For Caroline’s birthday, she picked this tapas restaurant. The Silk Road features cuisines from all over the world. For anyone who isn’t sure, a tapas restaurant serves only appetizer sized plates, so you have several different things, but only a little of each. This one offers wine by the bottle, wine by the glass, or wine by the flight (two ounce tastes of three different wines) and we chose to do a few seafood plates first, with a glass of white wine each, and then some meatier dishes with glasses of red wine. You might want to hit that link to see some pictures, but here’s what we had:
Crab dip, tuna ceviche and halibut cheeks. To go with those, I ordered a Gewurtztraminer from Alsace while Caroline chose a Bliss Chardonnay from Mendocino. The Chardonnay ran to the cat pee end of the spectrum, which isn’t Caroline’s thing, so we traded wines. The crab dip was very tasty, rich and creamy and came with a crispy flatbread and some pitas. The ceviche was my idea. It came in a martini glass, with the fish floating in lime juice. Ceviche is like that sometimes, but I prefer the ones where the fish just tastes like lime. The halibut cheeks were Caroline’s idea, and they were nice, but not something we’d order again. If this sounds as if we were disappointed, we weren’t. The great thing about a tapas restaurant is that you can experiment, and if you go out on a limb and it wasn’t what you thought… well, there’s just a couple of mouthfuls and you move on.
For our second round, Caroline chose a hot pickled beet salad with arugula and goat cheese; and pork and veal cannelloni. I opted for a Japanese style beef tenderloin skewer and a variety of sautéed mushrooms on French bread. All of these dishes were excellent. Wine-wise, Caroline picked a Pinot Noir from the Willamette valley in Oregon, while I asked whether I should have a Merlot from Walla Walla, which I felt safe with, or a local wine from Montana. The wine waiter suggested I go with my instinct and have the Merlot, but surprised me by bringing a mouthful of the Montana wine to taste. It was interesting, but would have been a tough food match. Its aroma was kind of foxy, but it was smooth on the palate. The merlot was lovely, supple and smooth. Caroline was really happy with her Pinot, too. I thought it minty and fresh, but preferred my own wine, so no trading this time. Actually, we both ordered second glasses of the same.
Now, back to the food. I don’t share Caroline’s enthusiasm for beets, so I just had a forkful of arugula and goat cheese. The cheese was sharp and creamy, perhaps a Chevre. Top marks for her cannelloni, I’d order that luscious dish in a heartbeat. We both admired my tenderloin – melt in the mouth tender with an elusive Japanese heat that wasn’t Wasabi. My sautéed mushroom selection made me wish we had Jonathan with us, he’s an even bigger mushroom fan than I am.
We didn’t have room for a lot of dessert, so we ordered the Mediterranean Trio, which gets you a date shortbread cookie, and little lemon and olive oil cake and a baklava. The lemon cake was my favorite.
By the way, Caroline had wanted me to dress up a little, but it was cool out so I just wore jeans and a nice sweater over my lumberjack shirt. Hey, I said, its Missoula, not Milan. I was right. The restaurant was full of rather arty types in sweaters and jeans. Oh dear. I’m writing a book – does this make me an arty type?
Anyway, high marks for the Silk Road. Remember, this was our first visit, so we were totally guessing our way through the menu. When we come back in May, our dinner will rock!