I was recently afforded the chance to taste a sampler of Pyramid Restaurant‘s upcoming fall and winter menus, and, mmmmm, does Chef Andre Natera (above) have tasty goodness in store for diners!
The selections were full of rich, sumptuous textures, comforting, stick-to-your-ribs entrees and end-of-year fruits and veggies aplenty. Do keep in mind that the following entrees will dot the menu over the next several months and won’t necessarily appear at the same time. Got it? Good. Let’s have at it!
We started with an amuse-ing mini-cup of roasted butternut squash bisque with chorizo dice. The portion was maddeningly tiny, considering its deliciousness. The salty sausage bits added a nice spice and texture kick to the velvety, creamy pureed squash. The soup brought to mind cuddling under a blanket in front of a roaring fire at home. Yeah.
The salad course consisted of a wondrous arugula salad tossed in roasted onion vinaigrette and fried capers with a quartet of heirloom carrots rolled up and filled with local goat cheese. Yes, the goat cheese stopped me in my tracks, as chevre isn’t one of my favorite ingredients in the world. Buuuuut, the sweetness of the carrots minimized the bitter gaminess of the cheese nicely. Plus its creaminess contrasted beautifully with the tangy, crisp greens. A win!
The next dish was slap-yo-mama good, as well as enticingly presented. As soon as the lid was lifted off the butter-poached lobster, a waft of the infused smoke hit our noses. Delightful. Even more interesting was the side: agnolotti pasta stuffed with grits. YES! Rounded out with melted leeks, the dish seemed to be savored sloooowly by the foodie media mafia members at the table. Sommelier Hunter Hammett’s Carneros-bred Bouchaine chardonnay cut through the butterfat of the dish beautifully — I couldn’t stop sampling it and the fresh, tender lobster together! A dreamy bowl of food …
Mind you, I was full at this point, thanks completely to my weakness for Pyramid’s bread basket and soft butta (although, in the only minor misstep of the night, our tubs of butter were missing the signature granules of salt usually sprinkled on top! Wah!), but I would not be deterred from snarfing down almost every bite of food put before me. (Note to self: hit the gym twice this weekend.)
Our main meat dish was a roasted lamb chop over mushroom risotto swimming in a zinfandel reduction (above). Once I fished out the scary (to me) morels, I found the risotto to be a creamy, earthy delight. The lamb was cooked to a medium doneness that rendered it meltingly tender, and the accompanying sauce beefed up its meaty flavor. Quite the sexy dish.
At THIS point, as if I weren’t already stuffed, chef had a two-part dessert planned for us (note to self: hit the gym thrice this weekend). The sweets showed off the formidable talents and thoughtfulness of the Pyramid’s pastry chef Maggie Huff. We started with a maple panna cotta crowned with apple gelee and apple-bacon-raisin chutney, all in a jar, and a set of hot apple doughnut holes. The maple, the custard, the fruit, the bacon, the crisp, sugary pastry — there was an abundance going on in the taste and texture departments, and it all worked seamlessly. I wished I could’ve taken it to go to savor on an empty stomach on another occasion … you know, under a blanket in front of a roaring fire!
Second Dessert was a mini pineapple upside-down cake with macadamia brittle-coconut ice cream. My nonexistent sweet tooth had been more than sated by now, so my palate found this entree to be a tad cloying, but I probably would’ve felt differently if this had been presented as First Dessert.
Overall, the Pyramid dinner was a sublime treat from the top to bottom and, to me, only underscores Chef Natera’s standing as one of the city’s underrated kitchen masters. Then again, I am about to head to the March of Dimes food-and-wine charity Whisk It Up, where his cheffery will be on display among 19 other top chefs in the city, so perhaps he’s not underrated at all … perhaps I just want to keep him and his kitchen staff a happy little secret, hehe.