An important difference in being a volunteer board member server at South Shore Arts annual auction item mystery dinner, as opposed to being a server at anything else, is that Chefs Gary (Bartlett's) and Nicole (Bistro 157) take care that the support staff is well fed.
This year, the help consisted of me, SSA Exec Director John Cain and a dedicated SSA supporter who prefers to remain anonymous who lives at an undisclosed but beautiful location in the Dunes, a short walk from the beach. Nicole designed a signature drink for the dinner as usual, but since it was April instead of October, it was a renewal-themed grapefruit martini made with juice, gin and St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. “In the beautiful bottle,” as Nicole says. The three kinds of appetizers were delicious, but the first to be completely scarfed up was the Parmesan Short Bread topped with Olive Tapendade and Beef with Fresh Basil. The competitors in this category---Raisin Pecan Crostini with Whipped Goat Cheese and Proscuitto Candied Walnuts and Asian Ahi Tuna Tartare Spoon with Crispy Wonton---were ultimately finished off as well, it just took a bit longer.
Since any gossip I might have picked up at the dinner with a lot of McShane's in attendance is offr-limits for now. You will have to be content with a rundown on the rest of the meal with commentary: Truffled Sweet Pea Goat Cheese Ravioli in Light Parmesan Citrus Broth; Celery Root Porcini Bisque finished with Sherry; Whimsical Asian Duck Confit Salad---the whimsical part was the duck meat came in a minature taco shell, very cute---Scallop Chowder---semi-deconstructed with seared diver scallop atop a crispy polenta cake, sweet corn surrounded by little, flavorful manila clams. The entree consisted of generous portions of Smoked Beef Tenderloin with Lobster Leek Mashed Potatoes, in Truffle Wine Demi-Glace and Asparagus, dressed with olive oil. Even a helper's apetitie cannot withstand this onslaught and the servers were finally giving out under the assault. (The Chefs being Chefs long ago learned not to eat during the process and pretty much stuck to red wine and grapefruit martinis.) By the time we got to dessert of Warm Guiness Chocolate Brownie---which Gary Sanders makes exclusively at Bartlett's---the wait staff could not partake. Even though, the gigantic brownies had Michigan sun-dried cherries and white chocolate with Valpo Velvet Black Walnut Ice Cream on the side, looked so good.
We will have complete photos and story on this fabulous dinner---parts available at both Chef's restaurants---in an issue of Shore coming up soon.