Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sybaris February 2008

Mary and I went to a restaurant in Albany for her birthday. I know, a nice restaurant in Albany, my pre-conceived ideas were about to be challenged. Still, the menu looked intriguing: Sybaris February 2008

The atmosphere was pleasant, especially as the light dimmed (which helped make the large space feel more intimate). The restaurant rotates art from different, local, artists every month, which is nice. But on to the food:

First of all, we loved our waiter. He was the only waiter there, and has worked for the chef for 14 years (including the 6 years Sybaris has been open). He loves his job and it showed. He explained a number of the dishes very eloquently and accurately (as the menu sometimes had brief and/or mis-leading descriptions). The only problem with service was there was only one of him (a hostess showed up about half-way through dinner), so he was a little short on time at each table. Our water was always full and empty dishes were promptly whisked away, I'm not sure how he did it all.

Then there was the food, I started with a Manhattan which was nice, nothing fancy, though the martini glass had a curved stem which I found awkward. Mary really enjoyed her Cabernet (I don't remember the vineyard).

We were both pretty hungry so we started with the appetizer:
smoked pheasant quesadilla with chipotle cheddar
and a toasted cumin sour cream

It was small (we were forewarned), and tasted fine. I personally couldn't tell the difference between pheasant and chicken. The smoked meat was moist and tender, it didn't taste very smokey. The cumin and chipotle flavors blended well. Overall, it was nice, but it certainly did not stand out.

Our waiter thought tis salad was their best (of all the salads they make through the year), and he described it well enough to pique our interest:
romaine with a passion fruit vinaigrette (for 2)

I know, sounds mundane, but wow. The salad was large enough for 4, and while it looked like slightly wet romaine lettuce, it tasted vibrantly of passion fruit. We both really enjoyed the crisp, watery snap of the romaine and the bold passion fruit. A big thumbs up from both of us, this was a dish we'd both love to have again.

Mary chose the
roasted partridge breast with oregon mole and
leg meat tamale tower
and I had the
buffalo and wild boar meat loaf with wild mushroom
sour cream gravy on hominy mashed potatoes
The mole was slightly sweet (made with prunes) and just a bit spicy (from the peppers) but very rich (from the cocoa), and it paired beautifully with the salty tamale. Mary wasn't very inspired when she first read the description, but she decided hers was better than mine.

My meatloaf was the size of my fist (large), and very tender and tasty. The gravy blended with the meat flavors well, though I had hoped for a little more mushroom flavor (and a few actual mushrooms). The mashed potatoes were delicious, but I couldn't tell there was hominy. I did enjoy the dish very much.

Because it was Mary's birthday, they brought out a little dessert (on the house) with a candle - the
butterscotch pudding
. We thought the flavor excellent, but the texture a bit grainy. We were also hoping for the peat smoked shortbread that was mentioned on the menu, but it was not to be found.

We did order the
chocolate ice cream, peanut butter ice cream terrine with bananas foster
Mmmm.... the ice creams were divine, and the bananas foster delicious - the caramel was perfectly sweet. I wanted to lick the plate.

I think we'll be heading back to Albany in the future - the menu is probably more interesting than anything we've had in Corvallis.

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