As many of you know, my birthday is September 27th (yes, less than two shopping weeks for those of you who must and you know who you are). However, given to the possibility that my birthday could fall on Rosh Hashanah (I was born on the second day) or Yom Kippor, years ago, I took to extending the celebration over a few days (plus dinners out with different friends, family, etc.). Well, when I hit 40, I decided I merited not just a week but a month, which worked quite nicely, usually starting two weeks prior to my birthday, and finishing sometime in October. I've also found this mode of celebration healthier - after 2000, when a week of constant celebrating, landed me in the hospital with gall stones (and later removal of offending organ - yes I'm sure the cannoli, and rich cheeses had something to do with it too). Anyway, now at least, I can usually dole out these fattening meals over the course of four weeks, rather than one, letting me plan better. Anyway, I digress.
As it's September, it's time for the month of Kim. This year we decided to kick off the celebration with my parents at a restaurant on LBI known as The Gables. When this restaurant first opened, it had several claims to fame 1) they had no menu 2) the evening's menu was determined by what the chef bought fresh in the market that morning 3) therefore, when you made your reservation, they would verify/clear any food-related issues with you (i.e., allergies and extreme dislikes), 4) you showed up and were served whatever the chef created that day in a multi-course extravaganza 5) oh, and they didn't have a liquor license, so it's BYO (bring your own beer/wine) - yeah.
A few years ago, the owners sold the restaurant, actually to neighbors of my parents, who have since renovated the restaurant and the corresponding Bed&Breakfast and while keeping the "tasting" menu have also added some a la carte selections for dining. Everything else, menu-wise stays the same, fresh, local ingredients, no liquor license etc though they no longer clear food-related issues when you make the reservation.
The plan for Friday was we would head to the beach after the girls got home from school, and Chris, who was working in Armonk, would meet us there. Well, you all know the saying about best laid plans... Chris, hit bookoo traffic on the Parkway (as if anyone expects anything different on a Friday night, in the rain), and ended up meeting us at the restaurant, an hour late. Oh well, we didn't wait, starting with our appetizers and much prosecco.
Mom started with the duck confit, which wasn't confit served atop something else, like a salad, but the leg of the duck, akin to what I enjoyed in Paris on our first night there. It was delicious. I opted for the Caprese salad, figuring I only have a few weeks left to enjoy Jersey tomatoes so I should take advantage of it (by the way, it was drizzled with some aged balsamico and garnished with baby arugula which added a nice sweet, spicy combo). Dad hit the winner though with the lobster bisque. I still don't know the seasoning but man it was good. By about this time, Chris finally arrived, and having the benefit of our experience, opted for the lobster bisque too.
For our entrees, Chris ordered the tenderloin (aka fillet Mignon), Dad had the duck breast but Mom and I both asked if we could go off the board, and order the entree from the tasting menu (you can't get the tasting menu at the table unless everyone at the table orders it - standard procedure) but they were nice enough to accommodate us and served us both the lamb chops with asparagus and sweet potatoes.
Okay - two points on the entrees, Chris asked for his fillet to be rare, when it arrived and he cut it, it was more medium. He didn't get a chance to say anything (nor was he going to after holding us all up for an hour) but the waitress glanced down, saw how the steak was prepared, apologized profusely and took it back to the kitchen to get another one that's not "mis-fired." Chris didn't wait long.
Now, for mine and mom's entree, the lamb was cooked and seasoned perfectly, with a nice portion of four baby lamb chops. But forget that, what drew me to the lamb as an entree, was the description of the sweet potatoes (I'm a sucker for side dishes), pureed sweet potatoes topped with baby marshmallows! C'mon, I know it's cliche but any chef in a fine dining restaurant that can have a bit of whimsy by topping his sweet potatoes with some little tiny marshmallows gets props in my book! I tried to take a picture with my cell phone but the candlelight setting didn't provide enough light. Trust me though - this was way cool. In all the excitement of the lamb, I totally forgot to snag a taste of Dad's duck breast, which I'm assuming was delicious because his plate looked practically licked clean.
For dessert, Mom opted for the ubiquitous chocolate lava cake (but really how can you go wrong with that), while I had the apple cake. Both topped with house-made vanilla ice cream (the other choice for the evening was anise ice cream but neither of us are black licorice fans, so we opted for vanilla - cinnamon though would have been an excellent accompaniment).
Now for prices, this is not an inexpensive restaurant. I won't even go to reasonable. Entree prices ran from in the high twenties, to $55 for Chris's steak. Personally, I think the tasting menu at $85 is a bargain when looking at the a la carte prices. But remember, they don't make any money here on liquor like most other establishments with their 100% mark-up on wine, so you do get some savings in that respect (i.e., you bring your own and can spend as much as you like on the liquor). So, is it worth it? Yeah, when celebrating special occasions like the Month of Kim or when Mom and Dad pay ;D. Would I eat here regularly? Unfortunately not because of the prices. If I could afford to eat here regularly? In a heart beat.