Sunday, October 21, 2012

Green Valley Grill

Green Valley Grill (GVG, if you’re cool) is located in the elegant O. Henry Hotel , and is another knockout restaurant of the Quaintance-Weaver empire. Print Works Bistro is a sister restaurant to GVG, and after several incredible meals there, I knew I would be blown away by the atmosphere, service and menu. Once again, Chef Leigh Hesling proves that he is a master of the culinary world, and his inventive dishes and obviously thoughtful preparation of the food will have me returning again and again.

Big band jazz pours through the speakers, antique tapestries adorn the walls, and a beautiful mural above the kitchen make for a historic, classy vibe. After answering several questions about the menu, our server brought over slices of in-house freshly baked wheat bread. A 2010 Don Gascon Agentinian Malbec was perfect for my palate.

Dinner entrees are preceded by a simple salad, tossed with Parmesan Cheese and a tangy house vinaigrette. The menu changes monthly, and I expect people to demand that this version of the Pan Seared Sea Scallops stay on the year-round menu. I was blown away by the conception and execution of this dish. A whimsical presentation allows for a squirt of grilled lemon on the scallops, which were cooked to perfection. The sweetness of the piquillo pepper cream sauce marries beautifully with the salty, smokiness of the chorizo. What rounds out this dish is the slight nuttiness of the saffron rice. Wilted Spinach provides a nice freshness. These flavors come together perfectly; Chef Hesling’s vision for this dish is outstanding.

Grape Leaf Wrapped Salmon is a menu staple, as it very well should be. Fresh, tender salmon is wrapped in a slightly charred grape leaf, which matches the smokiness of the tomato relish perfectly. This takes away any fishy flavor that you expect to find with salmon. The sweetness from the raisins in the relish gives the tomato an even deeper layer of flavor. Creamy polenta and broccoli are solid sides, and pine nuts provide nice crunch. There is a lot going on here, and all of it works. (The photo does not do it justice.)

I would get on my hands and knees to beg Chef Hesling to keep the Truffled Mushroom and Gruyere Quiche on the year-round menu. The "purse" presentation differs from the traditional triangular serving. Cheesy eggs are wrapped in a flaky, buttery crust, and the star here are the truffled mushrooms. Rich, robust, complex flavor from the truffle is a wonderful match to the nuttiness of the gruyere and creaminess of the egg. My mouth salivated with anticipation of each bite. The kitchen was very accommodating, and happily substituted ripe fruit for the Arugula Salad. (There’s not much I won’t eat, but arugula lives on that short list.) I always find it impossible to pick a perfectly ripe melon - in restaurants, you’re usually served crunchy melon – but this was a juicy treat. I was also pleased to find a slice of Carrot Bread with a strawberry on top. Carrot bread is perfectly spicy for fall, and the strawberry resembled a heart – pleasing to the eye and the palate.

You cannot go wrong at GVG. Management knows how to attract a crowd, and the kitchen knows how to keep them coming back. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the careful attention to detail regarding the service and the food. In addition to cooking classes (review to come soon!), GVG presents Afternoon Tea daily, and special events like Cake Decorating. This has very quickly become a personal favorite.

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