Restaurant Week 2011: Cheuvront

Spring Restaurant Week presents a great opportunity to eat like a king (or queen) at a favorite upscale restaurant for a flat $30. We took the opportunity to transfer that prix fixe discount over to a couple glasses of guilt-free vino, and at Cheuvront, we had no trouble pairing our entrée with a damn fine Malbec.

The atmosphere at Cheuvront was refined and urban, while still being approachable. The clientele was varied, with couples, families, and even a raucous girls' night out livening up the joint. When we went the gloomy sky and light drizzle outside (fairly atypical here in the desert) also helped to highlight the warmth and brightness of this casual wine bar.

The starters at Cheuvront included a mushroom pastry and tuna tartar, as well as a pear salad or shrimp gazpacho. The buttery decadence of the pastry was grounded by an earthy, meaty mushroom mixture dotted with Comte cheese. The warm-from-the-oven turnovers were then drizzled with truffle oil that smelled divine.

The richness of these pastries was a good foil for the second starter we tried, an Ahi tartar. The brightness of this dish owed to its simplicity, with fresh, sashimi-style tuna coarse-chopped and tossed with a miso vinaigrette. It was then sprinkled with bright green tobiko, and the tiny roe created a briny, textural pop with each bite, which we layered atop the cucumber slices served on the side.

The entrée we sampled was a 3 oz filet cooked to medium-rare perfection and smothered in a rich demi glace. It was complemented by a hefty crab cake that was wrapped in an almost basket weave of what seemed like toasty shredded wheat. This delicate outer crust seemed like pretty much the only filler in an otherwise meaty crab cake that was chock full of creamy crustacean.

Dessert was the only misstep in an otherwise thoughtful and well-crafted meal. None of the offerings were all that interesting, so we opted for the classic strawberry cheesecake and a cheese plate. The cheesecake was so overdone that the only bite we took was straight out of the middle, where the pool of berry glaze had settled, and it still ended up being too dry and mealy to warrant the effort.

The cheese plate was by far the star of the course, with a large slice of Italian Fontina Val D'Aosta surrounded by strawberry slices, grapes, and dried cranberries. The toasty baguette slices on the side, and the wafer crackers with a luscious herb-packed cream cheese. The nutty, earthy cheese played well off the sweet-tart cranberries, and created the perfect ending to a delicious and well-executed meal (cheesecake notwithstanding).

Still contemplating a Restaurant Week dinner? Check out our other coverage of the prix fixe menus at Spasso, The Dhaba, and Beckett's Table so you know what to pick and what to skip.

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Erica O'Neil