Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A festive (if delayed) repast.

When you have a group of 10 for Christmas, there's only so much cooking you can handle. That's why, for dinner on Christmas Eve, my motley crew of family and friends headed to one of my favorite, most reliable spots: Ouest.

We arrived a bit early and ordered a round of drinks. Sadly, the bar was out of the brown butter-infused bourbon I'd so enjoyed a couple of weeks ago, so I ordered a plain old Manhattan, straight up. Nick sprang for the Oue-side, a new sidecar variation that turned out to be a bit too sweet - sad, too as it's so awfully pretty (evidence above).

Our table for 10 wasn't ready until almost forty-five minutes after our reservation time, which was a problem mostly because we had a church service to make later in the evening. However, despite this snafu, I have to commend Ouest's staff for whisking us through dinner without sacrificing quality of food or service - and for buying our wine and desserts. They definitely made up for the issue.

The most popular first course at the table (I think three of us ordered it) was a new menu item. It's a bone marrow dish, but one unlike any I've had before. The bone marrow was removed from the bone and seared, which turned it into a crisped nugget of gooey goodness, and the bone was filled with a creamy, sweet short rib and onion marmalade. While I still see a place for the traditional bone marrow and parsley combo, I have to say that this version was absolutely delicious.

Jeremy ordered one of my long-time favorites, a crispy duck egg served atop a few razor-thin slices of smoked duck breast, some greens and a healthy dose of aioli. Crunchy, meaty, smoky and garlicky, it's a dish that simultaneously satisfies multiple cravings.

For my main, I went with another old standby - the squab with duck liver risotto. It it always fantastic, and Christmas Eve was no exception. The squab was perfectly cooked to a tender medium-rare, and the risotto was creamy but retained that essential bite - after all, it's not porridge, people!

Many folks stayed for dessert, but I and a few others hopped up and out to make it to church on time (I go twice a year, so it doesn't do to walk in late, you know?). Marrow, squab and Christmas carols - what more could a girl want?

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