Embarrassingly, we'd owed Alexis and Bear a wedding gift since October 2011 -- even longer than we'd owed Harriet and Nick when we paid them off at Amass last July -- so when they came across the Atlantic in May, we took them to Rogue 24 to settle the debt. (I had high hopes of blogging this sooner, but all the anticipated free evenings in Geneva turned out to be a fantasy, so here we are in June.) We did the shorter menu at our last dinner, for Caleb's residency graduation back in 2013, so we went for the full Journey experience.
The potato paper shell was sort of chewy when it should have been crispy, but our first bite had great corn and seafood flavor.
The smoked tomato granita was easily the standout dish of the night. Great flavor, texture, and temperature contrasts. Just awesome. (Caleb questioned whether it might have contained meat, which was meant as a compliment.)
|smoked preserved tomato ice/hot oyster crema|
Bear's reaction captured the table's feeling perfectly:
The Kushi oyster was my worst dish of the night -- actually kind of gross. The liquid was described as sake-yuzu, but badly needed acid, leading us to speculate that the yuzu was inadvertently omitted. (The menu description of cucumber instead suggests that it was a mistaken description, not a kitchen omission.) A nice oyster was dragged down by the texturally unpleasant, thickish liquid that had no discernible flavor.
|kushi oysters/cucumber/sake/puffed black rice|
The halibut skin was very nice (and reminiscent of Willows Inn). The substitution meringue was light and a bit sweet -- totally fine -- but seems like we were the losers on this course. (We'd triumph on a later substitution for the foie gras.) Beth said the watermelon and chicken skin was delicious, but had too much fruit in the ratio to the skin.
|puffed halibut skin/halibut brandade/seaweed powder|
creme fraiche meringue (substitution)
The potato foam was kind of tasteless, but I liked the caviar and gelee combination (although I would have preferred a more mild caviar to highlight the gelee a bit more). Adam liked this one less than Beth and I. It went well with the recommended wine, a 2012 Nuhberg Alte Reben Wiener Gemischer Satz (with which we weren't familiar, so I'm not sure what is the varietal/maker/other identifying information). (I enjoyed the whimsical plating.)
|paddlefish caviar/caper-onion gelee/toasted potato skin air|
Rogue 24 apparently does excellent things with tomatoes; the clear gazpacho and razor clams dish (adorned with bits of tomato and avocado, I believe) was another evening highlight. Lovely and light.
|clam/clear gazpacho/green almonds/sea grass|
The meat eaters agreed that our substitute veloute won the next round (regardless of whether they tasted both dishes or only the foie gras). Silky artichoke veloute, parmesan espuma, crispy artichoke, and citrus gel. (I think -- our printed menus unfortunately didn't list the pescatarian substitutions.) Very good, and nice with the champagne that Adam had brought (a 1998 Selosse Grand Cru blanc de blanc brut).
Beth on the foie gras: "Roadkill in the texture of saw dust, soaked in tequila, with a side of sock."
|foie gras/tequila-vanilla/banana fresno compote|
The slightly bruleed uni was heavier than urchin is often served, paired with great forbidden rice -- almost meaty in complexity, the rice salty in a good way. The carrot sauce underneath didn't stand out, but the dish was nevertheless another highlight. Visually beautiful.
|sea urchins/[duck-kombu jelly/]fermented black rice/yellow carrot puree|
Yes, I'm a sucker for smokey flavors, but they made for another excellent course.
|smoked mussels/ember roasted purple carrots/bronze fennel|
Bulgar substituted for the the lamb for us, and I think there were also bits of lightly fermented turnip and onion. I've had so many good nasturium-adorned dishes over the last few years that I get excited whenever I see them now. Lovely -- slightly Middle Eastern, good acid.
|lamb kibbeh/nasturtiums/lemon-yogurt dressing/oat cracker|
The crispy onions tasted like a fancy bar snack -- I love salty bar snacks, and anything with mustard seeds -- but it felt like the dish needed a protein to really come together. (Maybe the omitted ice cream helped.)
|onions/leeks/[smoked tallow-malt ice cream/]mustard seeds|
Our next course was a beautiful homage to spring, with English peas, snap peas, and pea shoots. Excellent salt and acid (was goat whey used in addition to the dollops of bright lemon curd?), and just delicious.
|peas/goat curd/mint flowers/chlorophyll/olive oil jam|
I didn't jot down any notes on our substitution of beet for beef heart, which means it was probably good -- neither bad enough to warrant particular negative comments, nor exciting enough to leave much of an impression.
|beef heart tartare[/beet]/yolk/potato puff/bull's blood beet bubbles|
But I do remember how delicious I found the plated cheese course that followed. Rich, cheesy custard was cut by espelette oil and a slight sweetness from the (rye?) croutons.
|parmesan rind custard/wild asparagus/black truffle crouton/lemon ash|
Salsify subbed for pork jowl, and both the salsify and strawberry had a nice grilled smokiness (although I wished the salsify was more tender). Very good.
|pork jowl[/salsify]/dandelions/green strawberries/strawberry-rhubarb "coulis"|
The seared monkfish with duxelles was also very good, with a nice balance of sweet, acidic, and earthy.
|monkfish[/lardo]/cepe mushrooms/nasturtiums/smoked hay-red wine jus|
Our mushroom needed seasoning, but otherwise this was a very interesting dish. "Challenging in a good way," per Adam. (I was particularly into the Brussels sprouts kimchi.)
|duck/beet gastrique/black walnut milk/brussel kimchee/sour cherries|
Unfortunately, although I'd specified no octopus when I called to give our dietary restrictions, I didn't think to clarify/reiterate that night. When our last savory course ended up being octopus, I didn't eat it.
|beef[/octopus]/thai coconut broth/dried seaweed|
The babysitter for Alex and Nate had to be asked to stay later, and as the extended deadline was bearing down on us, we asked if they could speed things up. (Not really the restaurant's fault -- we hadn't felt that the pacing was unnecessarily slow, given the number of courses.) As a result, we were brought all the desserts at the same time, and in the flurry of arrivals, I gave up on taking notes and just enjoyed. It was a string of interesting, beautiful dishes. I disliked the coffee sponge less I might have, and I believe others really liked it.
|rogue blue cheese/almond/raisins/coffee sponge/verjus air|
I love a light, vegetal dessert.
|happy endings/little things/small bites|
By this point, the others were obsessively tracking their uber while we paid the check. Overall, it turned out to be a great wedding present choice -- a lot of fun, interesting, all but one dish were at least very good, and there were some definite standouts -- reminding us that we need to keep Rogue 24 more frequently in the rotation. I'm definitely not going to wait two years to go back!