Bouquet’s outdoor seating area
Following the stellar cocktails my husband and I just enjoyed at the Cellar Lounge, we strolled upstairs to our 8 o’clock dinner reservation at the newly opened Bouquet Restaurant. We were led outside into the vast Courtyard where seating for the restaurant is displayed underneath a pergola which will, in the future, be covered with greenery. Every outdoor table offered beautiful views of the Courtyard, the Pond beyond, grapevines full of grapes and mountains. In place of dinner music, Bouquet diners are treated to the sounds of the nature that surrounds them, from the trickle of water coming from the nearby fountain to crickets.
Our server was Joyce, a pleasant young woman who greeted us with a smile and presented us with the wine list. There was an impressive selection of glasses and bottles of sparkling, rose, white and red wines, from local to international wineries, but I didn’t see any Ponte wines. A little confused by this, my husband and I ordered two glasses of California sparkling rose to start. When Joyce returned with our wine, we asked her about the Ponte wines. Sure enough, the entire Ponte wine list was available to order at Bouquet; they were on a separate wine menu, which I’m still not sure if we just missed or if it wasn’t brought to our table. Nevertheless, we ordered glasses of Ponte wine to be brought with our meal.
Our first courses were the Ahi Tuna Carpaccio and the Parmesan Gelato. The Carpaccio dish consisted of sliced, seared Ahi tuna surrounding a petite tower of summer vegetables like eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers. It was sweet and savory, and tasted like a ratatouille. The tuna was just barely seared on the outside while the inside was raw, delicate and tasted of the ocean. The star of our appetizer course, in my opinion, was the Parmesan Gelato. I have to admit, my eyebrow rose in wonder when I saw “Parmesan Gelato” on the menu. It sounded, honestly, odd to me, so of course I had to order it. I was expecting an actual gelato, but what came was not frozen. Perfect little scoops of “gelato” were presented on toasted multigrain bread, drizzled with sweet aged balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with crunchy hazelnuts. The “gelato” was soft and creamy, like the texture of mascarpone cheese, but it tasted like delicious, nutty Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I could have made my entire meal out of a few orders of this.
For our salads, we selected the Crab Salad and the Caprese di Burrata. The menu description of the crab salad included celery root, white balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. What I tasted was pure, sweet crab meat in big, juicy chunks. I’m sure the other ingredients were in there, but I think it is a testament to the chef that the incredible flavor of fresh crab was the highlight of this dish. The Caprese di Burrata was like a caprese salad, but the mozzarella was replaced by Burrata cheese, something I had always wanted to try but never had, until this evening. Burrata is basically a ball of fresh mozzarella cheese surrounding a rich, creamy center made of more mozzarella and cream. When you cut into a ball of Burrata, the center oozes out. It is milky, creamy and utterly delicious. The heirloom tomatoes it was served with were sweet and firm in colors of bright orange and yellow. Fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar were sprinkled over the dish. I know this: Burrata has ruined me; plain mozzarella just won’t ever be enough.
Right before our entrees were served, Joyce brought us the glasses of Ponte wine we had ordered: 2011 Vermentino to go with my Branzino and 2010 Super T for my husband’s Tagliata Steak. The branzino, imported from the Mediterranean Sea, came in two beautiful fillets, flavored with lemon, herbs and garlic, and presented with a portion of farro grains and summer vegetables. It was flaky, moist and perfectly cooked, and tasted absolutely perfect with the Ponte Vermentino. My husband’s entrée was sliced, grilled beef tenderloin, cooked rare, and topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese. It was served with a salad of peppery arugula dressed in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and herb roasted potatoes. It was some of the best steak I had had in a long time and the shavings of cheese brought the flavors to a higher level. The Super T was bold and rich and divine. Chef Roberto Carboni of Bouquet came out to greet the diners at one point, and it was nice to put a face to the wonderful dishes we were enjoying.
Joyce offered us dessert, but my husband and I decided to just finish our wine and have espresso as the finale. We chatted with her for a few minutes while we finished up before retreating back to our room for the evening.
Right now, Bouquet is only open to Inn guests and Ponte Wine Club Members. If you aren’t either of these and any of the above sounded good, I suggest you become one soon! It was a fabulous meal with incredible service. And I didn’t even mention the rest of the menu, which includes gnocchi with lamb and mushrooms, and zucchini blossom and shrimp risotto. My husband and I don’t live close to the Inn, so it will be a while before I am back to sample more of the dishes. But, by all means, if you dine at Bouquet, tell us about it!
–What is your favorite restaurant?