Monday, May 5, 2008

Fun Playing with Dante's Fish

Last Thursday, we enjoyed Sushi Blues in the Bar area of Restaurant Dante, located in the former Lockkeepers location in Valley View, just south of Cleveland Ohio. Chef Dante Boccuzzi dazzled us with his knowledge of the art of raw fish, gleaned from service at the famous Nobu in NYC. And there is no substitute for fantastic product - almost every morsel we tasted was pristine.

I'd just had some unexpected dental work, and it was killing me! How to ease the pain? A shot of Gosling's Black Seal Rum, please. And, as Maxwell Smart might say - it was the second biggest shot glass I'd ever seen.

See how it compares to a quarter:

That was a big shot. I felt so much better!

Our dining companions joined us at a table in the bar area. First came bread service. The bread sticks remain addictive, and you have to love the imaginative bread baskets made from real record albums.

But we were here for the fish! For starters, we shared - "Spicy Scallop Chips":

These tasty morsels of raw scallop and their lip-smacking sauce sat upon a freshly made gaufrette.

Eye of the Tiger

Pickled vegetables and sushi rice filled this nori-wrapped roll and each slice was topped with scallop, a rich aioli, and a dollop of a soy-based condiment. The vegetables melded together so well, that I actually didn't realize it contained mushrooms until I'd eaten some - and finding them sufficiently pickled to be inoffensive, I enjoyed them! This dish made me sigh with pleasure, it was so good!

The Zeppelin

This roll is subtitled: Chef's Choice. Though I considered asking the server to ask Chef to hold the cucumber, I decided to just go with the flow! And yes, the roll was wrapped in cucumber. However, thanks to the nori wrapper below it, I was able to easily de-cucumber my pieces (and yes, I did nibble a bit of it first to see if I could take it - the answer was "no").

The inside of the roll contained pristine fish (tuna and salmon, I think), tasty rice, egg, fresh asparagus and scallion (the fish was raw, the asparagus and egg lightly cooked). Yum.

And yes, it was served on The Eagles Greatest Hits:

We were lucky to be able to share with our good friend, food enthusiast and fellow food photographer Edsel. The menu had two different fish collars available.

We'd been hankering to try fish collar since Iron Chef Michael Symon made swordfish collar on The Next Iron Chef. Edsel was our dining companion at Lola on New Year's Eve last year, and swordfish collar was on the menu - but alas - Chef Symon was not satisfied with the quality of the product he received, and so he did not serve it. Which meant that, until Thursday, we were still collar-less.

Edsel opted for the Roasted Yellowtail Collar:

Hamachi Kama Shioyaki

Our taste of the meat was delightful - but what was so mystical about this dish? What makes it a delicacy? We need our own portion to answer these questions.

Sake Kama Shioyaki (Roasted Salmon Collar)

Aha! The joy of this delicacy is to nibble the meat off of the bones - to savor the crispy skin - it is fabulous.

BBQ Eel and Avocado

This was the only item we had that didn't "wow" me. The eel was not as pristine as the fish and scallops we had already enjoyed, and I thought that the BBQ sauce was too much. But mind you, that did not stop us from cleaning the plate!


Now, polenta is rather incongruous with the balance of the menu we ordered. But we were told that we had to try it, so we did. And it was good. Incongruous, but good.

We ordered a Sashimi plate, as did Edsel. Ours was Pickled Garlic & Peppers, and his Yuzu Sprayed. Don't ask how or why we switched them - but it didn't matter - every element on each plate was delicious!

Sashimi Pickled Garlic and Peppers

This tower of pickled garlic and pickled peppers was perched atop a freshly made onion ring.

Sashimi Yuzu Sprayed

This salad was also perched atop a freshly made onion ring.

Every bite of sashimi was perfect. And the pickled garlic went amazingly well with - the polenta!

Mixed Sushi

Another of our dining companions had these rolls; left to right: yellowtail & scallion, salmon 3 ways, and the bottom-right one is spicy crunchy tuna.

This mostly raw fish adventure at Dante was absolutely worth the price of admission! And I almost forgot to mention the Blues - a wonderful musician, whose name I didn't write down, playing a bluesy acoustic-electric guitar (like a skinny dobro) and singing a range of music from 12 bar blues to Bob Dylan, without missing a note.

Sushi Blues at Dante is a wonderful way to play with your food on a Thursday evening!

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