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Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Cook's House - Traverse City, MI - 7/2/09

The site for this tiny restaurant can be found here. They might take walk-ins, but I think I counted 18 seats - don't risk it, get a reservation.

Hypothetically, I would've brought an L. Mawby Blanc de Noir and a Two Lads Cab Franc to go with this tasting menu. Hypothetically, if I did, they would've gone great. Hypothetically.

You can pick from appetizers/entrees like a typical restaurant or you can do a five course tasting menu for $45 or a seven course tasting menu for $55.

I am a fan of the tasting menu. I think the tasting menu is the best way to eat - if a restaurant has one, I do it. If I can't afford it, I wait until I can. It is the way to go.

I've done many tasting menus in Chicago plus a couple in other Midwest cities and this is the cheapest - $55 - for what was served. In terms of the dollar/deliciousness ratio, this one wins.

I admit, I like my molecular gastronomy and I like my foams which this has neither of. This is classic preparations with high quality ingredients. To compare to Chicago establishments, The Cook's House can most closely be compared to the food of Charlie Trotter's with the atmosphere of Schwa - only the chef's don't seem to hate you and getting a reservation is easy.

Our seat was right against a cooler which divided the kitchen from the dining room - the back and front panels were glass so we got to watch the chef work, but didn't get a chance to chat.

Seven we go

White Bean and Red Wine Soup (not pictured)
Unless you have a really goofy looking bowl or you do some creative garnish, soup can't be plated interestingly, so I didn't take a photo...I should've, but I hadn't planned on taking photos until course #2. This was one of those soups where it seemed there couldn't be more than a handful of ingredients but they were clearly better quality than most places and prepared perfectly.

Risotto with Racelette Cheese, Fennel and Reduced Sherry Wine

I admit, I don't care much for risottos, but this one worked nicely. Subtlety abound - the only risotto I ever went nuts over was explosive, so this is probably a more traditional preparation. Fran dug it a lot.

Sautéed Gnocchi with Asparagus, Warm Arugula, and Wild Shiitake Mushrooms

I've never had gnocchi like this. Light, soft little pillows - I've had good gnocchi and perhaps I've had gnocchi I liked more than this, but this really took the pillowy airy softness to a new level.

Rabbit Braised in Late Harvest Wine, Dried Plums, and Sauerkraut

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. When rabbit is on a menu, one of us orders it, among the best preparations we've had.

Salad of argula, rose petals, walnuts

I love rose water and rose essence in Indian desserts and that sorta thing, but I've never actually had rose petals - they did not disappoint. This was, I suppose, more of a palate cleanser than anything else, but it was tasty.

Cheese plate (not pictured)
I don't know why I didn't take a picture of this...weird. Four cheeses with a honeycomb and some fruit. If memory serves there was a cheddar, a brie, a chevre, and I don't know - I dig cheese, but my knowledge is limited.

Strawberry Shortbread

Just how it looks. Nice presentation, good ingredients - a dessert that could go horribly wrong if they used crappy products, but it all worked out.

We haven't eaten everywhere in Traverse City, but we've been to a good chunk of the "nice" places - this was easily the best meal we've had. At $55 a head, it was also the best bargain. As much as I like Stella or think some other places have potential, if you're going to TC and you want a special meal, look no further.

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