Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I probably had the most expensive meal of my life this weekend at Cyrus in Healdsburg. I can't recall another restaurant that I've been to where there's a truffles cart, from which you can get 2 ounce shavings of the tuber on any course for $15. I wanted to get the eight course chef's tasting menu for $130, but Rhonda wasn't interested, and they'll only serve it for the whole table. So instead I opted for five courses of my own choosing. As for wine, I picked the 2006 Gramercy Cellars 'Lagniappe' Syrah from Walla Walla. I was in the mood for a smokey, Northern Rhone style Syrah and thought this might be a good option based on a review that I had read beforehand. It wasn't what I was looking for, but the wine was excellent. Nice, pure fruit in the mouth that tasted complete without any flaws. An easy sipper, I finished the bottle without problem during our two-hour plus dinner. Here's what Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Jay Miller review) had to say about the bottle:

"The 2006 Syrah Columbia Valley is dark ruby-colored. The nose features spice notes (pepper, sage, and cinnamon), mineral, cedar, leather, plum, and blueberry. Like the Tempranillo, it appears to obtain its structure from acidity. On the palate it is slightly lean with an elegant personality (like a slender fashion model) leading to a moderately long, savory finish. It should be at its best from 2012 to 2020."

The bottle cost $60 at the restaurant, which is a really fair markup from the $38 retail price.

As for the food, my courses included a Chanterelle Consommé with Roasted Chestnuts, Celery Root and Madeira, Seared Foie Gras with Braised Duck Cannelloni and Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Truffled Red Wine Risotto with Parmesan Broth, Lamb Loin with Badda Beans and Cippolini Onion, Vin Santo Sauce, and a selection of cheeses.

The food was excellent, beautifully prepared and presented. It was also a course too much for me - I walked out of there pained from expanding my stomach too much. The restaurant itself is considered one of the best in the country, having received two Michelin stars, and it's certainly the kind of place where the staff goes overboard to impress every dinner. It's hard not to be with a 53-page wine list, the aforementioned truffles, several amuse bouche sent out by the kitchen, and the caviar and champagne cart. I also think it's the kind of place that would be enjoyable with a large party that could share bottles of wine and the chef's tasting course together. Or, if you really want to splurge, the $185 "Grand Tasting of fine and rare wines."

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