So this week’s post is a bit different. I haven’t been cooking much lately (gasp!). Busy busy busy with teaching and lab work and jiu jitsu and, very occasionally, life.
Not to mention that my Valentine’s dinner at The Hobbit with my man kept me full for nearly two full days after the fact.
And that dinner is what I want to share with you today. Because it was, quite possibly, the most incredible dining experience I have ever had.
I came across The Hobbit in Orange County while researching unique places to eat in Los Angeles. Of course the name tantalized me. A Lord of the Rings themed restaurant? I must investigate. Not to mention, my man is an absolute LOTR fanatic. I believe he has read every book ever written by Tolkien and knows the entire Middle Earth backstory including the more obscure Valar and Ainur history. It’s craziness…
Anyway, so okay so The Hobbit not exactly hobbit-themed, but is so-named after the hobbits’ propensity toward eating and long, pleasurable multi-course meals. And, let me tell you, The Hobbit would make any self-respecting hobbit very, very happy.
The whole night should be thought of as an event, an experience, rather than just a simple meal. There is only one seating per night and the menu is a set seven-course meal.
The restaurant didn’t look like much from the outside; it was a two-story home that had been converted in to a restaurant. It sat off of a large city street next to a bridal shop and a crappy-looking BBQ place. We were slightly skeptical.
But the moment we stepped in side, the noise of the traffic died down to nothing and we were transported to wondrous new world. We arrived early and the hostess/bartender led us upstairs where we shared a glass of 12-year old scotch and explored the beautiful house.
At precisely 7pm, the hostess led us downstairs choose a bottle of wine from the underground wine cellar that boasted over 1000 bottles of wine to choose from. Now we had brought our own bottle from our favorite winery, MJA, in Santa Cruz, but we could not resist purchasing a few glasses of port to go along with dessert. We were also treated to unlimited house champagne and appetizers. I tried caviar for the first time!
At 7:30, we were led to the main dining room were we were greeted with a beautiful private table with the wine we brought along.
They brought out these delicious, fluffy bread rolls with a pretty little butter rose accompaniment.
We were given some time to settle in to our seats before the first course came out: Piquillo Pepper Bisque with Wild Gulf Prawns. Perfectly cooked, sweet and succulent prawns with just a few spoonfuls of savory “bisque”. It was more of a sauce to allow the prawns to be the star of the dish.
Next up was Medallion of Veal, Slow Roasted Beach Mushroom Risotto and Port Wine Cherry Reduction. This picture, unfortunately, does not do this dish justice. The veal was absolutely divine.
The third dish of the night was a fresh and light Lolla Rossa Salad with Fresh Herb Dressing, Baby Beets, and Manchego Cheese. The delicately dressed farm-fresh greens and sweet beets were a nice interlude between the heavier dishes of the night.
After this course came a short “intermission” in which we were invited to wander in to the gardens or the kitchen. Though I felt somewhat awkward walking in to some one’s working space, I was curious to see the kitchen. It was tiny for a restaurant kitchen! It truly was a home kitchen that had been revamped for large-format cooking. I was thoroughly impressed at the quantity (and quality) of food that was coming out of that thoroughly modest area.
When we were led back to our seats, we were greeted with a dainty, and quite adorable, palate cleanser. It was a simple Grapefruit and Berry Sorbet adorned with cute colored glass candy.
By now it was about 9:30 and we were already quite satiated. And yet, it was time for the main event of the night: Beef Wellington. I know what you are thinking. Beef Wellington? That old, washed-up recipe from the 50’s? That hunk of meat wrapped in store-bought puff-pastry and inevitably overcooked? Well, you would be wrong, because this beef dish was utterly divine. The puff-pastry was light, buttery and flakey and the pate stuffing was silky and savory. And the beef? Oh the beef was delicious. It was superbly cooked to a perfect medium-rare and simply melted in your mouth. It has forever changed my mind as to the potential of beef Wellington.
Well by this point, my man and I were quite stuffed. But that didn’t stop us from finishing off our desserts and the not-too-sweet Port that accompanied it (the Port was definitely a good idea). The dessert, like everything else, was delicious and absolutely gorgeous: Chocolate Lava Cake Diablo with Grand Marnier Mascarpone Mousse and Candied Apricot Bits.
Notice the alcohol? It was a “Lush”ious night indeed. Needless to say, my man and I left very, very happy (and not a little tipsy).
The Hobbit is certainly not a place for a weekly, or even a monthly meal, but it was the most wonderful dining experience I have ever had and I will most certainly, positively, be back.