Why? Candlelit Dinner!

I don’t generally do posts just about food.  While I love to talk about the restaurants around CLE, I try to leave the straight-up restaurant reviews to some of my fellow CLEbloggers, like Hungry in Cleveland, Cleveland Food and Brews, and Bite Buff.  However, after doing a guest post for Cleveland Food and Brews, I got bit by the restaurant review bug.  So, without further adieu, here’s the scoop on my amazing Valentine’s Day dinner.

CLEguy took me to Molinari’s, which had a special five-course, candlelit Valentine’s dinner.  The atmosphere in the restaurant was perfect for romance – softly lit with taper candles, with the wait staff outfitted in black, white, and red.

Our first course was an amuse bouche of tuna crostini with tapenade, paired with a Naveran Brut Vintage Cava.  The champagne-style wine was light, refreshing, and not too sweet.  The tuna crostini was delicious – I almost wished for more than just a bite, although there was plenty of food to come.

Our second course was a seared sea scallop on top of a leek risotto cake with a caper buerre blanc.  The scallop was perfectly cooked and the leek risotto cake had a wonderful, fresh taste.  While the caper buerre blanc was a bit salty, the wine pairing for this course (a Zenato Pinot Grigio) helped to cut the saltiness.

 Our third course was a duck ragout with roasted grape tomatoes served over polenta cake.  This was by far my favorite course.  As you can see, the portion of duck was generous.  The ragout had a delicious, peppery bite that complimented the smoky, gamey taste of the duck.  The polenta cake was firm enough to stand up to the duck, yet not chewy or overdone.  The perfect bite for me included polenta, a roasted tomato, and duck!  This course was paired with a Marchesi Di Barolo Barbera Monferrato, a smooth red wine with a lot of berry notes.

Our fourth course was veal braised in red wine, with carmelized fennel and portobello mushrooms.  The veal was fall-apart tender and the red wine sauce perfectly matched both the veal and the mushrooms.  While CLEguy and I both tried the carmelized fennel, neither of us were huge fans.  Perhaps if it had been incorporated into the dish, rather than simply served on the side, we would have felt differently.  This course was paired with our favorite wine of the night, a Cal Blanca Red Toro.  This wine reminded me of Zinfandel, which is one of my favorite red varietals. 

Our dessert was a roasted pear panna cotta with hazelnut creme anglaise.  I love chocolate, but it was refreshing (to my palate and my expectations) to see a Valentine’s dessert not involving chocolate.  The panna cotta was the perfect texture and consistency…firm enough to hold together, but still smooth and creamy.  The pears were roasted with a slight hint of cinnamon and both incorporated into the panna cotta, as well as being served on top.  Also, I would eat the hazelnut creme anglaise on just about anything, it was that good.  This course was paired with a Marchesi Di Barolo Moscato D’Asti.  While I’m not a fan of sweet white wines, this was the perfect compliment to the dessert.

Overall, the ambiance, the service and attention to detail, the amazing food, and of course the company, made this a perfect Valentine’s dinner.  I highly recommend putting Molinari’s on your must-try restaurant list!

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