Thursday, July 03, 2008

Lounge ON20, So Sparkly & Bubbly…

Last night, I met with some fellow bloggers at the new restaurant and lounge in the MAARS (Midtown Art Retail Restaurant Scene) building, Lounge ON20. (The Lounge occupies the southeast portion of the building at 20th and K, hence the name). We sampled some champagne, wine, cocktails, appetizers, and small plates that Ali Mackani (the proprietor) has to offer.

To begin our celebration at the Lounge ON20, we were poured a glass of sparkling wine! What else, since it is a champagne bar! Then we snacked on small dishes of the house olives (made in house, but of course) and the roasted & salted marcon almonds.

Then onto the cocktails: (with which I was most impressed). The drinks are so refreshing and only contain natural sugars. The first cocktail of the evening was the Bella Fragola, with strawberry, basil, gvori vodka. I can say that someone might easily have one too many of these, as the drink is sweet, but not cloying, and the taste of the vodka is almost undetectable. Perfect for summer.

The second cocktail we tried was the Feminine Mystique, composed of gvori vodka, orchard pear liqueur, st. germain elderflower liqueur, and lemon. It was a bit stronger than the previous drink, but still very smooth and reminded me of a lemon drop martini, only more complex and less sweet (that's a great thing in my book).

Feminine Mystique

The Local Strawberry Asian Pear Salad (mint, basil, organic chicories, artisan blue cheese, spiced toasted almonds spiced toasted almonds) was interesting and tasted good, but it is not something I would order again. The blue cheese overpowered the rest of the ingredients in the salad, but the flavors were still pleasant and make sense together. I am told that the "taste" size portion of this dish is two of these endive leaves.

Local Strawberry Asian Pear Salad

Up next was the Arincini “fried risotto” with white truffle oil (served with tomato conserva, basil and parmesan reggiano). Reminded me so much of a refined Tater Tot. Risotto is not my favorite thing, but deep fry it, and it definitely moves up on my list! Top it with cheese (especially parmesan reggiano), and it moves up even higher. They appear to be little meatballs in the picture, but I assure you, they are not.

Arincini “fried risotto” with white truffle oil

The wine we sampled was a glass of the 2006 DeSante Sauvignon Blanc, poured just in time to taste with the next dish; the Fennel-spiced seared ahi served with heirloom watermelon, sea salt. I really enjoyed this dish because it was so light, and the fennel did not take over the taste of the ahi, but enhanced it. The wine was a perfect match to the dish, which is served with watermelon. Yes, even the yellow fruit shown on the plate is watermelon.

Fennel-spiced seared ahi

The final dish of the evening was the Pan-roasted diver scallop with poached quail egg, parsnip puree, and crispy proscuitto. This was probably my favorite of all the goodies we tasted. Both the scallop and the egg were perfectly cooked! The proscuitto balanced nicely with the sweetness of the scallop. I was pleased to find the use of parsnip in the dish, because I love parsnips and they tend to get overlooked.

Pan-roasted diver scallop with poached quail egg, parsnip puree, and crispy proscuitto

According to the head chef David Boswell (formerly of Wine and Roses in Lodi), the menu was completely devised around the champagnes, and focuses on local ingredients and seasonal produce.

With the Lounge concept Mackani hopes to "… promote socializing over food and drink." Many people were doing just that, as a birthday party was also held at Lounge ON20 last night. I snapped a picture of the gorgeous cake.

It was decorated in fondant and the shoe on top was completely edible. It was made of fruit leather! I was told the cake came from Village Cake Shoppe in Elk Grove. I hope the party guests and guest of honor enjoyed themselves as much as we did!

Thanks Jules! :)

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