Friday, March 9, 2012

Tower Bridge Bistro

The sky rotated through shades of blue to purple, to pink, to orange, to red, as runners and road bikers scurried past during their late afternoon exercise sessions on the trail right outside the window. The view was calming despite their hurry. I kept glancing up, distracted as I was having difficulty making a choice from the Tower Bridge Bistro's extensive menu of gourmet dishes.


Discovering a Clarksburg vintage on the wine menu, it was an easy decision what to sip alongside dinner that night. Looking forward to our upcoming nuptials in Clarksburg in just shy of two weeks, we were sparing a few moments during the wedding frenzy to celebrate my birthday.

My husband loves to surprise me with new restaurants, ones I have never frequented before. I have a special affinity for French cuisine, so after researching establishments that might impress my taste buds, he stumbled across the Tower Bridge Bistro.

Nestled underneath the Embassy Suites in Sacramento, this is no average hotel restaurant. In fact, it is almost a travesty it is located there, as it is certainly bypassed by many due to its concealment right inside the hotel lobby. But, then again, it's an ideal location -- there are fewer places with such a spectacular view of the Tower Bridge. That can't be beat.

We chose a few appetizers to begin, including the divinely-rich lobster bisque. It was creamy and crowned with puff pastry.

Our beautifully plated entrees were a duck breast with grilled Bosc pears and goat-cheese calvados veloute and the lamb noisettes with sundried tomato jus and crushed garnet yams. Both dishes were perfectly cooked, medium rare. The pears accompanying the duck were slightly underripe and not too sweet, but it hardly took away from the rest of the dish.

The duck was good, but lamb has my vote as my favorite red meat so it wasn't a fair competition. It literally melted in your mouth. The mashed garnet yams were a nice place to settle in between bites and soak up all the lovely juices left behind by the lamb. I loved the medley of squash, carrots and green beans, obviously fresh.

About halfway into our meal, our chef that evening, Robert Martinez, swept up tableside to introduce himself and drop off a dish he specially prepared from fresh catch just brought over from Hawaii. (Steve had tipped off the restaurant that I was a food blogger.) He had spent his vacation exploring not just the waters and cliffs, but the culinary delights that came from them.

The Opakapaka, or Hawaiian Pink Snapper, came lightly grilled and cradled in a cup of iceberg lettuce over housemade buckwheat noodles. One bite revealed the delicious flavors of carrots, cilantro and fresh ginger. A slight kick of spice, from what I believe was Sriracha sauce, kept one's tastebuds alert and craving more.

Next, slices of pineapple for dipping alongside two tiny bowls of salt crystals. The one of a deeper brown color had the addition of volcanic ash, inducing a burnt flavor. I am still coming to appreciate the finer discrepancies between various sea salts, but it was certainly a treat to indulge in the volcanic variety.

The final tropical flair was a pound cake drizzled in macadamia honey, topped with fresh fruit and nuts. The honey, as was explained to us, was not honey infused with macadamia nuts, but rather, honey gathered from the macadamia tree's nectar. It held the faintest taste of macadamias inside. The dessert was sweetly spectacular and would go well with a pina colada.

To finish off this indulgent birthday dinner, a chocolate molten lava cake with oozing hot fudge was placed before me. I finished off a few bites before calling it a night.

Steve and I strolled along the water, meandering down a few of the docks, to walk off a bit of the fullness. We caught the waxing moon alongside Venus coming up over the Tower Bridge, scheming another reason to return soon to try other delightful dishes.

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