Arriving at TRU a short man in a suit took our car while another held open the door - "You made it, please have a seat in the lounge while we prepare your table" said the hostess. 5 minutes passed and another man appeared to escort us to our table in the main dining room; chairs were pulled out for the ladies and purse-stools impressed my mother and sister while the synchronized pouring of water caused me to chuckle. Napkins - white or black, your choice - were handed out with tongs - menus too were passed out in-synch. Call it contrived, call it unnecessary - I call it an unsurpassed and impressive level of service...especially since this level continued throughout the entire 2 hour experience. Orders were placed - 4 dessert tastings, 3 coffees - and we were off.
Less than 10 minutes (and a cup of bold Intelligentsia poured from a truly ornate pitcher) passed before we were brought our first item - the bread basket. A bread basket, really? Of course, this is a tasting menu! In the bread basket were slices of cinnamon almond brioche and dark chocolate madelines - both stunning representations with rich flavors yet a subtle simplicity that went well with the coffee.
Following the breads we were informed that our first course, the fruit course, would be coming soon and we were provided a palate cleanser which was prepared tableside - Key Lime Soda with Mint and Melon. Slightly tart yet generally smooth the thin and slightly carbonated mix in a small glass provided a very unique sensation and did its job quite adequately.
For our fist true (no pun intended) course, two servings of two different dessert were brought and served (again simultaneously) to opposing diners - perfect for sharing. Dessert one - 'Greek Yogurt ' with Mint, Honey, Grapes, Raisins, Frozen Mint Julep was absolutely sublime and consisted of a sweetened Yogurt Pana Cotta with a core of organic clover honey, a chip of smooth and creamy mint candy, fresh and delicious golden and red grapes and raisins, and a heavenly mint julep icecream. Each item was spectacular on its own, but when consumed together the effect was completely different and the sum was certainly greater than its individual parts. This was my mother's favorite selection, by far.
The second dessert in course one was 'Pear' with Port Poached Bartlet, Pepper Crumble, Lemon Meringue, and Spun Sugar. While delicious in its own right, the portion of this dessert was simply too small to share between two persons and fully experience its nuance and subtlety. While the lemon and sugar flavors were pretty to look at, they were largely forgettable - especially compared to the richness of the pear and the sharp contrast of the peppery crumble.
Plates were cleared, more coffee poured, and as we discussed the dishes just consumed we got our first glimpse of the cheese cart and some of the savory items being served to a couple to our left....between the food, the opulent setting, and the service I definitely need to come back for dinner some time.
Dessert course two was the 'custard' course and once again provided two items. The first dish, 'Carmelized Banana Crepes' with Peanut Butter Curry Ice Cream, Peanut Praline, Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce was named my aunt's favorite of the evening and was undoubtedly fantastic, albeit simplistic compared to the complexity of the Greek Yogurt. A small delicate crepe was absolutely stuffed with sweet fingerling bananas that were bruleed for crispiness and then covered with a smooth caramel with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Along side the crepes was a flawlessly smooth peanut butter ice cream with hints of spice akin to and better than the Queen-City Cayenne served at Jeni's back home. For crunch, small pieces of candied peanuts were paired with a dense chocolate smear - the King himself would've loved this dish.
The second dessert of course two was certainly the most challenging in concept and potentially the best overall. 'Nutella' with Hazelnut Panna Cotta, Tellagio Cheese, Milk Chocolate, Creme Fraiche, Grapes, Grape Sorbet can only be described as the best peanut butter and jelly you've never had, Creamy smooth hazelnut panna cotta combined with lucious milk chocolate and creme fraiche provided an experience like Nutella, yet immensely more refined while the grape sorbet tasted like icey grape preserves, For texture, crisp cut grapes and crumbled hazelnuts made an appearance and the oddly placed Tellagio cheese chip provided a savory element that simply brought dish to a peak on the palate. Piece by piece or eaten as a whole, this dish was as much a work of art as a dessert and rivaled the figs at Trotter's early for most complex and wonderful dessert in a very long time.
The final dessert of the evening was specifically requested (despite the fact that the tasting is supposed to be chef's choice) and thankfully delivered - for it was the best of the night. 'Hot Chocolate Souffle' with Cayenne Pistacchio Crumbs, Saigon Cinnamon Ice Cream, Vanilla Marshmellow, 5-alarm Chocolate Sauce was nothing short off perfect and absolutely the best souffle to ever grace my tongue. Wonderfully light, spicy yet sweet, 'hot' yet refined by the ice-cream - not as complex as other dishes of the evening, but 'better.' Despite being very full I'd have eaten another two servings if I had the chance.
All told, between Trotter's and Tru I spent nearly $250 and six and a half hours on the nights festivities and don't regret the choice one bit - it was the best food day of 2008 and a wonderful way to spend time with friends and family both. For anyone looking for one of the best experiences in quality, quantity, service, and setting I would HIGHLY recommend checking out Tru - I will certainly be back.