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The Kitchen Window
The Dime
For the Christmas last year, I gave Andy a Kitchen Window gift card. We finally got around to using it this past Monday night for the "Meet the Neighbors" restaurant crawl, and it was a phenomenal experience.

First, we all started at the Kitchen Window itself in Calhoun Square. It was a fairly mixed crowd in terms of age - I keep wanting to think Andy and I were among the youngest, but I have to remind myself that we're really not that young any more. Lots more ladies than gentlemen. I was very timid at first, being around so many strangers, but as the evening went on, we all loosened up quite a bit.

The meal at the Kitchen Window started with a glass of champagne as the chef prepared a Lemon and Herb marinaded Strip Loin, with Cauliflower Horseradish puree and cooked Brussel Sprouts. This was served with a Pinot Noir, I think. I will edit once I confirm with the menu I have at home (confirmed, I was right!) - included with the menu were some recipes for either the meal we were going to try, or a similar meal provided by Kitchen Window. Apparently a few restaurants aren't so keen on giving out their secrets. The Strip Loin was amazing, and even though it was pretty rare, Andy still loved it too. I tried the puree and the brussel sprouts, which was a huge deal for me. Wasn't blown away, but did eat more than a taste. Andy finished mine with gusto. The chef expressed his delight in getting to make a meal like this, since most of the time he is teaching classes for home cooking, and most people don't cook like that at home.

Next was Chiang Mai Thai. We had been to several of the restaurants on the tour before, so I was worried we weren't going to get a fresh new experience. We were served the chicken satay with the peanut curry sauce that everyone at the table wanted to eat with a spoon. It was paired with an amazing Sauvignon Blanc. Normally I'm not about the Blanc, but this was either an exceptional bottle or paired perfectly with the peanut sauce. Guests started mingling more, sharing favorite restaurants and experiences. The head chef came out briefly and gave us a run down on a few of the ingredients and preparations of the food.

We then walked to Chino Latino. Unfortunately, we were seated in the top section, which meant no escape from the terrible acoustics which are pretty much the hugest draw back to the place - it's why we stopped going so much. Yes, we are old. Everyone was served Salt and Pepper Shrimp with a Plum Sauce. I had voiced my Deadly Allergy previously, and was allowed to pick something else off the menu. After much embarrassment over the special treatment, the waitress talked me into the Kobe Beef Skewers with a rockin' soy mustard sauce. Amazing. The wine was Kung-fu Girl Riesling. It was good, though not the best Riesling I had ever had. We got a brief run down on Chino and the food from the general manager as the chef had 'gone home sick' (which we were told was code for him leaving early to play video games.)

Keep in mind now that I have had four glasses of wine. And we're not talking samples here, we're talking full service glasses.

Next was Indio, the restaurant on the list that we had never even heard of, let alone tried. I was very excited about the carne asada we were promised. There was some trepidation, as a few of our new friends had been there once and not enjoyed the service at all. However, the atmosphere was awesome (loved the background music) and the head chef/co-owner was a great guy. He gave a really fascinating talk before the meal was serve. The carne asada was delicious, but I was surprised that the two sides were equally as amazing. It was just parsley rice and drunken beans, but they were truly a treat. The wine was a Tempranillo, a red I had never heard of before. It was very good as well, very full-bodied without being too heavy. I was poured a second glass of this. The head chef came to our table during the meal and shared stories of his experiences training in France and all the restaurants he worked at in the Twin Cities. I was really impressed by his willingness to interact with us. High marks.

Finally, Zeno. They had done a lot of rearranging of their menu, so Andy and I had been a little put off and not been back in a while. If I thought Indio gave our group star treatment, Zeno put it to shame. Our tables were decorated tastefully for the fall, we all had blurbs about the wines we were tasting cut out and under our wine glasses, one of the head chefs was serving us personally, and the desserts! First was a mini carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting, paired with an Albarino. Second, a mini chocolate lava cake with more Tempranillo. Delicious. And then the end of the evening. Ok, totally switching paragraphs here, because it was so good.

It was an original creation by the chef that was serving us - something that was not on the menu. A small maple creme brulee with pomegranate whipped cream, an orange zest soaked in Gran Marnier and Cava, a sparkling wine. Creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts, and the maple was hinted in the dessert, but not overpowering. The orange zest was a nice treat. The whipped cream - dear gods and goddesses! It was made with about a shot of Pama liquor in each serving. It was the perfect amount of tart. It sent me to the moon. The chef later came out with the bottle. Since there was some left, and it wasn't a menu item, he doled it out to us, and it was all I could do to keep from kissing him. (He was hella hot too, just to put it in perspective) There was more sparkling wine, so another glass was poured for me. Higher marks.

So in the end, I had really amazing food, a truly star experience, ten glasses of wine, glowing recommendations for future restaurant crawls, and one mother of a hangover the next day.
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That sounds amazing. I am thoroughly jealous.

You should definitely check out what Kitchen Window has to offer. I know I sound like I'm getting paid to endorse them, but this truly was an amazing experience.

This sort of thing is totally my bag. Sounds wonderful.

It was a little pricey, and of course Andy spent months trying to narrow down the many great sounding options, but in the end, it far exceeded our expectations. Because of that, I feel that everyone should try it at least once.

Wow. I would need to train for an outing like that. Sounds awesome.

For the food or the wine? It was a harsh evening, alcohol-wise, because we were mixing reds and whites all night long, and I'm a lightweight to begin with. The food portions, though, were all spaced nicely and well-planned in size.

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