I think of the meal I shared at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw as a series of gifts from Chef Jonathan Seningen and Sommelier Phil Heyser, presented on behalf of Elizabeth, who greeted us and oversaw our meal personally.
The procession began with a flute of Cava that would delight any vintage Champagne lover. The 2010 Naveran woke up the palate, readying it for the ensuing feast of flavors and textures. The bacon-wrapped date amuse set a decadent tone. Rich coconut marinated and infused with flavor from a long cold smoke was bacony and satisfying.
The gifts continued with warm corn and hen of the woods soup & 2009 Louis Jadot, “Chateau des Jaques”, Moulin a′ Vent, a Beaujolais (gamay) with a touch of pinot noir. The rich creamy base of the soup was silken and alive with sweet and earthy flavor. A spoonful with a piece of springy mushroom followed by a sip of the berry-laden wine would have won over any Frenchman. As with so many other moments during this meal, what was most noteworthy about this course was the deliciousness; the fact that the food was vegan and raw was an impressive afterthought.
We went on to be presented with my two favorite dishes, and what was probably the most versatile wine of the evening, 2010 Chateau Montfort Vouvray. This wine plays with the sweetness of the chenin blanc variety and achieves a style just between sec and demi sec (Heyser has a great nose for these blue notes of the region). The dynamic flavors of the wine, bitter, sweet, and rich, would be too powerful on it’s own for most, though proved an excellent companion to the appetizer, palate cleanser and the house made spicy and tangy kale chips.
The ravioli appetizer was made with thin sheets of apples and beets encasing creamy macadamia nut ricotta, nestled on a bed of diced winter vegetables beside piquant fennel vinaigrette foam that was too delicious to be pretentious. The varying levels of acidity and earthy flavors worked wonderfully with the notes of sweet wooly richness in the wine. The palate cleanser was a chamomile and lemon sorbet with olive oil and sel gris. The delicate flavors of the sorbet were deeply enhanced by the pungency and richness of the salt and olive oil. I couldn’t resist trying it with the Vouvray, which was a pleasant reminder of how differently a wine expresses itself depending on the context. It was delicious in a whole new way.
We were gifted an entree of banana squash tagliatelle with sage cream and 2009 Chateau Coudray Montpensier Chinon. The earthiness of this dish was a nice match with the cabernet franc, whose silken texture and dark fruit drew out the subtle sweetness of the squash. Filling and rich without being heavy, squash and radishes are quickly on their way to becoming the new pasta.
Sad to sip the last of the Chinon and to welcome the end of the meal, we were consoled with a generous slice of thick chocolate cheesecake with candied kumquats and hazelnuts and rich espresso sauce. I was nervous for Phil, I couldn’t imagine he had the right wine for this. He brilliantly presented us with Chokaisan Junmai Ginjo Nigori Namachozo sake, which was cool and refreshing between bites of dense espresso, pungent citrus, and creamy chocolate.
A coursed meal with wine pairings is by far one of my favorite ways to celebrate. The level of cuisine prepared was admirable in presentation, creativity and above all, taste. The accomplishments of Sommelier Phil Heyser is of equal status, with incredibly thoughtful and interesting wines that tasted great despite the challenge of working with only raw foods. Elizabeth’s Gone Raw offers a luxurious atmosphere with superior service to match the level of cuisine and complete the experience. With only a handful of reservations once a week (Friday dinner), it’s the kind of place that can fill up fast. I highly recommend making a reservation for a celebratory and memorable dining experience.
Favorite Dishes: ravioli and sorbet
Favorite wine: chinon
Favorite pairing: chocolate cheesecake with sake