Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crow's Nest

Tuesday evening, Mr EA and I celebrated our 14th anniversary downtown at the Crow's Nest located on the top floor of the Hotel Captain Cook. The Crow's Nest is one of Anchorage's finer dining establishments, in a class with Simon and Seaforts, Club Paris, and a few others. We very seldom eat at such a level, but it is an occasion, so we decided to splurge.

The Hotel Captain Cook appears to be quite a nice hotel, at least as far as can be told by the public spaces. At the restaurant itself, at the top of tower 3, we were greeted by the pleasant and efficient hostess, whose name I did not catch. Like the rest of the hotel, the Crow's Nest is nicely appointed and has a luxurious atmosphere. You feel like you're in a nice place, which sometimes is half of the effect. I was a little disappointed at our table, which was overlooking the city, but was not even right next to the window. If it had been busy, I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but we were there at 6 pm, and there was a bank of empty tables right next to the windows. By the time I was discontented enough to think about asking for a different table, we had drinks and amuse bouches, and it would have felt like too much of a hassle. So I just settled for passive-aggressively calling our table "steerage" and let it drop (more or less). Also, when it got dark and the city lights came up, it was a much prettier view than it was when we got there. Now, I concede that this is a wildly trivial complaint. I also fully realize there are starving people all over the world and so forth. But still, it was kind of baffling. (Mr. EA: We were hoping for a view of the Inlet but apparently that's reserved for the bar!?!?)
Anyway. The food!
As we got settled, a waiter (Mr EA: Wayne, who did a great job) came by with little servings of roasted beets with bits of crisp bacon and creme fraiche. This was a complex, deeply flavorful appetizer that was a great little treat. Then we were each given a warm roll (choice of olive bread, Parmesan bread, or french bread), which we ate with the cute little butter balls that were already in their own little bowl on the table. The bread was good - warm, with a good crust and a great crumb. In addition to the regular menu, the restaurant was offering a tasting menu (with or without paired wines), and also a prix fixe menu with two options for each of the three courses. Mr EA and I decided to go for the prix fixe menu and try all the options between us.
Mr EA got the Thai yellow curry coconut and crab soup appetizer, Thai Curry Scallops, and creme brulee. I got the Crisp Pear and Feta Salad, the Filet Mignon and Foie Gras, and a chocolate trio dessert. Mr EA's soup was a mildly spicy, light sweet soup with plentiful crab. The richness was perfectly offset by the vegetables. His scallops were very tender with a good sear. The barley with it was deeply curry flavored and intriguing in its own right, which barley often isn't. His creme brulee was a tender, flavorful custard with a good crisp topping and some perfect berries. My salad was an interesting blend of flavors and textures. Lightly bitter spinach, sweet pear crisps, salty feta. My filet mignon was probably among the top 3 pieces of beef I have ever eaten. It was perfectly cooked with a richly beefy flavor and a meltingly tender texture. The little bit of foie gras (about the size of a walnut) was interesting to me because I have been reading about this substance for years but had never had any. It was light and tasty and unctuous. I wouldn't go out of my way to have any more, but I also wouldn't pass up any that happened to land on my plate, either. The potatoes and greens that came with it were also intriguing and delicious. My dessert was a little bit of chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce, a little bit of brownie with mango sauce, and a bit of chocolate ganache with chocolate sauce.
So overall, the Crow's Nest is a great place to go for upscale dining. It does not come cheap, but the food is incredible, the service is outstanding, and the atmosphere is wonderful as well. Just make sure you ask for a table that is not in steerage class. :)

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