I'm going to tell you something shocking- something I have never told you before: I am a fan of Barbara Lynch. I know- I haven't made this statement 100 times before-it is very surprising (please see here if my sarcasm isn't strong enough:-) ). Seriously though, when Jessie emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I'd like to join some fellow food bloggers for a Restaurant Week dinner at Sportello, a Barbara Lynch establishment in the Fort Point Channel area of town, well I immediately agreed. We assembled at the restaurant around 7:00, a glorious bunch of bloggers- Alicia, Jessie, Katie, Lara and Peter, and sat at one large communal table. The beauty of Sportello is that it was designed as an upscale lunch counter, so the majority of the restaurant is actually a big counter space. In keeping with the theme there is even a bakery case showing off beautiful cupcakes, cakes and cookies.
Dinner began with slices of fresh bread served with whipped ricotta cheese, drizzled with olive oil, and accented with a lovely piece of fig. I believe that this was my first experience with whipped ricotta, and I was amazed at how creamy and smooth the consistency was. Ricotta is known for being somewhat granular, so to be served this light and delicious alternative- it was really quite special. The olive oil played well into the smooth texture by accentuating the decadence and the fig provided the perfect sweet contrast. Spread onto bread the flavor was subtle, but delicious.
Next, the table was served a delightful amuse bouche, Lynch's take on Salmon Tartar served on a crostini. The Tartar was wonderfully fresh tasting, with little dressing so that the salmon flavor shown through as the star. It was a lovely start to the meal.
I began my three course experience at Sportello with their corn soup, billed as local corn, chanterelle mushrooms and scallions. This was a perfect bowl of corn soup with wonderfully contrasting flavors. The soup itself was a perfect showcase of our delicious local corn. Every spoonful of the delicious, and frothy liquid reminded me of each bite of corn on the cob-with all of the pleasure and none of the work. The chanterelle mushrooms played an interesting supporting role. They had been soaked in an acidic wash, vinegar for sure but I thought I picked up on some citrus notes as well. This bath lent a completely different taste to the soup in complete opposition to the cream of the corn. The combination of the two together was fully outstanding as the soup mellowed any bite of the acidic mushroom. Finally, the scallions artfully placed on top of the soup provided a further, subtler relief from the monotone soup making it a complete joy to eat. In my book, the soup stole the show.
My second course was destined to pale in comparison to the soup, but through no fault of it's own. I selected the sirloin for my main, served with sliced local potatoes, hen of the woods mushrooms and salsa verde. The steak was delicious though a far on the rare side of the house rather than the beautiful medium rare I'm normally accustomed to. It was was well flavored, and beautifully tender. The salsa verde, predominantly parsley based, was the perfect accent to the rich steak, lightening the flavors. The hen of the woods mushrooms that we served were absolutely lovely, strong and almost crisp like, a nice back bone to the potatoes that were thinly sliced and soft in the centers. I did note that there was a bit too much oil used in the saute of the potatoes and that resulted in a bit of a greasy feel. In contrast to the mushrooms it actually worked nicely, but potato on its own, it was rather over powering.
I closed out my meal with the final course of chocolate bread pudding, with a lovely caramel sauce and a beautiful pillow of whipped cream. The pudding, on its own, was delicious. Made with what appeared to be a nice bittersweet chocolate, it wasn't overpoweringly sweet as some desserts can be. The flavor of the chocolate was strong, rounded by the creamy flavor the bread had taken on. The homemade caramel sauce was delightful, and something we had all been craving since we had entered the restaurant and smelled the butter cooking. Isn't melted butter a glorious scent? The whipped cream was lovely, providing perfect contrast to both the bittersweet and the sweet caramel.
Sportello has been on my list of spots to try for quite some time and I am thrilled that I was finally able to get there last night! The food was fantastic, our server was lovely despite having to put up with six food bloggers, our intense questions and our incessant photography, and the company was divine. I will definitely return to Sportello again, and probably, quite soon!