Yesterday afternoon, a few of us went out for a fancy lunch feast at Campton Place (it was part of the Dine About Town going on here in San Francisco). Traditionally, it's supposed to be a 3 course meal for lunch, but lucky us, we managed to swing a 5 course meal plus a little tidbit to see us on our way.
So how was the lunch, what was the decor like, and most importantly how tasty were our SEVEN AND A HALF desserts? To find out,
Campton Place is one of those fancy restaurants located in a hotel off of Union Square. Its cuisine is best known as "modern American" and the decor is exactly what you'd expect: classy, if not somewhat stuffy (aka, this is the kind of place you want to take your grandma for brunch).
When we arrived they whisked our coats away, sat us at a lovely round table, promptly wheeled over a champagne cart (Party has some great coverage about the champagne) and whisked out a basket of bread.
Since it was Dine About Town (which sadly ends today), there was a fixed menu that consisted of: Celery Root Soup OR Sashimi, Tai Snapper OR Chicken with Watermelon Radishes, and dessert. I ordered the sashimi and snapper, Party ordered the soup and chicken.
Now I know that appetizers generally are smaller portioned, but when the tiny pieces of sashimi arrived on a GIGANTIC plate, I was a little taken aback. The enormous plate made it seem small and inadequate. Luckily the flavor was fresh and lively. I had a chance to taste the soup and I thought it was a nice choice. PartySugar didn't enjoy the chunks of celery and although she enjoyed the flavor, she felt it wasn't very memorable (she also thought she could make something like this at home).
Next up was the entrée. The Tai Snapper was delicious. The fish was flaky, and firm, but not overcooked. The bed of chard that it sat upon wasn't overly bitter and the cauliflower on top had the perfect texture. I also enjoyed the sauce, and actually used the bread to soak up the remaining bits. Unfortunately the Chicken just didn't seem to live up to the hype. Although it looked gorgeous (check out those watermelon radishes), it seemed a bit too dry. When it arrived on the table, the servers went around and drizzled the Au Jus on top, however they took it away and it never returned. PartySugar felt that it could have been better if it was smothered in more sauce.
After the entrée, we were expecting dessert to arrive next. Our server came by and set new place settings for us, only to have them whisked away by someone else. See, it wasn't time for dessert yet, because before dessert comes the cheese course! It was a delicate pairing of epoisse cheese and vanilla bean ice cream on top of caramelized pumpkin seeds. The potent cheese turned out to be a perfect pairing with the ice cream. The creamy textures of both literally melted in my mouth.
Once we had devoured the cheese course, we were then treated with a light delicious Mojito Soda with Coconut Foam and Tapioca. The dessert was amazingly unique and wonderfully tasty. It was intended to cleanse the palate and it absolutely worked. I personally thought the tapioca added a nice texture, but was almost unnecessary, although I don't know what would be a better texture. Some of our lunch dates thought I was crazy for even saying that.
After the soda came the final course: dessert! At this point, we still assumed that we would have the standard dessert, but oh no no, instead of one dessert, we received five different ones (there were five us there). The desserts consisted of 5 different sorbets (quince, pineapple, grapefruit, mango, and coconut), carrot raviolis, a golden egg, chocolate sponge cake with tandoori paper, and "french toast" with kumquats.
I could go on about these desserts for quite a long time, but my favorite was definitely the whimsical coconut mousse filled carrot raviolis, avocado mousse and cardamom nage. The sweet flavor and freshness of the carrots really melded with the creamy texture of the coconut. I know people who won't eat carrots that would have LOVED this dish. As PartySugar said, "The carrot ravioli made me feel like a judge on Iron Chef America for its pure ingenuity. The carrots were wrapped delicately around a creamy coconut and mousse filling to create little pillows of crunchy smooth sweetness. When paired with the cool avocado mousse it was like a whole new taste experience for me."
In short, it was FANTASTIC.
But wait, did I say that was my favorite? Because now that I'm thinking about it, it may have been the golden egg. Imagine a slow poached egg, enveloped in a sweet hard caramel shell, dolloped in gold leaf, and then paired with a pistachio financier with rosemary oil. It was so wonderful and dreamy. I have a thing for egg yolks paired with sweet items (don't get me started about eggs on toast with strawberry jam), and this was just divine. I think I may have licked the plate once everyone was done sharing.
When we were about to leave, Boris popped out of the kitchen to present us with a few chocolate goodies. It was the perfect end to a wonderful eating frenzy.
Overall, I had a great time at Campton Place. The food was good, but not amazing, but the desserts... oh the desserts...
If you're in the area and want a unique scrumptious creation, then be sure to stop by and visit pastry chef Boris Portnoy. Although consider yourself warned, none of the desserts were super sweet, it's not really his "thing."