|A meal that just does not live up to expectations|
Guardian Lifestyles Editor
Published: Apr 28, 2012
This is the situation that I walked into at the Balmoral Club recently – people were still raving about the Burns House wine dinner at the Old Fort Bay Club – which I’d missed. Words they were using to describe the food included fabulous and delicious. It seemed as if they were still having orgasmic fantasies.
After missing Old Fort Bay, I certainly wasn’t going to miss the Balmoral Club dinner. Having never been to Balmoral I really wanted to see what their kitchen was producing.
With advance knowledge of the menu, I was excited – tuna sashimi with wasabi soy sauce and sesame seaweed paired with a Louis Jadot Chardonnay; mesclun salad with toasted pecans, dried cranberries, Bermuda onions, grape tomatoes with a mango vinaigrette paired with Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse; blueberry breast of roasted duck or a grouper bon fem with creamy corn and pancetta polenta, stir fried bok choy and pickled carrot paired with Louis Jadot Pinot Noir and flambéed guava crepe paired with Taylor Tawny Port.
For most people at these dinners, it’s the wine that takes center stage. For me, it’s all about the food. And I was excited about the menu, it sounded – heavenly. After the last plate, was served as I reflected on the meal, I concluded, actually as each course was set before me, I knew that the wine had stolen the show. The majority of the meal was a complete let down.
Actually, Balmoral Club started off really well, with a deconstructed tuna sashimi appetizer. It was really fresh and delicious, so much so that I gave my neighbor thumbs up, signaling that the meal was off to a great start. (He was one of those people that had dined at Old Fort Bay Club and was still raving about the food). I was eager for the remainder of the courses.
Up next, was the salad, but that proved to be disappointing. The brightness that I expect to get from the mango vinaigrette just wasn’t there. It tasted really bland. And I searched and searched for at least one pecan and the miniscule piece I found I actually had to put on my spectacles to find. (Actually I only need my glasses to see distance, so that’s really saying something).
I selected the blueberry breast of roasted duck with creamy corn polenta, stir-fried bok choy and pickled carrot for my entrée. My bone of contention with this dish was that the duck skin was not crisped at all and my meal was cold. To make matters worse, two of the people at my table did not like the grouper bon fem (they felt the fish was dry and overcooked) and sent them back to the kitchen for the duck. All-in-all, the meal was edible, even though I saw quite a few entrée plates being taken away by the wait staff with food barely touched.
One of the main draws to this dinner for me was the thought of flambéed guava crepes — crepes stuffed with guava, you really can’t mess that up. But of course, the plate set before me had whipped cream slathered all over the side when it should not have been. (I actually had to wipe the plate, so I wouldn’t get the cream all over me). Despite, the appearance of the plate, the dessert turned out to be delicious, and I dare say, next to the tuna sashimi course was the best thing on the menu, next to the wines of course.
While that was my first experience dining at Balmoral, I’ve spoken to quite a few people who have told me of wonderful dining experiences that they’ve had there, so for now I won’t be ruling them out, because people can always have off days, so you should not either. Always give people a second chance. But, when they get that second chance, they’ve got to get it right.