Our party of five began the meal with drinks. I had a special cocktail of the day called That Dam Summer!--a gin based cocktail with a saffron liquor that was so smooth and easy drinking. I didn't take note of all the ingredients, but if you plan to run by Fino this week, consider ordering this drink. Our group decided on a variety of dishes for sharing (and some just for ourselves). We started with the hummus with chickpeas, tahini, pimentón and house made pita--always delicious and the pita was so pillowy and fluffy. The Fried Anchovy Stuffed Olives were a revelation. I had never had them before and I really liked this crisp and savory tapas item. The Brussels Sprouts with tan-tan, labne, lemon, and marcona almonds were perfectly cooked and well seasoned. For entree my husband and I split the Duck & Chorizo Paella with tomato sofrito, sweet potato, grilled green onions, red wine, rosemary, and orange aioli. Rich, complex with multi-layers of flavor, this paella was exemplary. I have always enjoyed the use of ingredients in Fino's paellas, and this was no exception. I tried a bit of the Charred Cauliflower special of the day. The preparation provided a new take on the trendy vegetable. A friend had the Fino burger and fries with bacon jam, mahon cheese, tomato, butter lettuce, horseradish aioli, topped with a fried farm egg and I heard it was very good. For dessert we had Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with chocolate ganache, caramelized bananas and hazelnut crunch, which is every chocolate lover's dream.
The fantastic Mr. Fox came by to check on us and chat a bit. He shared his thoughts on the new restaurant (a mix of excitement and anticipation) and the closure of Fino (somewhat bittersweet; he is sorry to see it go due to its history, not to mention his time as chef of Granite Cafe which once occupied the space). There is some good news though. We were told by one staff member that Musashino will be the next restaurant to take over the space. With the end of this beloved eatery comes a new beginning with another longtime favorite. I am thrilled that a locally owned establishment will occupy the upper level corner of San Gabriel Court. And, of course, the opening of Cantine will allow us all to follow the Foxes in their new endeavor.