Murray Circle – Sausalito

After a handful of nice luncheons at Murray Circle, I was anxious to return for the Full Monty dinner. Accompanied by trusted dining buddy, Lisa, I apologize that the good camera was left at home and only the iPhone camera was available to document the evening. We opted for the full, eight-course Grand Tasting (they offer a four-course tasting as well). And after consulting with our server, determined that a shared wine pairing (1 to 2 ounce pours) would suffice for the two of us.

Drakes Bay Oysters as a bisque, Dijon mustard “floating island,” with watermelon radish. Served with Gaston Chiquet, Brut tradition, Dizy, NV. Two oysters were curled up and served next to a large, fluffy quenelle of mustard. The quality of the oysters was excellent, the soup portion was rich and creamy, and the influence of a hint of the mustard foam quenelle would have been nice, but the size of the quenelle overwhelmed the dish. I made the mistake of taking a large bite out of the quenelle because it was such a predominant ingredient in the presentation. After I realized how strong that component was, I concentrated more on the luscious bisque and juxtaposition of bright watermelon bits with just a taste of the mustard. Much, much better… The Gaston Chiquet was creamy and a perfect accompaniment.

Gulf Prawns from the plancha, cherry tomatoes “aigre-doux,” corn velouté, and basil popcorn. Served with Domaine de la Cadette, La Chatelaine, Vézelay, Burgundy, 2007. The wine was lovely with well-integrated mineral notes and complexity. The wine worked well with the corn velouté but sadly, the rest of the dish fell woefully short. We were both intrigued with the concept of basil popcorn and immediately tasted one, but were mostly disappointed. The prawns were not cooked properly and had a mushy texture which did not work well against the mushiness of the tomatoes. It was just a sad, sad dish overall and went back to the kitchen mostly un-eaten.

Dayboat Halibut, grilled in fig leaves, sassafras, hazelnut, with sea urchin emulsion. Served with Michel-Schlumberger, La Brume Chardonnay, Dry Creek, 2006. I was not particularly thrilled with a second Chardonnay (there ARE other whites that work well with seafood!), but once I tasted the course, I didn’t really care. Served alongside the halibut was sugar snap peas and hazelnuts and a parsnip purée. The urchin emulsion was served tableside and with Lisa’s devotion to uni, we asked for a little extra. Everything about this course was brilliant; the halibut had been grilled and the perfect amount of smokiness was detectable against the unctuousness of the sea urchin. The snow peas provided a perfectly crisp brightness. This course certainly made up for the indiscretion of the previously served prawn.

Squab and Lobster Salad served with mizuna and Zinfandel marmalade. Served with Fernand & Laurent Pillot, ‘Tavennes,’ Pommard, 2005. The imported pinot was very vibrant with a hint of wood and berry and was spectacular with the salad. This was the second winning course in a row. Considering the prawns were undercooked, I was a tad worried about the lobster, but I had no concerns on that regard. The richness of the lobster and the rare, succulent squab were great pairings heightened by the fresh greens. Excellent course.

Grass Fed Beef
, wood grilled, with potato gratin and baby carrots. Served with Robert Foley Vineyards Merlot, Napa, 2006. The wine was velvety and silky, true Howell Mountain characteristics of ripe berry and integrated spice. A very respectable offering, I wish I could get excited about simple protein courses. We were more interested in the perfectly round potato gratins and sauce. Don’t get me wrong; the meat was excellent and perfectly prepared, but it was just meat.

“Aria” cheese
baked in rye bread, apricot-whiskey, grapefruit. Served with Alois Kracher, Beerenauslese Cuvée, Burgenland, 2006. A triangle of cheese baked in a thin sliver of (what I assume to be homemade) rye bread. So many high-end restaurants fall short on the cheese plate, offering nothing other than a few slices with the routine nut and dried fruit accompaniment. This realization was well-conceived and executed. The hint of rye worked so well with the warm, creamy cheese. Just a few bites of grapefruit and apricot showed amazing restraint and brilliance. Fabulous.

Pink Pearl Apple Sorbet with Candied Fennel Cake and Fig Coulis. Served with Two Hands Brilliant Disguise, Moscato, Barossa, 2008. These little squares of fennel cake were scrumptious. This was a dessert I could get passionate about although the apple sorbet did not work with the sweet wine. Taking the miniature cakes on their own with the fig coulis and the wine was perfection. I could eat this several times over and wished I had stopped at this dessert. When we saw what the waiter was pouring, we asked for something larger than the small pours we had been receiving and were quite gratified that we were given a bit more. It was that stunning.

“Coconut Joy” – Dark chocolate mousse, milk chocolate glaze, with toasted almond ice cream. Served with Kobalt Cabernet Sauvignon Port, Napa, 2005. After the bliss of the fennel cake, this dessert was incredibly mis-guided in its execution. In the center of the mousse was a disk of coconut nougat the size of a quarter. A few bites of the mousse were fine, but when we got to the nougat, the mousse had to be destroyed to extract the disk. There was no way to cut the disk so biting it was the only way to take a small bite, only to discover it was hard and chewy. Served alongside was a larger disk of coconut meringue studded with almonds. Apparently the kitchen was trying to recreate an Almond Joy or Mounds bar, but failed short. The Port tasted good though.

Overall, it was a good evening. I’m not sure it was great. The successes certainly outweighed the detractions. I would go back for lunch.
Murray Circle on Urbanspoon

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply