Thursday, February 14, 2008

Great Expectations

Sometimes you need to learn to lower your expectations. Or perhaps, just let go and not have any expectations whatsoever.

While at dinner at Tamarine in Palo Alto the other night, my oh-so-wise married friend commented that sometimes you may just need to lower your expectations when you are dating. For all those childhood (ok, and maybe current) dreams that Prince Charming who is also a doctor, masseuse, lawyer, cook, superman etc etc. is going to ride in on a white horse (a private jet would be ok too) and sweep me off my feet, I know she's probably right and maybe that "perfect" guy is just a tad bit more the guy sitting next to me on the bus. Let expectations go.

One of my good friends has been dating a girl for a couple of months now that lives a couple hours away. With Valentine's Day today and him being the good guy that he is, he went all out to show her he cared. Even I was slightly impressed with his roses-sending-and-traveling-up-for-one-night-and-showing-up-at-the-train-station-
with-her-favorite-Starbucks-drink-in-hand-shopping-and-cooking-dinner-at-the-apartment-self. While I'm certain he did this because he cared, not because he hoped to get anything in return, he reasonably had some expectations that she would return his affections in some way on Valentine's Day and that the evening would be extra special. Yet, not even an e-card. Nothing. And the night felt like any other night. A great night as usual, but nothing extraordinary. Let expectations go.

But I am neither a dating columnist, nor is this a blog about dating, so let's talk about how this relates to food.

I have been dreaming of going to Gary Danko since before moving to San Francisco. Recipient of the much coveted Michelin Star, Gary Danko is fine dining and I was fully researched, starved and prepared for this glorious meal. Except it's shiny glory was a little bit dull.

When I started this blog, I decided to write mainly about recipes I've tried or created or general food topics. I've decided to leave restaurant reviews to the experts, and so with that, I will only offer the following comments on my Gary Danko experience. Yes, the menu structure (pick any 3, 4 or 5 items from any where on the menu) is uniquely flexible. Yes, the service is good, but almost a bit creepy. These servers almost didn't seem like people. Yes, the food is good, but I expected fully to be dazzled out of my mind. It's rich and filling and maybe I just expected too much.

That's all I have to offer for now, other than what we ordered and some food porn.

Amuse Bouche

C - Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Red Onion and Fuji Apples

A - Glazed Oysters with Osetra Caviar, Salsify and Lettuce Cream

C - Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Winter Root Vegetables and Sage Oil

A - Seared Sea Scallops with Rutabaga Purée, Roasted Turnips, Braised Celery
and Brown Butter Golden Raisins

C - Guinea Hen Breast with Hen Sausage, Bacon-Butternut Squash Risotto
and Périgord Black Truffles

A - Roast Maine Lobster with Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Edamame and Tarragon

C – Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb with Beets, Polenta, Escarole and Raisin-Pinenut Relish

A - Lemon Herb Duck Breast with Duck Hash and Endive Marmalade

C – Wussed out and was too full for the cheese cart I ordered
A - Beef Tenderloin with King Trumpet Mushrooms, Potato Gratin, Cassis Glazed Shallots and Stilton Butter

C - Cute little chocolate cake wrapped up for the morning

A - A nice bill (forgot the picture :()

Even A was full beyond belief and just wanted it to stop by the end. We ended up boxing up the last three dishes after taking a few tasting bites while the food was fresh. Of course, A was a little confused why he only gets the bill while I get a cake.

Overall, I enjoyed the meal, but I am pretty certain that all the hype and expectations got the better of me in the end. Next time I dine at an hyped restaurant, I'm going to leave the hype and expectations at the door and hopefully have a more enjoyable meal. Yes, I need to let expectations go.

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