Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Revisiting Ray's Killer Creek

Top Chef alum Tracey Bloom has taken over the helm at Ray's Killer Creek. Rarely can I be enticed OTP, but in this case, visions of a comped steakhouse meal beckoned. I've covered Killer Creek
before, but instead of their classic dishes, we dined on a tasting menu of Chef Bloom's new items.

There's just something about a traditional steakhouse vibe that makes you feel all cozy and sophisticated, and Killer Creek is no different. Attentive and somewhat formal service also adds to that vibe, especially with the black coats the waiter wear.

Chef Bloom came by with each course, and it was apparent that although she is proud of her new dishes, she is so very NOT into chatting with diners. If you recall her, and her shall we say distinctive voice, from Top Chef you can imagine that she's not a shmoozer. Still it was a nice touch for her to come by the table, and I'll give her extra props for doing something she probably hates!

A flatbread appetizer was redolent of truffle oil, which is always a good thing in my book! Given its size, we scooted most of the prosciutto, cheese and red peppers onto one half and ate just that. Definitely a bit cumbersome to eat, but it's hard to go wrong with that combination of flavors.

A potato soup was served in a teeny tiny cup, which was a good thing on a multi-course menu, but it was kind of hilarious trying to eat soup from something a child might use at a tea party. It was thick and hearty, perfect for a winter day if you're in a carb loading kind of mood.

A salad of pears poached in red wine, cinnamon and vanilla, with pecorino and arugula offered a lighter counterpoint to the soup and an appealing balance of sweet and salty.

My favorite dish of the meal was surprisingly enough a pasta. They thick house-made tagliattele noodles were served with a rich veal Bolognese - serious comfort food. Fresh pasta is one of the big things Bloom is doing that's new, so look out for other such dishes.

Lest we leave a steakhouse without any red meat, our final savory course was a tender short rib. Given the ubiquity of short ribs on menus these days, I'm not surprised to see a version here. Although short rib is nearly always a tasty bet, I think I still prefer the more standard rib-eye I had on a previous visit based primarily on the level of seasoning. I suppose I just like my red meat to be seasoned with a very heavy hand and this dish was fairly mild. Still it's short-rib, so it was enjoyable all the same.

The surprise highlight of the evening was actually the sommelier. The OTP crowd isn't as adventurous when it comes to wine, but that isn't stopping Killer Creek from stocking some more adventurous wines. When we weren't sure what glasses to order, he brought out numerous bottles and orchestrated an impromptu tasting for us of various varietals and vineyards. How rare is that level of service, for by the glass orders no less? We ultimately selected a 2006 Rombauer Cabernet and a 2006 C. Donatiello Russian River Valley Pinot. The Rombauer had the black cherry and chocolate flavors I most love in a cab and is well worth the splurge for a fairly high by the glass price.

I admire that Chef Bloom is trying to challenge the suburban steakhouse set, but I am also glad to know that she's keeping the standard fare the restaurant does so well, too. In the end, what made the night for us, though, was service. The entire staff is finely tuned to keep you happy, and we left feeling pleasantly full, tipsy and well taken care of.

Ray's Killer Creek on Urbanspoon
*Full disclosure: Although my meal was comped, I always endeavor to offer my unbiased opinion of the experience!



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