M Restaurant –Philadelphia,Pa
The always revolving dilemma of how to celebrate the end of one year and embrace the start of a new one brings us to New Years Eve 2011. Go out with style eating bangers and mash like a dainty English Queen, bratwurst it up jolly with all the beer thirsty Germans, or try that very suspicious looking animal in the Asian restaurant they are calling duck, but we all know better. No, we have it; we shall go into 2012 as pretentious busy bodies that will eat our way into prosperity. So it is settled, we shall eat French food. With that we descend upon M Restaurant in Philadelphia that has just received Chef Aaron Bellizzi from famed restaurant Le Cirque after the much too quick departure of brilliant Chef Michael Caspi leaving this Center City location with a void of nothingness to fill and quick.
As those of you who know the Bluejeanfoodcritic, he may not know all of the ingredients he digests, but will do his best to describe the adventure with everyone. We start the night with a titillating palate warm up with an egg mixture, topped with trout roe and a spice of some sort. This was by far our least favorite dish, but oddly enough, the splashes of saltiness coming from the trout roe popping in one’s mouth did get our mouth watering for more. So it could not have been that bad.
Now we move to our cheese plate. If my memory was good enough to remember the names of the three cheeses I digested, you would have spotted the Bluejeanfoodcritic earlier in life winning spelling bee championships, but sadly we will just stick to the story of having had three cheeses. Unfortunately describing the dish so plainly does a gigantic disservice to what I experienced, and what I experienced was close to resembling an out-of-body experience. The French know what they are doing with cheeses, and M Restaurant does it with fantastic flair. The only way to describe it would be to simply say, try it for oneself at M.
Our meal courses finally started with soup called Sunchoke Soup. It should be renamed take a sip of this and you will want to run outside and scream “Holy S#*+, I have just had the best soup I have ever tasted in my life”. By no means am I a soup person at all. Sure I enjoy a good soup to start a meal just as much as the next person, but this was the moment in my life that I have realized it is time for me to search soup out. The ingredients were pumpernickel, citrus cured salmon, capers, and red onion. Do you agree when you read that does it yell out eat me, oh course not, but this was the highlight of the night.
Moving on, we then had Oxtail Terrine. That was oxtail, charred scallions, and parsnip puree. The Oxtail was delicious as the slow cooked delight shined with the mix of the charred scallions sublimely put inside the layers. The following course was Lobster North Atlantic which consisted of bisque, grapefruit, wild rice, and salsify. I was really looking forward to this dish and it did not disappoint except for the grapefruit. I do not know the culinary explanation of why that was added to this dish, but it was easily removed. It was a lobster tail cooked to perfection with an entire claw to go with it; kudos M Restaurant.
The main dish moment finally arrives. Filet Mignon with conifers, turnips, cheddar gremolata, and jus placed in front of us with all of its glory. The filet is cooked to perfection with natural juices just oozing from every side. The cheddar gremolata topping was just heavenly. Able to cut through the dish with just a fork, each bite was savored just as much as the last with the vegetables accompanying the dish perfect. We could not have scripted a better New Years Eve setting for dinner. Now the time to wind down has come as we have reached our limit of food, but M Restaurant does not tone down the theme of bold dish after bold dish to kick off 2012. We end the night with Pear Panna Cotta that was created with poached and pickled pear with ginger lime streusel and pear foam. Chef Aaron Bellizzi must have Harry Potter blood flowing through his veins having learned the skill of Transfiguration from Professor McGonagall by turning ordinary pear parts into an extraordinary dessert. The foam just melted in our mouths with the tart pickled pear putting just the right amount of tingle in our taste buds to be able to pack it all in and depart.
The night at M Restaurant was a complete success with 5 out of 5 stars followed by an amazing display of fireworks put on the Delaware River waterfront at Penns Landing. Welcome 2012 and we bid adieu to 2011. May great things continue in the new year as a great meal has started it. The Bluejeanfoodcritic looks forward to this year being filled with tastes and events we all can fondly remember.
M Restaurant, Philadelphia PA