Cafe Reviews

Seasons Eatings

Page 3 of 3

Another evening's special is petite fillet of beef ($30), grilled and topped with melted, nutty-toned foie gras. Accompanying confit and roasted shallot potatoes are excellent partners, especially the gorgeous chunky mashed potatoes zipped with peppercorn. Yet the medium-rare requested beef is cold in the middle, and the entree paddles furiously to keep its head above a virtual lake of overpowering Madeira sauce.

The same red port wine jus threatens to capsize my sautéed organic veal tenderloin ($31). The two thick loins are tender and tasty with a sweet, just-burned aroma, but drown beneath a soup bowl full of sauce. Mushroom hominy is much too fragile to survive the tidal wave and clings hopelessly to a side of wet -- very wet -- spinach.

Heavy saucing also sinks a white King salmon fillet special ($29), not because of its quality, but because the menu describes it as a bouillabaisse. I'm expecting a lighter seafood broth, but find a creamy, buttery-rich concoction dotted with squash, braised fennel and fingerling potatoes. The sautéed fish is exceptional, though, crisply crusted and topped with three pale shrimp. Pork loin ($29) is lovely, too, a happy parade of medallions marching around a mound of pesto orzo and very sweet shredded spaghetti squash topped with dried tomato frizzles. The meat's been rubbed in a curious cinnamon chile blend that pleases me greatly.

Perhaps saving the best for last, Acacia rewards our patience with well-crafted desserts (all $8) created by executive pastry chef Anthony Patafio. His signature Pinnacle of Chocolate is said to model Pinnacle Peak -- I say it looks more like a Hostess Ding Dong. Regardless, it's a delicious dark chocolate fondant (fudgey mousse), topped with a thin chocolate-wafer fan and accented by brandied cherries, almond crunch and spirals of white and dark chocolate. A special, white-chocolate passion-fruit custard, is flanlike, partnered with blackberry coulis and crisp vanilla wafer.

I find champagne soup to be a bit odd but refreshing, like thick mimosa or melted sorbet centered with a semisweet vanilla cream pillow plus raspberries and pink grapefruit slices. The soup bowl is overkill; I'd be just as satisfied with a third of the serving. Acacia's dark chocolate soufflé only takes about 10 minutes, we're told, but it tastes as if it's had greater consideration. It's very hot, quite joyously bitter, a bit heavy and unfortunately collapsed. We don't care; we scrape up every last bit, including its side of homemade vanilla ice cream and unsweetened whipped cream in a waffle cup.

Inside tip: If desserts aren't your raison d'être, Acacia's meals end with a complimentary tray of cinnamon or shortbread cookies, little chocolate candy cups, cakes and such. Quite nice.

By the way, Acacia does have an impressive wine list, with almost 200 selections from the States and Europe. When I do finally get my requested single glass (Moletto Pinot Grigio, Italy 1998, just $5), our favorite server presents the bottle for a preliminary taste. And Acacia pours an honest Absolut Citron martini, served tableside from a classy silver shaker.

I suppose I should give The Four Seasons a little more time to get its act complete. And I should be grateful for the little things: For instance, that I didn't ask for red wine (I might have been brought the Chateau Margaux 1995 Bordeaux -- for $683 a bottle). And most important, that no bunnies were harmed in the writing of this review.

Contact Carey Sweet at 602-744-6558 or online at [email protected]

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Carey Sweet
Contact: Carey Sweet