April 10, 2013


A couple weeks back, we celebrated my birthday at Sage inside Aria. We've been once before during Restaurant Week and it was fantastic. It was time to return. We made reservations on opentable ahead of time. We were seated promptly upon arrival. We had a quaint table that was a bit sectioned off; I loved it, it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We perused the menu and scanned the tablet with all the beer and wine selections. Sage is one of the few restaurants that offers beer pairings with the tasting menu, it was tempting, but we preferred to order from the menu. We selected beers; North Coast Scrimshaw ($8) for Frank and Lefe Blonde ($10) for me. While our waiter fetched those, we were given a choice of breads: bacon or sourdough with sea salt. We snacked on these scrumptious treats and ordered the green garlic soup ($16) and roasted sweet breads ($17) to get us started.

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Sweetbreads have intrigued me, I've only seen them on menus previously in my less adventurous days. I figured there was no better time to try them than at 33. Well? They were... delicious. For those unfamiliar, they are most often the thymus gland of calves, lambs or piglets. When properly prepared, like these were, they are a bit crisp on the outside but perfectly tender inside. Think about the most flavorful chicken nugget you can imagine, times that by 1000 and you have sweetbreads. These were served with glazed bacon, trumpet mushrooms, and creamy polenta. The garlic soup is a vegan dish. The garlic is very mild, and the soup is like silk. At the bottom of the bowl was a sweet surprise of potato stuffed tortellinis. Truly it was thing of simplistic beauty.

For the main course we had difficulty making our selections because everything sounded wonderful. Eventually, we narrowed our choices down to the red snapper ($42) with crispy bread crust, english peas and braised leeks, and the lamb saddle ($42) with braised lamb shank and fava beans.

I don't know that I've laid my eyes on two more beautiful dishes that packed such a punch of flavor. Well executed doesn't begin to described how expertly these dishes are prepared. My snapper was superb, but I must admit it was outshined by the lamb. The fava beans weren't our favorite, but the lamb prepared two ways was stellar. My favorite was the braised shank it was so carmelized it was like candy. I mean that in the best way possible. I'd ask for it for my final meal. It was that good.

We didn't think the meal could get any better, but we gave the dessert menu a gander. I have this knack for selecting items I can hardly pronounce because I'm so curious about items that are new to me. In this case it was the Gianduja Pave ($12). I didn't have the slightest clue what it would be, but I was anxious to try it. I later learned that Gianduja is a type of sweet chocolate with hazelnut paste. It's used in the pave which reminded me of a light mousse, it was served with a scoop of olive oil ice cream, and dressed with hazelnut crunch, basil jam and pomegranates. I love desserts that are a bit more savory than sweet and this was simply perfect. A perfect end to exceptional meal. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my thirty-third year.

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