Check out RIA’s Gorgeous-as-Spring Menu With GM Brian O’Connor

Call it the director’s commentary, although we guess the GM is more like a line producer. Anyway, we have a slideshow of eight dishes from RIA’s new spring menu, which chef Danny Grant talked about yesterday in our interview, and along with them comes commentary from General Manager Brian O’Connor, expanding on Grant’s devotion to showcasing local ingredients in the most luxurious and artful manner possible. Photographer Derek Richmond’s pics gorgeously capture the remarkably polished stylishness of Grant’s food (and dessert chef Aya Fukai’s desserts, too); get ready to be hungry, and the sandwich you brought isn’t going to cut it.

The spring menu starts with a dish that evokes the fading of winter— tarragon broth “snow” coats raw, lightly seared sea bass with citrus and lemon oil, while it’s decorated with beets, in O’Connor’s words, “served raw, glazed and in an airy beet mousse – made from reduced beet juice, roasted beet juice and fresh beet juice.” Photo: Derek Richmond/Derek Richmond 2012
“Here we let spring shine by focusing on beautiful English peas and radishes, along with their shoots and sprouts,” says O’Connor. Well, that and foie gras, “passed until smooth and coated in dried orange zest.  Here it acts as seasoning or garnish to more radishes and an English pea puree.  This is an unorthodox foie dish that eats like a classic.” Photo: Derek Richmond/Derek Richmond 2012
“How can we have spring without asparagus and morels?  Here they are featured with a touch of green garlic and very fresh Maine lobster.  We receive the lobster regularly directly from Maine so they’re not sitting in tanks losing the flavor of the ocean.  The difference is remarkable.” The asparagus is cooked in a stock with the lobster, and the stock also forms the basis of the sauce, with just a touch of pastis. Photo: Derek Richmond/Derek Richmond 2012
“There is no fish quite like wild Turbot.  It is meaty and substantial yet delicate and complex at the same time, like a great French sauce,” says O’Connor. Coated in toasted bread crumbs (so the fish doesn’t have to be cooked hard enough to get the crust crunchy), it’s served with a salad of some of the first romaine lettuce of the season, and the same lettuce braised in a tarragon cream with black truffles. Photo: Derek Richmond/Derek Richmond 2012
The last savory course of the Chef’s Tasting is built on lamb saddle, aged in house to deepen the flavor. “The loin is confited in lamb fat which takes that lamb flavor even further.  We make a farce with the trimmings and other lamb offal – heart and kidneys – and roast the sausage en croute.  The pastry is crispy on the outside and soaked through with the juices on the inside.” The dishes is rounded off with fave beans and green garlic and a lamb jus. Photo: Derek Richmond/Derek Richmond 2012
The refresher between dinner and dessert has bright flavors of elderflower in the yogurt and an acidic lemon balm granite. “Pastry Chef Aya Fukai poaches local rhubarb in rose wine and finished the plate with fresh lemon balm.  It is the kind of dish that magically makes room in your stomach and wakes you up – perfect as an intermezzo,” says O’Connor. Photo: Derek Richmond/Derek Richmond 2012
“The heat this year meant we received strawberries earlier and will have them longer than most years.  Aya serves them sliced and in a jelly striped with goat’s milk.  The jelly roll is filled with crème fraiche mousse to add a touch of richness.  The plate is garnished with a goat’s milk and black pepper candy and a scoop of delicious mint ice cream.” Photo: Derek Richmond/Derek Richmond 2012
The chocolate closer puts together a complex and even daring combination of flavors, from the dark, winey richness of the chocolate to the bright acidity of kaffir lime. O’Connor says, “When we taste dishes it is often far too quickly and we only get one small bite. This is one of those dishes that doesn’t do a little bite justice— flavors announce themselves and recede, boundaries are blurred, each flavor plays off the other.” Photo: Derek Richmond/Derek Richmond 2012
Check out RIA’s Gorgeous-as-Spring Menu With GM Brian O’Connor