Healdsburg, California

January 2008

It was our third visit to Cyrus and by this time our trips to Healdsburg had been frequent enough that we felt like we had come “home.”  Unfortunately, unless you’re extremely well off, Cyrus falls in the category of “special occasion” restaurant.  Yes, the prices are that high.

Lots of restaurants have hopped on the caviar bandwagon.  Only at Cyrus do we indulge in the “caviar” tasting.  Maybe it’s the way they wheel the cart right up to you at the start of the meal, maybe it’s the sexiness of the dark red scale, perhaps it’s the accompaniments you know you’re going to get with the caviar – the chopped egg, the tiny chives, the wonderful pop-in-your mouth squares of potato hash browns plus the option of an icy cold vodka chaser or a glass of champagne.  How can you not order the caviar?  (And yes, you can opt for the less expensive American paddlefish and not be looked down upon.)

After the caviar, Lynn and I both had the seared foie gras.  It was perfectly grilled, warm and oozing flavor with a ginger carrot “pain perdu.”  He moved on to homemade pappardelle with rabbit, red cabbage and mustard “froth.” I had the pumpkin tagliarini with a poached egg that was sublime, rich and creamy.  I wanted more but my hips didn’t.  I toyed with having the lobster again since I’ve had it on two other occasions and the “wow” factor is definitely there, but I wanted something new.  The veal loin with rösti potatoes and sweetbreads didn’t disappoint.   Lynn went with the roulade of lamb with farro and rapini in a blood orange sauce.  That night we had the cheese plate for dessert but they still insisted on bringing us out a plate of homemade chocolates and other sweets.   I love this restaurant!

Past visits to Cyrus went like this:

August 2007

Did we miss the e-mail that said they’ve relaxed the dress code?  We wondered since the website makes a point of emphasizing “no shorts or sleeveless t-shirts” followed by “our servers wear suits and ties.”  Sitting next to us, however, was a young couple – he in ripped jeans and a t-shirt (with sleeves), she similarly attired.  We had dressed for the occasion, so felt somewhat put out by their casualness.  But we weren’t there to be critical of their fashion faux pas but to eat!

And eat we did starting with the American paddlefish caviar and all its accompaniments.  Next up: Thai marinated lobster with avocado, melon and hearts of palm; seared hamachi with spinach with a light consommé; tagliarini with mozzarella and olives; seared foie gras with a lentil ragout and Asian pears; bacon wrapped pork loin with mashed potatoes and chard; lamb with spicy eggplant and tomatoes followed by an awesome selection of farmhouse cheeses with bread and fruit accompaniments.

And again,

October 2006

It was a Saturday night.  It was early fall.  It was already late by the time we drove into Healdsburg (7 p.m.) and our dinner reservation (9 p.m.) was even later.  That night we were seated next to a party of eight who had obviously spent most of the evening drinking rather than eating since at one point they were so rowdy that Chef Keane came out of the kitchen to see what was going on.  Luckily, the party left within a half hour of our arrival so things got a lot quieter and we were able to experience Chef Keane’s magic.

They wheeled out the caviar bar and we obliged with a sampling of American sturgeon with all the appropriate accompaniments – little potato cakes, chives, onions, egg, and crème frâiche lapping it up with mother of pearl spoons. Then came amuse bouche #1, a silky tomato concoction (think cream of tomato soup extraordinaire) with a cheese twist. Then we moved on to the first course, a trio of foie gras — two of them were terrines, one with pistachios, the other with a faint creamy peanut taste while center stage was a wonderfully grilled lobe.

Amuse bouche #2  was a tasting of house smoked salmon with a smidgen of wasabi served on a ceramic “old school” Chinese soup spoon.  I ordered Chef Keane’s signature dish of lobster and avocado; Lynn had the tuna hamachi with a soy broth.  The lobster was wonderful but alas, somewhat too chilly for my taste.  Our third course: Lynn had a pork loin rolled in bacon; I had the lamb chops with an exquisite ratatouille. (Yes, ratatouille, way before the movie came out.)

The cheese selection was intriguing: a local cow’s milk, a sheep’s milk from Georgia and a goat cheese from the Loire. Since every perfect ending needs to end sweet, we were brought a dish filled with homemade chocolates to wrap it all up. 


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