March 8, 2012
What happened to the best dish of the year?

charcuterie Lounge.JPG

When I reviewed Lounge ON20 several months ago, I named its charcuterie plate as the best dish I had encountered in the past year. So, what happened since then? I stopped in at Lounge ON20 recently with that question in mind, wondering what the kitchen was doing with its already stellar charcuterie plate. The answer: to remain the best, you have to keep pushing forward.

That's what chef de cuisine Mike Ward is doing. We were already elated by his earlier charcuterie offerings, and this new one is superb, too. Take a look at the artistry and execution. As for flavors, there was so much going on here, such a lively and dynamic offering of tastes, colors, textures, surprises.

See if you can identify some of the following on the plate (click on the photo to make it larger):

  • Duck prosciutto sprinkled with Jurassic salt
  • Fermented black garlic puree
  • Pickled red beet puree
  • Pickled quail eggs
  • Yellow romesco puree
  • Cornichons
  • Pickled ground cherries
  • Virginia ham jowls
  • Two kinds of mustard: minced chile mustard and traditional whole grain mustard
  • Pickled shimeji mushrooms
  • Burnt caramel gastrique
  • Corned beef tongue with , next to dots of burnt eggplant (really sweet and caramel)
  • Chorizo pate with Fresno chile gel
  • Pickled cherries

Congratulations to Ward, executive chef Pajo Bruich and the rest of the hard-working crew at Lounge ON20. This kind of attitude is what helps inspire and challenge other chefs, resulting in more enterprising work and elevating our overall dining scene in the Sacramento region.

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.

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