Happy Birthday to Me

There are many fine restaurants in Reno and I have enjoyed many of them, not all, to be sure.
Word around town is that LuLou’s is the place to go for celebrating a special occasion. Without consulting me, Carol and Brian made a reservation at LuLou’s for my birthday. I’m good with that.

PROLOGUE

pineapple express eve

Reno had no precipitation in January. Zero. First time in 10 years. On Groundhog day, the weather guy started talking about the Pineapple Express, a “river of weather” traveling with 80 to 100mph winds moving in a straight line from Hawaii through Reno, bringing with it great gobs of rain below 8000 feet and three or four feet of wet snow above that. Will his wishful forecast be correct this time? You betcha, came on my birthday.

Here’s the 8000 foot line in the California Sierras about 8 miles to the West.

I heard the wind before I got up to make coffee at 6:30. Fierce. Trees I could see bent over, wind coming from the West-South-West, so our back yard and courtyard are sheltered. Weather guy said dust storms until the rain starts and wets the earth. We experienced that — and rampant tumbleweeds — when we went to our Chiropractic appointment at 11am. Driving into the wind and dust on our way home, Carol said NO WAY she’s driving out tonight.

Approaching Sierra Canyon on I-80

Sprinkles started around 3pm and dampened the dust, rain started in earnest and dampened the wind. It wasn’t really a storm storm, but by the time we left for LuLou’s, an inch of rain had fallen at our house. Not so much downtown.

DINNER

The menu of first courses. Everybody ordered exclusively from here, except yours truly.

No wonder LuLou’s is known as a place for celebrations. They do personal stuff, like this.

Fried Calamari / Thai citrus glaze / crispy noodle “mee krob”
Pork Buns / 24 hr pork belly / shiitakes / pickled cucumbers / long onions

[Note: I described what I ate, I’ll leave the description of what others ate to them, by way of comment or as noted below.]

The chef at LuLou’s happens to be the brother of our hairdresser. Carol was tipped in advance to order these appetizers. Thanks Doug.

The two Appetizers recommended by Doug were delicious. The calamari was not dipped breaded and deep fried but very lightly tossed with spice and perfectly tender without grease. Served over rice noodles with crunchy noodles on top and light vinaigrette. A really well executed dish…never had calamari done that way.

The pork buns were melt in your mouth delicious. They were more of a savory taco design…a large piece of well cooked pork belly tucked into a pork bun dough wrapper and sauced as described by M. One for each of us was just enough to satisfy as the start of a meal. [Carol]

 The pork bun served in a paper boat for easy handling gave us layer after layer of different flavors and textures from the soft, almost gooey pastry to the crunchy tart cucumber to the unctuously rich pork belly  and finally the onion finish. YUM.

As a first course for Brian and Natalya, they shared these appetizers (no pictures):

Dungeness Crab Skillet Cake / sunchokes / creme fraiche . Himalayan truffle

Baked Maine Lobster /  “escargot” butter / preserved lemon / garlic confit

As their main course, they shared Foie Gras times two…

Seared Foie Gras / chestnut griddle cakes / bourbon aged maple syrup

 

Foie Gras Terrine / huckleberry jam / pine nut crumble / brioche

Carol selected the Dungeness Crab Bisque for her main course.

Dungeness Crab Bisque / scallion jus / saffron potatoes / urfa pepper

The crab bisque made a perfect course to fill out my meal. Warm, rich and lightly seasoned and filled with crab and small chunks of fingerling potatoes. Yummy with the focaccia bread served on the table. [Carol]

I leapt off the appetizer menu for my main course and went straight for the Steak. This one was unlike any steakhouse steak I had ever experienced — no slab of meat and foil wrapped baked potato and undercooked vegetables here — instead, a harmonious and composed dish of the steak, perfectly tender and juicy, fat and succulent trumpet mushrooms, bright and almost crisp broccoli rabe, and “The” potato gratin, may I use the term *rich and fulfilling* again. Hey, it’s my birthday and this dish will be remembered.

Prime Dry Aged N.Y. Steak / king trumpet mushroom / “The” potato gratin / black garlic

Dessert came without menu or description, a lemony moist, balanced unsweet confection that made a palate-cleanser and dessert altogether.

How can lemon curd bar topped with small merengue curls and whipped cream be anything but tart, rich and the perfect dessert to end a birthday dinner! Well the trick candle hit the spot… keep blowing it out and it relights — until you reach the number of your birthdays — if you can get there. [Carol]

Lemon Dessert with Plum Jam

…and Happy 15th Anniversary LuLou’s!

EPILOGUE

My leftover steak and potato… portions on the right to be heated for dinner;  portions on the left for my Sunday breakfast.

Bon Appetit. Saturday dinner served with steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

 

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8 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Me

  1. The “crab skillet cake” was served in a miniature skillet b/c it was a cake in name only. It was more like a chowder that was only 10% liquid. It was so rich and creamy that one could only describe it as ‘decadent’ — unless one prepared it for oneself, in which case the word would be ‘hedonistic.’

    The lobster in “escargot butter” (a.k.a. persillade) was dominated by the persillade to the point that the sweetness of the lobster was obliterated. Would’ve been much better with less herbs and a different, less grassy herb at that; perhaps chives would’ve worked. A bit of cream mixed into the butter may have also helped.

    The seared foie gras was excellent. What’s more, it was presented a bit on the rare, oozy side, which put Natasza off, so I got to eat almost all of it. The little pancakes were good and chestnuts are a classic accompaniment but the maple syrup was a bit banal for my taste. Simple syrup spiked with bourbon would’ve allowed the bourbon and liver flavors to encounter each other more directly.

    The foie gras terrine was pretty standard, reminding me why I usually don’t order it at restaurants. My bad. There must be a way that one could make foie gras paté really pop but I’ve yet to encounter it.

    Overall a very pleasant meal in a very comfortable room served by a very charming woman.

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  2. Marc, We send a big and heartfelt HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

    By deduction I am assuming you share your birth day (Feb 1) with my father. What a great day!!!

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  3. Damn…nice stuff! I got didily jack for my bday.

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  4. Belated happy birthday, Marcus. What you have presented sounds like a great special occasion restaurant. As long as you were happy I don’t care about Doc B’s warm review of his menu selections.

    Glad you survived the weather. What’s up for V-day?

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  5. Wow! Wish we could have celebrated with you.

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  6. What a way to celebrate, Marcus! Congrats and many more. xoxo Sarah

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  7. Marcus,
    Have you not eaten since your birthday?

    Bill

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