Our friend Sean McClatchey is a chef there, so we followed his recommendations on food, starting with an appetiser of Oysters in a champagne sauce, followed by one entree each - The roasted breast of Duck served with pears and a raspberry sauce, and a thick Beef tenderloin topped with fois gras and Truffles. We ended the meal with two deserts, served sequentially - a dishe of white chocolate ice cream, and an Apple Tart, served with Clove ice cream.
For the wine, we asked their expert about a certain Zinfandel that had caught our eye because it was from the Shenandoah Valley. When we mentioned our tastes ran favorably to an Australian Shiraz but we wanted to try something different, she said we would probably like this Zinfandel, which was a soft wine that would go well with the food while still having some structure and character. We found all that to be true. The full identity of the wine is as such: Spelletich 2001 Zinfandel, "Tim and Edie's Vineyard" Shenandoah Valley, California.
The osyters were truly excellent. Anne commented that she has never had oysters that so melted in the mouth like butter. And the sauce was very tasty, such that we both spooned some on the nice Bread they left at the table. Sean says the main secret to the oysters is that they are kept alive until the very last moment, so they are as fresh as possible.
The Duck had the best texture of any of the dishes. A bite of the duck with some pear and a raspberry was deliciously satisfying to the whole mouth. Bill thinks there must have been some cherry in the sauce as well, but we don't really know.
The beef tenderloin Anne had medium rare, and came on a plate sitting in a rich sauce. With the size of the plate the tenderloin looked very small, but it was more than adequate. The center of the tenderloin was perfect, though one side of it was a touch dry. The foi gras and truffle made a really interesting, complex taste together with the marinated beef. No idea what was in the sauce, though some alcohol is suspected.
a dish of mushrooms and green beans was served on the side with the beef, and was really the most disappointing part of the meal - Anne *likes* green beans, but didn't finish them. They were very small and thin and pretty tasteless. Admitedly Anne doesn't like mushrooms much, but they oughtn't ruin green beans.
The White Chocolate Ice cream was interesting. Bill thought it tasted rather like Licorice. We ended up with it because we tried to ask about getting the fudge cake with white chocolate ice cream instead of the creme fresch, but were appearantly unclear.
The Apple desert was simply terrific. It had tasy apples with a tart bite to them, the way apples ought to be, excellent seasoning, and the clove ice cream melting against it was also a delight. The apples, like properly cooked vegetables, still had a touch of crispness and texture.
So we came out of it firmly recommending the Oysters, the Duck, and the Apple tart.
Perhaps we should also say something about the setting. The Earle Uptown is on the main floor of the Bell Tower Hotel. You enter through a door at the south side of the hotel lobby. It's not a large space - what a guide might call "intimate dining" - we had a reservation but didn't need one as it was not busy that night. Sean had recommended we come on a tuesday or wednesday. It's closed on Mondays and busy Thursday through Saturday. The table dressing was formal, but not particularly notable. The folders for the menu are very large, and Anne managed to knock her butter knife of the table with hers. The bar looks nice.
It all added up to a very nice night out.