We started with a bottle of 2011 Siduri Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley which was light, smooth and easy- drinking. With that we tried a collection of items from the bar menu to take advantage of the happy hour offer. The house cured salmon was served with creme fraiche, capers, pickled red onions cornichons and cocktail bread. Very clean and fresh. We also tried the Wink burgers, three beef sliders with a choice of melted brie oozing over the sides, or with foie gras in place of the cheese. Both ways were delicious and satisfying. The star of the night had to be the mac n' cheese with black truffles, aka, crack and cheese. A medium sized ramekin overflowing with spiral pasta coated in cheese and sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs that was creamy, rich and highly addictive. We seriously flirted with the idea of placing another order but resisted. An order of edamame was added to include a little bit of green to our appetizers. Perfectly cooked and seasoned.
With the happy hour portion of the evening concluding, we turned to the restaurant menu (this is the same menu offered at the restaurant Wink). We could have easily split entrees and been more than reasonably filled, but everyone had their own ideas about what to select, so we each tried our own thing. I had the PEI Mussels in lemongrass broth with jalapeño and cilantro. Wink is known for its small plates which enables you to try a variety of different items from the menu. Knowing this, I was surprised by the generous quantity of mussels, which were steamed to just the right point and wonderfully flavored by the lemongrass broth. The fresh bread that accompanied the dish was essential to dunk and soak up the remnants of this light and delicate broth (there was only a hint of jalapeño and cilantro, nothing overpowering). My husband had the Beef Tartare with shoestring potatoes, grilled romaine, capers and honey mustard aioli. He enjoyed the variety of accoutrements that came with the tartare and loved the seasoning, placing it neck and neck with the tartare from Fabi and Rosi. Our friends had the Succulent Spinach Salad with bacon, foume d'ambert, almonds and sherry dressing--a nice bridge between courses. They also tried the Foie Gras served on pain perdu with fried quail egg, frisee, creme fraiche and strawberry-balsamic coulis. Rich and exotic. We washed it all down with a 2010 Seven Sinners "The Ransom" Petite Sirah from Lodi, CA, described as "ripe and ready", and it was just that. You would think that after this gastronomic marathon we would be finished, but we couldn't resist the dessert menu and split a cheese plate that contained a selection of four cheeses, including a local Dos Lunas cheese that was my favorite. I also took a bite of the creme brulee; so creamy with a touch of vanilla. A nice cap to the meal at this welcoming bar where it is easy to linger. (Cathy)