Lon really knows how to make a girl happy. I’ve been talking about how I want to be a judge on Iron Chef, so for my birthday, he called up a few restaurants to find out who would make a salmon tasting menu just for me. I would get to taste and judge each dish. The idea alone made me feel special enough, but Chef /Owner Jeremy Marshall at Aquagrill Aquagrill came up with quite an impressive menu, which was then executed almost flawlessly by his Chef de Cuisine John, only I’m pretty sure it took them more than the one hour Iron Chef would allot. They even printed a nice little menu for me.

The eight courses of salmon were all well thought out, highlighting different types of salmon and different preparations, ordered in a progression that made sense, and overall just impressed us very much.

The Aquagrill Salmon Tartare with Gauffrette Potato and Chive Oil was a good way to start, a bite sized display of light, familiar flavors.

Before the 2nd tasting plate, we were given some house breads, a good cornbread with some kick, a fresh ciabatta, and a very moist onion focaccia.

Next, the Scottish Smoked Salmon with Warm Buckwheat Blinis, Dill Pesto and Salmon Caviar in a Creme Fraiche Sauce. One of my two favorite dishes, every single component was perfect. The blini was so soft; the dill pesto refreshing; and the smoked salmon was amazingly tender. When you top that off with salty salmon eggs and creme fraiche sauce, the combination is magical and really highlights the salmon. I’m really sorry that the picture doesn’t do justice to how beautifully this dish was plated.

What salmon tasting would be complete without Crispy Smoked Salmon Skin? Here, they were crispy on one side, yet soft on the other where a bit of salmon meat was left on, a nice touch to a standard baby green salad with wild mushrooms and roasted garlic cloves. Lon even ate the mushrooms as an extra birthday present.

Columbia River King Salmon Sashimi was a delicious dish but gets a few point deductions according to Iron Chef rules. The soy sauce was a bit over-powering for the sashimi, so I couldn’t taste this special salmon as much as I would have liked to. The spicy Japanese eggplant (underneath, but you can’t see) was phenomenal, kind of outshining the salmon. The texture was meaty and tender, not oily, and an amazing combination of a bit sweet, a hint of sour, and just a tad spicy. Lon and I wanted a whole plate of just that eggplant.

Warm Peppered Arctic Char (technically not a salmon but in the same family so we’ll let that slide) was perfect with the cool cucumber salad, and seasoned just so spot on. I wish you could see more clearly how perfectly it was coated and seared. Just beautiful!

The Hot Smoked Atlantic Salmon Souffle was our least favorite dish. It wasn’t bad, just extremely heavy (read: egg-y and butter-y) and the salmon on the bottom was a bit harder then the rest of the dishes. The Smoked Salmon Creme Fraiche Sauce was unique and better than the souffle, also helped it by cutting the fat a bit. We were so impressed with the presentation and even more so the innovation that we were still glad to have sampled this dish.

The Falafel Crusted Atlantic Salmon with Hummus, Cucumbers, Tomatoes in a Lemon Coriander Vinaigrette was pure genius! While this dish is a decomposition of a falafel sandwich, it centered on the salmon; yet we loved it for all the reasons we love falafel sandwich: crunchy falafel, thick smooth hummus, cool tomatoes (which were peeled) and cucumbers, with a tangy dressing that I could lap up like a dog! You’re in luck because we found out that this is a regular dish on their menu. Please go and have it!!

Our final dish was Lon’s favorite, Roasted Wild White Alaskan King Salmon with an Asparagus Risotto in a Mushroom Truffle Emulsion. This salmon was certainly unique, the flesh being a lot tighter than other types of salmon, kind of like swordfish, yet still flaked and parted the way salmon usually does. The risotto was wonderfully creamy and perfect for holding all the different parts together. Each bite must include white salmon, risotto, asparagus, and the rich mushroom emulsion to get the full glory, a perfect winter-y dish and a comforting end to the rainy day dinner.

We were already stuffed after the white salmon, but of course we couldn’t stop at eight courses… two courses for dessert rounded out the meal to a perfect ten! The Tropical Fruit and Sorbet was refreshing, nothing unique, but I really liked the fruit concasse.

The Warm Chocolate Cake served as my birthday cake. It wasn’t unique either, served with whipped cream, raspberry and chocolate sauces, but it was plated nicely. It was on the light side for chocolate cake, which was good, because it was less sweet, but it was also less chocolatey.

Overall, we had an amazing evening, with wonderful service and great food. The ingredients used were top notch, and the pacing was comfortable, we hadn’t noticed that 3 1/2 hours had passed. I don’t remember exactly how the judging on Iron Chef goes but out of a possible 10 for each, I give Flavor: 9 , Presentation: 9, Originality: 8, Use of Ingredient: 8 and trust me, those are very high scores coming from me.

Thank You to the team at Aquagrill for an incredibly memorable birthday dinner!

posted by jessica at 08:48 PM Filed under Favorites, Fusion or Mixed, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.