The weather has been foul here in Northern California, but we had a small break on New Year's Eve. Hurray!! Nancy, Bob, Craig and I drove to Sacramento for a late night dinner at Biba, and we didn't risk life and limb driving in pounding rain and 30 mile an hour winds. The night was clear and warm. We arrived early and were whisked off to our table, where we were surrounded with balloons.
Before we arrived at the restaurant, Nancy agreed to act as Bread Police and prevent me from eating the wonderful focaccia and grissini bread sticks that are usually heaped in baskets on the table. I vowed to only have one grissini. To my disappointment, the bread basket contained neither, just some typical baguette slices. So, I wasn't tempted at all.
The five course menu featured fewer choices than normal. I was immediately disappointed to see no soft polenta anywhere on the menu. No grissini and no polenta!!! Nancy and I wondered if the kitchen would make it for us as a "surprise" (like they do at the French Laundry), if we told the waiter we were sad that it was missing from the menu. Bob then observed that we have become obnoxious by constantly comparing all restaurants to the French Laundry. Oh. Note to self: Stop being obnoxious. Not sure that is possible.
Craig and I chose the carpaggio as our appetizer. It arrived at our table plated so beautifully it seemed a shame to ruin it's appearance. But there was no point in just staring at it all night. The beef was sliced thinner than tissue paper and the house made mayonnaise was tangy with Worcestershire sauce, lemon and paprika. The photos of Nancy and Bob's appetizers are too awful to share. Bob had excellant grilled prawns with speck, while Nancy had sliced mushrooms and avocado.
The pasta at Biba is always wonderful and made at the restaurant. I had linguine with shrimp and scallops in a spicy sauce.
Craig was very enthusiastic about his pasta. It was homemade chestnut flour tagliatelle, with mixed mushrooms and smoked ham.
Bob and Nancy had the squash ravioli, with a sage butter sauce. I had a taste and it was one of the best pasta dishes I've ever eaten.
Bob and I chose the roasted breast of duck, with tart black cherries in a honey and port sauce. It was served with excellent braised, buttery fennel. The duck was very tender, with perfectly roasted skin and a lovely sweet sauce.
Craig had rosemary lamb chops, which he enjoyed, along with eggplant parmigiana.
Nancy had black pepper crusted salmon with roasted peppers.
After an OK salad of romaine, with gorgonzola and pine nuts, we had dessert. Craig and I chose the mango and raspberry sorbet. Very, very good.
Bob and Nancy chose a chocolate coated, dome shaped, rum scented pound cake stuffed with whipped cream, chocolate, roasted almonds and hazelnuts. I had a taste and it was very good. But, I think the sorbet ended the meal better.
Happy New Year everyone!!!!