Let’s be honest here. One of the best things about family or friends in town is the excuse to go out and eat.
And when your 91 year old mother-in-law wants to take you out for an early birthday dinner at a place of your choosing, it’s downright spectacular. Especially if you pick the right place. Might I suggest here?
You know a restaurant has it down when it can completely fill up with no reservations and a hefty overflow at 5:30 sharp when it opens. Luckily we knew the score and got there before it opened up in order to wait in line, enabling us score one of the few tables large enough for our party (and having a near centenarian in our midst didn’t hurt, either).
Where to begin? How about here?
Tasty n Alder serves a radicchio salad that is as good as Nostrana’s and a few of us thought that it even surpassed that one. I couldn’t get a picture fast enough of the whole salad (my table pounced on it before I even knew what was happening) but I did have the requisite self-control to grab an image before I inhaled my own portion.
Look for it in the smaller section of the menu, and it is described as such: “Radicchio, bacon lardons, manchego, chopped six minute egg”. Why not simplify and just call it “Manna” or “Best Salad You’re Likely to Eat” or “Don’t ask — Just Order”?
Good gravy it was fabulous. There were sizable chunks of soft-poached egg throughout, the largest nubbins of bacon you’ve probably ever had the pleasure of eating and a shower of finely grated Manchego throughout, all bound together with a creamy, eggy dressing. If you go, this is an absolute must-do.
Here’s another dish, shockingly good.
Grilled Spanish style Octopus. Doesn’t it look like something out of a Cousteau movie?
At $17 it was spendy, but it was otherworldly how tender it was when cut into bite-sized chunks, and the char of the grill played off beautifully against the lemon-caper-olive garnish. Had they given me the opportunity, I would have probably left the creature minus several of its arms.
As alluring as so many of the smaller sides are, be sure to save room for the main attractions. Their meat selection is expansive, and the Flat Iron steak we shared (everything comes out family-style) was one of the top ten steaks I remember eating. It had just the tiniest bit of a sherry glaze on it but what made it so note-worthy was that it was a magnificent piece of beef (menu says “Washimi Wagyu”) that was was cooked impeccably to a medium and then left primarily alone.
I suspect that when you start with such an exceptional product, the less you fuss with it the better.
I can’t wait to try some of the other cuts next time, like the Ribeye and Delmonico perhaps alongside the Sauteed Spinach with prunes, shallots and almonds. Or maybe the Seared Scallops with Mint Pesto and the Creamed Nettles from the outstanding Sides section.
But for our dinner this time, it was mostly a big round of the Alder Burgers.
Intrigued? You should be. Cascade natural beef, chubut cheese, house bacon and hazelnut romesco; this pic depicts my son’s burger with sauce on the side, which I greedily added to that already on my own burger (waste not, want not).
Every single element of this burger has obviously been considered at length and the end result is nothing short of stunning. A hefty yet airy bun holds a scandalously juicy burger, oozy cheese, hefty, meaty planks of bacon, homemade pickles and that spectacular romesco sauce. A stainless steel cup with hot crispy fries is served alongside.
I will leave that to you. If somehow you can’t finish off every last bite, let me know and I will take it off your hands (I can grab my car keys and get to you while the patty is still warm).
Were we done? Most normal people would have shown restraint at this point but we didn’t stop there. We Klines are restaurant marathoners, always in for the long haul.
We got chocolate donuts cooked to order (atop creme anglais because a doughnut isn’t rich enough), butterscotch lava cake, and a brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream and goat cheese caramel. I was in such sugar and carbo shock I didn’t have sufficient wits about me to snap a pic, but take it from me, they were all formidable.
A weekend of celebration. Inventive salads, powerhouse steaks, dreamy burgers, cooked to order desserts.
And because it’s my birthday coming up, I am making a wish for all of you: