Friday, May 16, 2008

More Fun Playing With Dante's Fish (and Foie Gras!)

Last night, a group of us convened at Restaurant Dante for Sushi Blues - live music and not so live fish! We had just enjoyed Sushi Blues two weeks ago, and couldn't wait to try some more!

Bob and I were a little early for our 6pm reservation, so we sat at the bar and enjoyed a cocktail and the music of Austin Walkin' Cane:

Austin played until 8pm, and the volume was just right - loud enough to enjoy, but not so loud as to interfere with our conversation.

Once we were seated, bread service arrived; the melted phonograph record contained something I hadn't tried before - a whole grain epi. Most lovely.

We began with an amuse bouche:

Carrot-Ginger Soup Topped with Pumpkin Seed Brittle

This was deliciously different, especially the brittle.


Nasu Miso - Miso & Sesame Glazed Eggplant

This dish was amazing - especially since it was made with Western Eggplant rather than the sweeter Asian variety. Chef Dante explained that the eggplant slices were given a very long miso marinade, which made them tender and sweet. The eggplant melted in the mouth, with sweet toothy goodness from the sesame glaze, contrasting against the slightly bitter sauteed greens underneath the eggplant slices.

Sashimi - Pickled Garlic and Peppers

Bob and I managed to eat the variety we ordered this time - and it was fantastic. (For an explanation of the mix-up last time - look here.)



Not Sure Which Variety This Was


Hamachi (Yellowtail)

Pickled Garlic and Peppers Over Freshly Made Onion Ring

Once again, the sashimi was pristine, and presented with a lovely drizzle over it.

Flash Cooked Hamachi Sashimi

One of our dining companions ordered this, with all five of the sashimi pieces consisting of Hamachi. It was beautiful to look at and to eat.

Sushi Time!

Spicy Crunchy Tuna

Cut in Half

This item delivered - fresh tuna with a little spice and a little crunch, and delightful sushi rice.

The Zeppelin - Chef's Choice Sushi

This roll was stuffed with four varieties of fish - tuna, salmon, Hamachi and a fourth I can't identify. As you can see, not only was it wrapped in cucumber, cucumber was also part of the filling (those of you who read me regularly know I simply can't deal with the taste or texture of cucumber). No problem - I removed the internal cuke with chopsticks, keeping the roll intact. The beautiful looking cucumber wrapper, which had been painstakingly prepped, went to Bob, who happily consumed it. The rest of the filling was delicious - avocado, asparagus, carrot and wasabi.

Yellowtail and Scallion

Our friend Kay was kind enough to swap one of these for one of our Spicy Tuna pieces - yum!

Sake Kama Shioyaki - Roasted Salmon Collar

Each of the four couples at the table (and our single friend Kay) ordered this. And it is a delicacy not to be missed - crunchy-skin, bone-sucking good!

Unfortunately, there was a minor kitchen snafu, and the table wound up one order short on the collar, with none left in the house. The other three couples had already been served - Bob and myself, and Kay, were still waiting for our two orders. Fortunately, our server immediately solved the problem - pouring us each a glass of wine "on her", asking if we three would all share the one last order of salmon collar (which she said would come off of the check), and then, she offered to bring us each a replacement item, on the house. Kay took her up on the latter - and I'm so glad that she did!

Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Stuffed French Toast, Vanilla Pear Compote, Pomegranate Puree

Was this a starter, as the menu described it, or dessert? I'm not sure - but I'm so glad I got to taste this (and on the very day that Chicago lifted its foie gras ban!). The three ounce hunk of foie was perfectly seared and still pink in the middle. The French Toast contrasted perfectly, with rich egginess and a hint of vanilla. This played well against the tart pomegranate and sweet pear sauce. This dish made me so happy, I could not imagine eating anything else.

The table wound up sharing a round of desserts from Pastry Chef Wendy Thompson anyway - and even my husband, who claimed he was too full to taste the foie gras dish, had some.

Tahitian Vanilla Crème Caramel, Rhubarb Confiture, Funnel Cake and Strawberry Float

The creme caramel was lovely with a bit of the float drizzled over it and a bite of funnel cake.

Chocolate Peanut Crunch Bars: Milk Chocolate Ice Cream and Caramel Bananas

This dessert was a peanut butter-chocolate-banana lover's dream. And I love that particular combination!

Crispy Tapioca, Green Apple Sorbet and Huckleberry Compote

This was the most intriguing item on the dessert menu, so I am glad I got to try it. Inside the crispy skin was a creamy tapioca pudding. Again, the contrasts of the mild crunchy tapioca bits against the tart Huckleberries and the slightly less tart, but not super sweet sorbet worked perfectly.

I'm not sure exactly what this was. The on-line dessert menu describes a Tropical Cheesecake with lime, crème fraiche, and lychee sorbet - but I remember this dish tasting of rich chocolate and caramel. It was gooey and delicious - and definitely had lychees on the plate!

These desserts truly finished us off! Pastry Chef Thompson is a keeper.

We were all impressed with the food and the service - especially the generous and concerned way the restaurant recovered after the kitchen ran out of salmon collar. We thanked our gracious hosts (Chef Dante was still working his sushi station at the bar, even though it was well after 9pm) and servers, who took such wonderful care of us. We'll be back to play with Dante's sushi again - and we do need to crack more of the "regular" menu, too. Dante Boccuzzi is a man who knows how to play with food!


  1. That's all very nice looking food. But if I read this right, all of those dishes were served in the same restaurant? That does not work for me. The nexus of the pickled and raw fish , the savory cooked and the fancy sweet stuff is not comfortable to me.

    I'm not suggesting it is wrong, neither am I suggesting that any single thing is not terrific. (Far from it!) But I don't jive with the aesthetic.

    And yeah Nancy, that foie dish is beautiful.

  2. Bob - Dante only does the raw fish on Thursdays. He explained to our table something we already kinda knew - the difficulty in getting very fresh product on a daily basis here in the Midwest.

    But I guess due to his prior tenure at Nobu, he missed great sushi and sashimi, which is hard to get here in Cleveland (although not impossible). And since he loves the blues, this was his way of having two things that he loves one day a week!

    So as incongruous as it seems, Dante is a fine dining restaurant that also serves amazing Asian inspired food one day a week.