Visited January 15, 2010

Cyrus Restaurant - Healdsburg, CACyrus

Healdsburg, CA - Dinner

Sonoma County's top restaurant, Cyrus holds the honors of "Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux in town", and two Michelin Stars. It is located next door to the Le Mars Hotel in Healdsburg, CA

Styled after European gastronomic destinations, courses are in flights presented simultaenously, carts are de riguer, and flourishes prevail. Evolutions since our last visit include the new bread selections and a few molecular embelishments in dishes.

What I'd love to see Cyrus do is embrace the wealth of Sonoma and Napa farms but that doesn't seem to be the path Douglas Keane wants to take. There is interest but it doesn't seem to be high on the list.

Overall the food has a sort of smoke and mirrors affect for me. Dazzling but somehow hollow. Jack does not agree, he likes the glamour and is happy to be bespelled. Cyrus does work its magic well.

Dessert was much much more focused on this visit, a lovely surprise. Unfortunately the hallowed cheese course was weaker both in description and presentation. I think that Cyrus patrons deserve a dedicated cheese person (or at least a chosen personnel who looks after the cheese cart). It was not all right with me to have the waiter stumble over names, and make errors in memory. Either label the cheeses, or have a cheese authority present them.

All that said, we enjoyed dinner. We managed to hold a conversation that wasn't constantly interrupted. The room isn't too loud, the chairs are comfortable and the decor is elegant.

What we had:

Canapes 5- Flavors:
Shitake mushroom broth with ginger
Very nice. I wouldn't eat a bowl but a tiny cup was a lovely start.
Poached cranberry with honey
Honey was obvious. Cranberry was tart and plump.
Citrus Custard Tartlette
Wonderful. I would have been happy if this was on the dessert list.
Gougeres with Gruyère
Not the pinnacle of gougeres, and a bit heavier than I like.
Pink grapefruit gelée
Very refreshing.

American Paddlefish & California Select

The caviar was very fresh, generously portioned, and on that basis I would order it again. It was nicely presented with horn and mother of pearl spoons. However, the presentation is awkward with the caviar presented as a central share plate and impossible to finish down to the last eggs without licking the plate - literally. With two people it might be workable. With a larger party it's tough. The plate itself is heavy and hard to pass.

Individually each diner was presented with a plate with: cucumber planks with nitrogen quick frozen meyer lemon pulp pieces, dehydrated creme fraiche and blinis
The meyer lemon was not frozen when it arrived at the table. The creme fraiche was a neat idea but placed on the warm blini it was impractical as it turned to thin liquid. The blini themselves were not cooked all the way through.

The accompanying champagne cart offered some nice selections including Alfred Gratien Champagne by the Glass.

Nantucket Bay Scallops with a ginger wasabi mayonnaise
Scallops were close to raw, and obviously very fresh. The sauce was really nice.  A nice amuse.

Bread Basket
Five types: epi, seeded, brioche, laminated with feta and olives and a foccacia with cheese and bacon. Not the pinnacle of bread. I appreciate the effort, but hoped for a better product. The two butters were Meyenberg Goat and Spring Hill Farms

Two salts: English (Maldon?) and Hawaiian (Alea?)

Sparkling water is VOSS and note to diners - water glasses are large so that 1 bottle is almost finished after pouring 2 glasses. You will end up going to a 2nd bottle very quickly.

Tuna, Cauliflower and Dashi Parfait with Shiso and Pickled Ramps
The BigEye Tuna had almost no flavor but was nicely cut. The custard was very nice on its own. The gelee (cauliflower? shiso? could not tell) not really adding much. Pickled ramps were thin slices mixed with the tiny caulifower florets topped with julienne of shiso. A nice contrast.

Seared Foie Gras with Asian Pear Coulis and Lentils. Vanilla Bean Gastrique

Really good. Hard to pick apart. The puy lentils were great, not overcooked and the foie had just enough crust .

Roasted Lobster with Daikon and Blood Oranges, Tamarind Ponzu

Perfectly cooked and a nice piece of tail. The tamarind sauce did not enhance the flavor in any way but it was relatively easy to avoid. We liked the daikon and oranges but they didn't really mesh with the lobster.

Chicken two Ways
with Potatoes and Swiss Chard

A Slice of breast with a nicely crisp skin and a torchon round of compressed meat. Very nice but I was extremely surprised to find out we were being served Rocky Chicken from Petaluma Poultry. This is a new dish and in the future the chicken is likely to come from Mary's Chickens. The potatoes were cylinders cored out of a potato and undercooked (so they would hold together) - a neat idea, but not that pleasant to eat. The swiss chard was nicely done.

Wagyu Strip Loin with Leeks and Japanese Squash, Oxtail-Umeshu Consomme
Type A5 from Japan (from somewhere near Kobe). Not the best we've had and not melt-in-your mouth but enjoyable. On the regular 5 course menu the Kobe costs $15 supplement and I would hope you would get a little more. Really liked the Squash.

Artisanal and Farmhouse cheeses presented tableside
Cyrus has been famous for its great cheese course. While the selections included both domestic, French and Spanish choices, tonight we were disappointed in its presentation. Our server presented the cart and stumbled over names and identification.

The cheese for five was plated on one large share plate, and while it was enough cheese it wasn't pleasant or easy to cut from the center plate or negotiate the cheese on the home plate. Especially because the plate in front of you had bread placed on it in a big pile (with no finesse or aplomb) . We had to ask for a spoon to divide up the running Époisses.

Three kinds of bread: flatbread cracker, walnut and baguette. Paneforte, candied nuts and fresh barhi dates on the cheese plate. We chose, Epoisses, Montenegro, Sally Jackson Chestnut Leaf wrapped Sheeps Milk, Bayley Hazen Blue, (and a sheep's milk mountain cheese which was one of the "unknown" cheeses).

Palette Cleanser
Lime Sorbet with (something I don't recall) a thimble size on a small stick. One bite.

Meyer Lemon Bar and 'Cappuccino'
The Cappuccino had a warm gin foam which was applied tableside with a siphon dispenser. The bottom layer was a sorbet, on top was a creamy layer and then the foam. The creamy layer had a distinctive (and unpleasant bitterness) which was balanced out if you stirred it bottom to top. Fortunately we figured that out. The meyer lemon "bar" was three dots of lemon with a tiny crust round on top of each one. Tasty.

Apple Crisp, Mulled Cider and Creme Fraiche Gelato
The Apple crisp was served in a small square dish, there was a small cup of mulled cider and a quenelle of creme fraiche gelato on some crumble crumbs.

The problem lay in too much sugar. The apple sense was completely obliterated by sweetness. Even the mulled cider suffered. I have no idea why creme fraiche gelato was a pairing with the dish, it was tasteless and added nothing to a bite of too-sweet apple.

Warm Gianduja Doughnuts with Caramelized Banana and Avocado
The donut was good. On it's own with some jam or cream it would have been fantastic - instead it had the chocolate/hazelnut stuff in the center. We ate around it. If you were a crazy Nutella fan, this might have worked for you. I was incredibly suspicious that avocado and caramelized banana would be a disaster. Surprise! It was actually quite good, albeit it didn't go with the rest of the elements at all.

Bergamot Lavender Lollipop, Blood Orange Custard, Bailey's Irish Cream Liqueur Chocolate, Fleur de Sel Caramel, Sable Shortbread with Fleur de Sel, Peanut Butter Sandwich cookie with milk chocolate creme, and a choice of pate de fruits: lychee or raspberry. The shortbread was wonderful.

At the end of the meal guests are presented with a small take-home treat in a signature box. Inside was a chocolate brownie. It was delicious.

A Link to our older review of Cyrus:
Cyrus 2008

   Bookmark and Share