For a lot of people coming to wine country, it’s a coin flip. The French Laundry or Cyrus. Both of these restaurants represent the best that the two valleys have to offer in the way of fine dining. Thomas Keller’s French Laundry is the heavyweight champion of Napa while Chef Douglas Keane’s Cyrus in Healdsburg reigns as the premier haven for “foodies” in Sonoma. It’s probably a little tougher to get a reservation at TFL but both will set you back some serious sheckles by the time you get your final tab. I had mentioned in a review that I did on TripAdvisor. com that we chose Cyrus because the bank would only lend us enough using our homes for collateral to afford Cyrus. The question thus becomes…..it it worth it?
Cyrus is an elegant restaurant. From the moment you are seated the catering begins. There are immediate choices to be made. Do we pass on the Champagne & Caviar Cart? We do. Do we want the five or nine course Tasting Menu. We opt for the five. Would we be including the wine pairings with each course? We choose to forego this and each choose our own wines to accompany the courses. My wife and I select glasses of red and white. For the white we have the 2008 Ramey, Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay, for our red we have the 2006 Copain, Hawks Butte, Syrah, Yorkville Highlands. Both wines are excellent and we each have two glasses of both which served as the perfect amount for our food. Gerry and Joann went with a nice half-bottle of the 2006 Chateau de Beaucastle, Chateauneuf du Pape. Tough to go wrong with that one. Joe and Carol had an Italian wine, not sure of the producer but it was a Rosso di Montalcino.
It has been exactly two weeks since our dinner at Cyrus and I have given a lot of thought as to how I was going to do this review. I’ve decided the review will be from only my point of view on what I had to eat and how I felt about the entire dining experience at Cyrus. At the end I will give my reasons for this variance in style.
It should be noted that each food item presented was worthy of a matted and framed picture. The kitchen does a masterful job of plating each dish for dramatic effect.
Foie Gras Torchon with Fig and Pistachio, and Buttermilk Biscuit. Looks good, tasted better.
This is the Sugar Pie Pumpkin Soup, Chestnut Confit and Toasted Pepitas.
Medai (Japanese Butterfish) with Sweet Corn and Scallions, Lemon Verbena. This was very light and flavorful. One of my favorites.
Sweet Corn and Black Truffle Risotto. Another delicious highlight of the meal, beautifully presented.
Crispy Poussin with Potato Mousseline and Haricots Verts, Fine Herbs. Exquisitely cooked, fresh chicken.
We were sent home with a Mignardise, a nicely boxed and very tasty Brownie which got to live for three more days before I had it with a morning cup of coffee.
So there it is, dinner at Cyrus. It’s not unlike going to the theatre. You have your main server who is assisted by a never-ending parade of assistants and busboys who are constantly removing plates and silverware and replacing them with shiny new utensils. It’s apparent they have performed this routine hundreds if not thousands of times. Was it the best meal I have ever had? No, only the most expensive. That’s not a complaint. I think you are paying for a food experience. One of our group ran into Georges Perrier, Chef/Owner of Philadelphia’s legendary Le Bec Fin restaurant, the week after our return. He mentioned to the Chef that he had been to Cyrus the prior week and that he hadn’t been blown away by the food. In his inimitable French accent Georges replied “ahhhhh..you have to learn to enjoy the moment” And that is probably better than I could have put it. Cyrus is about enjoying the moment. I did. The others will have to speak for themselves….in the comment section here, if they so choose!!