For my birthday dinner this month, K took me to Qube. I had heard good things about the restaurant from the various magazines and local food columns I read. The thing that intrigued me about the restaurant, was their "Qube Pairings". That is, three ingredients done three ways. Order the turf pairing and you get two different seafood proteins done three ways each plus a dessert item done three ways. Same goes for the turf pairing or the vegetarian pairing. The cool thing is you can also mix and match pairings, which is what we ended up doing. It was a lazy Wednesday and we actually had another restaurant in mind. Things happened and the first restaurant wasn't going to be up to par so we racked our brains and I came up with Qube. We got all dolled up and took a cab downtown ready for some three way action (I can't help it if you have a dirty mind, I'm talking about food here!). The decor of Qube is modern with Asian accents. Lots of chrome vs. wood vs. white fabric. Very clean feeling but not uninviting. It wasn't a very busy night and we were treated very well. I was really impressed by the excellent service. Extremely attentive but not overwhelmingly so, and very charming and personable. Nothing kills a restaurant for me like lousy service. The food can even be the best thing I ever ate but if the service is poor, I'll never return. Qube has nothing to worry about in that department. I give them an A+.
Instead of starting out with the usual bread and butter we were served a platter of naan flatbread with two dipping sauces. One was a mango chutney and the other was a sesame tahini spread. The naan was crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and the sauces were delicious. I'm not big on mango chutney but I liked the heat that tore through the sweetness of the fruit. I love sesame and I gobbled up the tahini.
First Course: Surf - Wild Caught Sea Scallop
Tartare of Passion Fruit-Cured Scallop - The passion fruit cure gave the already sweet scallop another dimension of sour/sweetness that blew me away a little. The scallop was still nearly raw but slightly opaque from the ceviche style cure. Very smart and delicious.
Smoked Scallop Tres Minces - The quenelle of finely minced smoked scallop had a good amount of smokiness to it which seemed to play off the sweetness of the scallops very well. I liked the texture of the mince and the flavors were clean and simple.
Scallop Mousse Nori Maki - A pretty clever scallop reconstruction, taking scallop mousse and shaping it back into scallop form and wrapping it maki sushi style with nori seaweed. The scallop mousse almost had the texture of a seafood sausage and of course it went well with the nori.
First Course: Turf - Sonoma Foie Gras
Creme Brulee de Foie Gras - This is definitely the most decadent creme brulee I've ever had. Foie and truffle custard topped with delicious caramelized sugar. I knew it was going to be good the second I cracked my spoon through the dark amber crust giving way to the creamy interior. It was rich and buttery and delicious.
Torchon paired with Mango Compote - Torchon is the French word for kitchen towel. The foie gras is cured overnight with salt and sugar and sometimes cognac. Then it is wrapped in cheesecloth or a towel and most of the liquid is squeezed out. This torchon had a lovely delicate flavor and matched well with the sweet mangoes. I not too big a fan of silky meat textures so that was a small hurdle for me. However the flavors got me over my texture issue and it was perfect on the toast points.
Sauteed Foie Gras with Pickled Lychee and Balsamic Cinnamon Gastrique - This is how I prefer my foie. Sauteed golden brown on the outside and creamy on the inside. I love that satisfying caramelized crunch on the surface. The pickled lychee and gastrique served well as a sweet and sour foil to the rich foie gras.
Second Course: Surf - Atlantic Dover Sole
Dover Sole with Sake, Shiso, and Miso Broth - Dover sole is a very delicate fish. Too many outside flavors and the fish will be lost. I really enjoyed the sole with the shiso leaf and the sake and miso broth was very light. The bowl used for this dish was a little awkward. I kept tipping the bowl when I cut the fish and thought I was going to wind up with a lap full of miso. Perhaps there didn't need to be so much broth. It was vey tasty though.
Pave of Dover Sole on Scallions, Soy, and Sesame - This dish was done well but not too different from the miso sole. Good Asian flavors with the sesame and soy. Nothing too exciting but still a good sole dish.
Dover Sole Fillet with Saffron Cream Sauce - This dish was my favorite of the Dover sole course. The fillet was nestled in a nice creamy saffron and crab sauce. The sauce was not too heavy and also went well with the dense bricks of coconut rice that accompanied the course.
Second Course: Turf - Snake River Kobe Beef
Flat Iron Steak with Ume Truffle Butter - This was probably my favorite dish of the night. The flat iron steak was tender, juicy, and cooked perfectly. Simple and delicious. Boise Idaho's Snake River Farm does a great job raising American kobe beef.
Top Round Korean Bulgogi Style - I love Korean bulgogi BBQ. The beef had a good bbq flavor and wasn't too sweet which I liked. I only wish I'd had some lettuce to wrap it in (my favorite way to eat bulgogi).
Shortrib Ravioli with Wasabi Demi Glace - The ravioli were amazing little pillows of shortrib goodness. I like the play on Asian and Euro flavors in here. The slightly spicy wasabi demi went very nicely with the elegant ravioli. I wanted about ten more of these!
Third Course: Dessert - Watsonville Strawberries
Ginger Bavarois - Bavarois is an airy Bavarian cream and Qube's version had a hint of ginger with candied ginger and strawberries on top. A very nice, light dessert.
Coconut Shortbread - A fun take on strawberry shortcake. I really liked the coconut cookie and who doesn't like strawberries and cream. I know I do.
Caramel-coated Strawberry - Simple and delicious. Fresh, plump strawberries with house made caramel. What more can you say about that? This was my favorite of the desserts.
Third Course: Dessert - Valrhona White Chocolate
Gilded Pot de Creme - I have to be honest with you, I'm not a big white chocolate fan but K wanted this course so I went with it. I was pretty surprised at how mild the sweetness of the chocolate was. Not overpowering and pretty tasty. The pot de creme was silky and smooth and not what I expected. I actually enjoyed it.
Mousse with Jasmine Pineapple - Once again the white chocolate surprised my taste buds and the fragrant jasmine pineapple was a nice touch. A very elegant dessert.
Fondue with Fresh Fruit - Beautiful fresh figs and berries with a decadent white chocolate fondue. A very timeless way to end a meal. Fondue is always fun and this one was unexpectedly delicious. I was pretty impressed by the white chocolate course. Not being a fan of the product, I actually had my mind changed a little bit on what the stuff really tastes like. I guess I had never really had quality white chocolate before and that really makes a difference (duh). I should know better. Shame on me!
Such an excellent meal and experience. My only negative critique would be that maybe some of the plates and platters were a bit much (too large). Perhaps more rectangle plates would look cleaner and less empty. To each their own though, and I'm just nitpicking. It was a great meal with excellent service and the next time we go back I want to try some of their single plate items. I think that first time visitors should test out the Qube sets. They're like a culinary rollercoaster, only without the long lines and the motion sickness. Even if there were long lines to get into Qube, I would wait. It's worth it.