It’s officially fall, and you can feel it in the early morning and once the sun starts going down. The air is crisper, cooler, and the leaves are loosing their vibrancy. But I’ve been a little stubborn about turning to those quintessential fall flavors, as I try to savor the last stretch of summer. While many restaurants have moved on to pumpkin ravioli and stuffed acorn squash, a few are still showcasing the best in late seasonal ingredients.
Deuxave, one of Executive Chef Christopher Coombs’s restaurants [a competitor on the Food Network’s Chopped] is one of those places – and the refined French cuisine does nothing short of highlighting the very flavors that have come to define the summer season.
This weekend, I finally got around to making a reservation at Deuxave – and I was glad to catch their menu while they were still featuring the vegetables and fresh flavors of the summer. My parents were in town for the day, and I was glad for the extra mouths to help me sample the menu – which had a few natively vegetarian options I was dying to try.
While I always appreciate a restaurant’s last-minute flexibility and creativity in designing vegetarian or vegan dishes upon request, it’s always refreshing to have options available from the get-go.
Recommended Dishes: Without a doubt, the Celebration of Late Summer – the vegetarian entree – was the best plate I had at Deuxave. What’s more, it was one of the more creative vegetable dishes I’ve had in a long time. Here, Coombs transforms roasted corn into a sweet, polenta-style custard, with local tomatoes, snap peas, and marinated cheese curds. A kalamata olive vinaigrette is drizzled around the elegant plate, pictured aboe. My favorite appetizer was the melange of heriloom beets, with walnuts, pears, and chevre.
The Not-So-Good Bite: While the menu boasts a purposeful continuity, a lot of the flavors and ingredients were repeated throughout the dishes. The abundance of corn was perhaps the most notable. In addition to the Late Summer entree, the scallops are paired with a sweet corn ravioli, and duck confit is paired with a sweet corn soup as a special appetizer. The crispy mushrooms show up in a number of dishes, and pancetta is used frequently. While this shows a clear, methodical approach to highlighting certain flavors and using each ingredient in its entirety, I also craved more variety to choose from.
The Good Bite: At Deuxave, the bread service is an indication of the general attitude toward food. A single warm roll is presented to each individual diner. As I discussed with my experience at Trade, I appreciated the attentinon Deuxave demonstrates to portion size, and the efforts at preventing food waste. As always, mindful eating makes for a more satisfying, healthy meal. There’s no reason to over indulge in high-carb, high-calorie bread with the series of healthy, proportionate starters and mains available.
The Best Bite: There’s no argument that the menu presents a story of the season. The careful selection of ingredients that articulate a particular time of year and harvest makes for a bright, colorful meal. You can feel good about the dishes you order because the items in each dish are fresh and local. The Summer Vegetable Salad, for example, was my mother’s appetizer – and was an elegant tower of local tomatoes, farm fresh baby greens from Sheffield, and other carefully selected vegetables. Eating out of and around the crispy “basket” made from potato would make this a lighter dish, but either way, it is a refreshing start to a delicious meal that truly encapsulates the bold flavors piquancy of the late summer season.
After dining at Deuxave, it’s evident that Coombs’s self-described “obsessive-compulsive” desire for perfection and respect for food is the fundamental backbone of the elegant restaurant. I would gladly return next season to see the way the menu is influenced and altered to reflect autumnal flavors and ingredients.
Until then, I’m off to find another seasonal bite.