Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Big 3-0 Deserves a Nice Dinner

Yesterday was Brian's 30th birthday (I am imagining him wincing right now, as he is oddly bothered by talk of age). We played it pretty low key, staying home and having brie and tomato on ciabatta, and apple crisp a la mode for dessert. On Saturday, we have plans for dinner at Alinea (about which we are very excited), and then we're having dinner with Donald on Sunday.

Though the weekend is going to be quite busy (we have plans with friends on Friday, too), I was feeling a little bad for not having anything going on for the actual birthday. Our upcoming meals won't be cheap, and we don't really do presents anymore (after 12.5 years of birthdays and holidays, you kind of run out of ideas!) so I was empty-handed. As luck would have it, though, the food forum that we peruse offered up a possibility.

We found out that a restaurant downtown (Lockwood, in the historic Palmer House Hilton) was offering free dinners to a few tables on Monday and Tuesday nights. To win one, you had to email the chef and tell him why you deserved to win. I emailed (we both did, actually) him on Monday morning, and got a call a few hours later. Chef Phillip said he liked my story, and that we had won! So I made a reservation for Tuesday evening.

Dinner was quite good; the contest had said it would be a 3 course meal, but these fine dining meals always turn into longer endeavours, and it was instead a 6 course meal with pretty small portions for each course. I won't embed photos, but here is the link to the chef's blog, which has photos of some of the food (our appetizer is in the very first post right now), the menu that we had (that another guest posted), and a photo of the beautiful lobby of the hotel.

Highlights were: a really lovely cauliflower puree with pieces of lobster. Light and creamy, and the lobster was perfectly cooked; wild boar wrapped in chicken mousse and prosciutto - the first time either of us has had boar, and it was really good. Tender and flavorful (but not gamey). Out of the two desserts, the best part was a peanut butter ice cream that was delicious with some accompanying crispy bacon (yep). All in all, it was a great way to celebrate a reluctant birthday boy's last night as a 29 year old :)

So, what helped us win this indulgence? Here's what I wrote to the chef. The contest said "In as few words as possible, let us know why it is we should select you to dine with us…"

          Are there still tables available? I would be so forever in your gracious debt
          if you could award me one, as it is my husband’s birthday on Wednesday
          (the big 3-0, the first since we got married last May). We have plans for next
          weekend, but I have wracked my brain and not been able to come up with
          something for us to do during the week that he will enjoy. You see, he is a
          bit...curmudgeonly. Old beyond his years, you might say, grumpy, and
          difficult to please. One of the few things that lights up his face, though, is
           good, delicious, tasty food – and perhaps even moreso when it’s *free*. The
          food in the pictures on your website look amazing, and it would buy me a
          million (fudgy, dark, chocolatey) brownie points if I could tell him that we are
          going to Lockwood on (the day before) his birthday, for free.

          Help a new wife out?

Not my best work, but good enough, apparently :)

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