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Discovery Menu at Rover's


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We managed to have a fantastic time at lunch, which was just as delightful as I thought it would be. (Anyone else, please post your thoughts). Thanks to everyone for making that a really decadent afternoon. It was definitely a dilettante's lunch hour -- I think we started at noon and left at 3 p.m.? Probably about the same duration as a Salumi lunch, right?

The lunch menu was quite extensive, with the three-course tasting menu for $35 and then a selection of appetizers and entrees that was quite long and very well priced.

Several of us duplicated our orders because there were simply just a few standouts that *had* to be sampled. Namely, the Hudson Valley foie gras appetizer with maui pineapple and a vinegar glace ($17). For entrees, I think four of seven got the Moulard duck breast with English peas, artichoke and a rosemary sauce ($18). A sucker for sea bass, I went with that. It came with spinach, orzo and a wonderful bacon and thyme vinaigrette ($18). It was superb.

I thought my cheese plate at the end of the meal ($12) was a perfect finish. It came with five cheeses -- three were cow's milk and two were goat's milk, including the excellent Quillascut goat cheese with the ash rind -- and a tangle of greens with a really nice assortment of spicy-sweet nuts. I looked around at everyone else eating the opera cake, though, and it made me wish I could eat more. There were other desserts, a vanilla panna cotta and an ice cream selection, but I don't think anyone ordered those.

The wine was flowing and the service excellent. Thierry Rautureau came out at the end of the meal and we had a nice conversation with him (we had to plug eGullet, of course). His wife, who was the hostess for the afternoon, spent some time chatting us up and she was just a sweetheart. The service was stunning, really an example of what every restaurant should aspire to provide.

Here's a look at the rest of the menu, just in case you were wondering. The menu changes daily, so you may not find these items on the menu, of course, but this will provide an idea of what type of food to expect if you haven't eaten at Rover's before:

Appetizers/Salads/Starters

House cured seabass with a radish salad, asian pear and rice vinegar ($10)

Green asparagus salad with a cauliflower panna cotta and a turmeric infusion ($9)

Walla Walla sweet onion tart with garden greens and a sherry vinaigrette ($10)

Mussels and clams mariniere style with toasted bread and a garlic aioli ($9)... I ordered this as a starter and it was FANTASTIC, the garlic aioli was spot-on perfect

Grilled Eastern Washington green asparagus with a lemon mousseline ($8)

Salade Lyonnaise with frisee, organic poached egg and duck prosciutto ($11), (I ordered this as a first course and it was just wonderful. I think LEdlund also ordered this. The duck prosciutto was so rich and the egg was so creamy... it was just fantastic contrasted with the acidity of the tart vinaigrette... a really nice job with flavor/texture. How come my lyonnaise never tastes like this at home?)

Roasted beet and cauliflower salad with herbed couscous and an arugula dressing ($9, $17, entree size)

Feuillete of Morel mushrooms, fava beans and English peas with a curried onion sauce ($10)

Organic scrambled egg with a lime creme fraiche and a white sturgeon caviar ($20)

The aforementioned Hudson Valley foie gras ($17)

Martini of lobster with cucumber, Chopin vodka and white sturgeon caviar ($18)

Entrees, etc.

Alaskan Halibut with tomato confit, oyster mushroom and green lentils ($19)

The aforementioned sea bass ($18) and moulard duck breast ($18)

Braised Oregon lamb shank with morels, carrots and a Moroccan olive sauce ($19). I think two people got this and it just smelled fantastic.

Three course lunch, $35

Included:

The cured sea bass app

The braised lamb shank

Opera cake with hazelnut and a caramel sauce

(You could substitute other apps and entrees for this, which I think some people did)

Cheese/dessert

Aforementioned cheese assortment ($12)

Vanilla panna cotta with almond tuile and a pomegranate coulis ($8)

Opera cake ($9)

sorbet/ice cream of the day ($8)

I'm definitely going back.

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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I'd just like to second Girl Chow's comment on the service: utterly transparent. IOW, they don't constantly come by and interrupt your conversations to ask "Are you enjoying your meal??" And they don't disappear or (I just hate this, though it happens everywhere) avoid your eyes. They're there when they need to be, unobtrusively and pleasantly. And when you do raise your eyes to ask for something, they're standing over there waiting.

I missed out on talking with Thierry and his wife (had to pick up the kids), but while I was there, as has been my experience in the past, the service was perfect.

Steve

"Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon." --Dalai Lama

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Absolutely, those servers were a finely tuned ensemble. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed our server and table assistant quietly talking about the next course immediately after they presented our first course. Our table assistant basically stood at attention in the corner, waiting to clear our dishes and refill our water glasses. He was very adept at melting into the background, but surfacing just when he was needed, unobtrusively.

There was a lot of thought and effort put into the flow of our meal. It was a really exquisite thing to watch. I wonder what their training program must be like there.

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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as has been my experience in the past, the service was perfect.

Steve

Boy, have I had a diff. experience w. Rover's service than you!! For my first meal there (celebrating my birthday) we ordered the 5 course & the waiter forgot to bring the fish. After serving the meat course, we asked why we hadn't received the fish course & he said we had!!! Imagine the lunacy of doubting that we knew what we'd eaten.

For 20 minutes I stewed over what I saw as an unpardonable service error before he finally brought over a lovely & prob. very expensive dessert wine. A very nice gesture, but too late for my taste.

We then ate there a 2nd time & the waiter looked at me like I was from Mars when I told him that I wanted to order the 5 course but to order an entre from the 7 course (I offered to pay extra for this benefit). "But monsieur, we do not do that here." Not an exact quote but pretty close.

Also, we watched a parade of restaurant glitterati including chef, sommelier, etc. traipse dutifully to the next table where a well heeled older customer was dining with his trophy wife. As for us, we were chopped liver. I didn't expect the royal treatment. But I felt I was out in the cold in so many ways after that meal.

And guess what, I've never been back.

I'm not saying Rover's food isn't great or that it doesn't deserve its accolades (food wise at least). But the overall quality of my dining experience there has been piss poor, especially considering that great restaurants (IMO) are measured not just by food quality, but by how well they meet the expectations (& that includes service) of their customers.

My blog post about Rover's is at http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_ol...s_seattle_.html

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Richard, your experience should be a glaring example for all chefs/restaurant owners that fantastic, or piss poor, service can make or break a fine dining experience.

Even if the food is dead-on perfect, I end up leaving annoyed if the service is terrible like that, unless, of course, it's a mid-level restaurant with mid-level aspirations. At a restaurant the caliber of Rover's, I would expect nothing less than doting service -- and that's exactly what we got last Friday.

I do have a few questions for you: did you make any after-the-fact comments to Thierry or anyone else about your experience? If so, what was said/done to make ammends, if anything? And, if you didn't tell him about your experience, why didn't you feel the need to?

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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At a restaurant the caliber of Rover's, I would expect nothing less than doting service -- and that's exactly what we got last Friday.

I agree about the service, it was impeccable. The servers seemed to anticipate our every need. The only thing I wish had been done differently is when two people were sharing dishes that they had been split in the kitchen. Steve and I shared the foie gras (which I had been told was possible to do) and we were left to our own devices (literally) to cut the foie and place on a second plate while trying to make sure the accompanying sauce and pineapple compote made it as well. Sue and I also shared the cheese plate for dessert, but this was much easier to split. It's not a point that will make me write off a restaurant, but, as Sue wrote, at a restaurant of the caliber of Rover's, it would have been a nice touch.

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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First off I'm so glad everyone enjoyed their lunch. I'm jealous as I wasn't in attendance but happy everyone had a good time. :smile:

Second I'm stunned to hear that someone had bad service at Rover's not once but twice??? My husband took me there for my birthday dinner and these people went out of their way to talk to us about the food, provide top notch service and help us with choices of wine. Thierry came out not once but twice and knew exactly where we were in our dinner ("so how was your 6th course of the ......")

We had dinner at Picasso in Las Vegas about a month after and agreed that they could only TRY to be at the level of service that Rovers' staff achieves. And the food....... well YUM!!!!!

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I do have a few questions for you: did you make any after-the-fact comments to Thierry or anyone else about your experience? If so, what was said/done to make ammends, if anything? And, if you didn't tell him about your experience, why didn't you feel the need to?

Thanks for understanding my feelings after Rover's service made me feel so underwhelmed.

As for you good question above--I don't know anyone on Rover's staff & I've never met Thierry. I believe (though I'm not positive) that the waiter who mixed up the courses WAS the maitre d' that night. Thierry never came to our table either time so I didn't feel there was an opportunity to say anything. I have felt the urge several times since these incidents to call the restaurant & ask to speak to him & possibly I will after yr. encouragement.

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I have felt the urge several times since these incidents to call the restaurant & ask to speak to him & possibly I will after yr. encouragement.

Do it.

You don't even have to call him or tell him your name, you can always send a short note to let him know that this really bothered you. I've done that before. If diners don't call/write when they have unsatisfactory experiences with the serving staff, how is the restaurant ever going to know that they've got a dud on staff?

Lauren, I didn't know that you had to split your foie gras, that seemed like that might be a messy job. The cheese plate wasn't difficult to split up, but I agree it would have been nice if they split it for us in the kitchen. I seem to remember Jan and Kathy2 having to split one of their shared courses, as well. Hmmmm...

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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I agree about the service, it was impeccable. The servers seemed to anticipate our every need. The only thing I wish had been done differently is when two people were sharing dishes that they had been split in the kitchen. Steve and I shared the foie gras (which I had been told was possible to do) and we were left to our own devices (literally) to cut the foie and place on a second plate while trying to make sure the accompanying sauce and pineapple compote made it as well.

I don't want to be too much of a stickler, but the issue with your foie gras tells me the service wasn't impeccable. As I think you said or at least implied, you'd think a restaurant of the stellar reputation of Rover's would anticipate the needs of diners & take care of splitting the order in the kitchen for you so it would make it to your plate in a nice neat presentation (instead of the messy version you partook after splitting it yourself). A great restaurant knows to do this & Rover's should too.

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Well, as long as we're talking about service instead of food…I felt the wait staff was very good, but nothing outstanding for a restaurant of that caliber. I actually didn't notice them except when they were giving or taking away dishes. With an outstanding staff, one does not notice them when they are taking dishes from the table. All this aside I was very happy with the staff with the exception of the foie gras. I too believe they should have split it in the kitchen. We egulleter's were just at Café Campagne for breakfast and our egg dish (Oeufs en meurette) was split in the kitchen. This, Café Campagne did without us asking. I must say in Rover's defense, Café Campagne is probably used to people splitting dishes.

All the food was good with the exception of the foie gras. It was a very thin cut of foie gras. I believe if one is going to serve foie gras it should be of the thicker cut. One doesn't have to serve a huge piece but the piece that is served should be thick for the texture experience as well as the taste. Just a bite or two is enough. I'm not a chef so I'm not sure of the complications my request presents but I would not order foie gras again at Rover's.

I ate the lamb and felt the flavors were very well mingled and reduced to produce a fine single taste. I also thought the treatment of the morels was done well. So many times this season I've had morels prepared in ways that don't do the little nuggets of gold justice.

I would go back to Rovers. I would go to dinner and I'd also go to another lunch. Here's to supporting a good chef and one that's personable as well. And here's to eating and meeting great new egullet members.

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To get back to talking about food, :laugh: here's three lines from Rover's Web site:

Secret Recipes from the Chef in the Hat!!!

Thierry’s cookbook is scheduled for release in 2005.

Click here for a sample of what’s inside.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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  • 1 month later...

A week ago Friday we tried the Rover's Friday lunch. Wow! What a treat and a wonderful experience!... both food and service were exemplary.

We both went with the set 3 course lunch for $35, and made no substitutions. It began with a small plate of thinly sliced house cured cod (very yummy) with a small minced radishy salad in center. Very good, especially that cod. The main course was Moulard Duck breast, sliced, with a sauce including lots of morels, and a dollup of mashed potatoes to go with. The flavor was very good, although the duck a bit chewy (perhaps an indication that it was just a tiny tad overcooked?). Dessert was the Opera cake w/ Caramel sauce... excellent. In fact, I was wanting to lick each plate clean, as everything was so good. Their bread served was a sliced baguette from Essential bakery, served with Plugra butter... just great, and I asked for extra the bread to get every drop of sauce from the duck plate (saucing was ample).

The service (2 fellows) was both polished and extremely professional. I took a liking to them very much and conversed with them at various times throughout the meal. They sensed my interest in the food and total experience to the extent that when I started to return from the ladies room, (near the kitchen) one of them asked me if I would like to go into the kitchen? Wow! Talk about a treat! I was overwhelmed by the offer and could not resist taking him up on it and went behind the door with him into kitchen, very tidy, orderly, etc. where about 5 people were busy with various preparations.

To top it all off, at the end of the meal, while paying the bill, and filling out a card w/birthday and anniversary info on it... I commented to the waiters about the card I was filling out and informed them that it was my anniversary and asked if was too late to get something complementary for it being our anniversary? They looked at each other, gave us a smile, and happily brought us 2 glasses of complementary champagne to end our meal with! Totally delightful and I could not have been more happy about the entire experience. I don't think it hurts to tastefully ask something like that, the worst they can say is sorry, no, which would have been fine, but was a bonus that they said yes in this case. Another example, a friend of mine who went for a birthday dinner there last week, also filled the card out at end of meal, but didn't mention it was his birthday or ask about anything, and consequently didn't get anything. Perhaps it's at the whim of the waiter, too, whether they say yes or no? I don't know.

There were about 7 tables of diners during the time we were there (a very sunny day), and I asked if they will continue with the Friday lunches, and was told they will go at least through Fall, when the weather is cooler to see if business picks up during lunch.. as with the weather being so great, perhaps people are spending time outdoors eating casually instead of having formal lunches indoors. I only made my reservation that day, and had no problem getting in, and didn't need to give a CC to hold it the day of.

I also asked about dining with small children there for lunch, if that is ok, and was told during lunch it's fine to bring small children (he suggested 3+ as the age he felt they could sit through a lunch of 1 hour or 1 1/2 hours, which is how long our lunch took).

Thierry and wife were not there that day, they were in Napa wine tasting, and everything went great, even without their presence in the restaurant. I would highly recommend this place for a special lunch on Fridays.

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I'm very impressed that Blue Heron could eat such an amazingly rich meal for lunch! I know I couldn't. But I'm glad you enjoyed yr. meal as so many have reported they have too in this thread. It's so cool to get a kitchen tour. I too would've been in awe.

I only wish my waiter had responded--as well as yours did--to my polite request to allow a substitution in the 3 course dinner meal. If he had treated me as your waiter treated you I'd have been pretty happy with Rover's.

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  • 1 month later...

a bit of nice news just popped into my inbox: Thierry "has been named a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Merite Agricole in recognition of his contribution to the French gastronomic arts," according to the release. very nice feather in the, well, hat. also says the cookbook is slated for next year.

as the above graf notes, Thierry is a chef of the first magnitude. i've always been very happy with my meals at Rover's, the service is impeccable, the wine list is broad and reasonable.

the lunch option sounds wonderful, though i've yet to be able to sneak off on a Friday and enjoy it.

however, i've always held a slight belief that the prix fixe prices are a tad on the high end for Seattle. (i seriously believe that for the Herbfarm, but that's another issue.) the 5-course seems generally reasonable, if a bit on the high end, but when you start to creep up past $125, it feels to me less about the food and more about the fact there are a lot (though not as many as in the past) of Microsoftie types with money to burn at places exactly like Rover's. with Nathan Myhrvold and Dick Brass dining there, there's good reason i've heard it called the "Microsoft cafeteria" more than once.

this all came back up yesterday as i read Frank Bruni's review of Per Se. with their 9-course meal topping out at $150, i had to wonder: can four stars in Seattle command the same price range as four stars in Manhattan?

i honestly don't know the answer, but i'll speculate that if nothing else, rent in Madison Valley is somewhat less than in Columbus Circle.

begging the question: what's an appropriate high-end tasting menu cost in Seattle? Mistral seems to have found a comfort zone (still have yet to go there, sadly) and i've never felt Cascadia was out of line. but above $100, i start to get real itchy.

anyone else?

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