Like things, good food happens for a reason. Such was the case on the Accidental Locavore's birthday. My husband thought he made reservations at Serevan, but when we pulled up, it appeared to be closed (and it was). We headed off towards Millerton, to see if we could get a table at No. 9, a favorite with friends of ours.
We pulled into Millerton, I went in and told the hostess our tale of woe. Soon we were seated at a lovely table. As it turned out, she was essentially alone in what is a decent sized restaurant, acting as hostess, waitress, bartender, et al. If you remember the scene in Ratatouille where the chef is on roller skates, tossing plates at diners, you start to see what Jessica was up against.
Even as she juggled her many hats, she took the time to explain items on the menu to us, and when asked, expressed an informed opinion as to the merits of various dishes. As per normal, Frank went along with her suggestions, while (like directions) I mostly ignored them. One of the attractions of No. 9 is they try to source locally as much as they can, but not at the expense of serving great food.
Ok, so I'm finally getting to the food. It was wonderful! It's very rare for me to have a meal in a restaurant where there are no false notes. Everything we ate at No. 9 was beautifully presented and, more importantly, absolutely delicious! I started with a tuna crudo, which was three perfectly sized pieces of tuna with bits of Meyer lemon and toasted pine nuts -- a great combination! Frank had the quark spatzle with vegetables and truffles, one of Jessica's suggestions and another winner!
We argued over the main courses; I'd been craving pork chops but decided on a leg of lamb special with a niçoise olive reduction over polenta. Local lamb that actually tasted like lamb -- so good! Humoring me (it was my birthday, after all), Frank had the pork chop. It was everything you'd want in a pork chop and more. Perfectly cooked, with wonderful seared pork fat edges, it was all I could do to keep from stealing more bites.
I need to say something about the dessert menu, because it was the first one I've seen in a long time where I would have happily eaten most of the desserts. Although you always hear restaurant people (or maybe just talking heads on Top Chef) saying that dessert is the last impression diners have of a restaurant, recently it's been super-easy to bypass them. Too cute, too nostalgic, too savory or too uninteresting, choices have been extremely disappointing. Not so here! My bittersweet chocolate cake and salted caramel ice cream (that Jessica was kind enough to substitute for the crème Anglaise) were both fabulous.
We were back to No. 9 a few weeks later with friends, on a Saturday night. Once again, everything was terrific, possibly a better testament to the ability of chef Tim Cocheo to turn out great food under pressure (a full house and a celebrity chef in orange clogs dining with his family). This time, because we were four, there was lots more food to taste. From perfectly crisp asparagus in that night's version of the quark dish, to a superb duck breast with a huge white asparagus, we enjoyed every bite! Our only quandary? When to go back!
Note: These photos don't do the food justice, but I was shooting in very low light, so use your imagination and trust me, it was all fabulous!