunch was absolutely amazing. This was paired with a moscato which I initially had my reservations about since I do not drink sweet wines. Interestingly enough though, the sweetness of the wine was actually cut down when enjoyed with the cake. This was really quite tasty.
Well this was the end of my meal at Cuvee and I very much cannot wait to return to the Cape where I will most certainly pay the restaurant a visit.