Thursday, September 6, 2012

Herbsaint: A blossoming birthday ritual

This past Saturday, the power was still out and John and I sat sweating, dreading another evening of darkness and sticky hands of Gin Rummy. I was irritable, stinky and facing a dinner of tuna-in-a-can when I suddenly realized I'd completely missed out on a birthday celebration. The week previous, when my birthday actually occurred, I was overloaded with work and struggling to meet far too many deadlines and had put off my birthday dinner to be enjoyed "sometime soon." Well, it was about damn time...

Before my phone battery petered out, I found out on Facebook that Herbsaint was open, so we made reservations, took long, cold showers and caught a cab downtown to finally celebrate my 41st birthday in a sweet, air-conditioned dining room on St. Charles Avenue where the hostess kindly agreed to charge our phones while we dined.

Eating at Herbsaint is always a pleasure, but it was hard not to take joy in the little things on this particular occasion...things like tall, glistening glasses of ice water that were refilled as soon as they were emptied, the sounds of laughter and conversation from tables around us and a cool, stone floor that I simply couldn't resist touching with my bare feet. So, I slipped off my sandals at what?!

Narrowing down the menu to only a few choices was tough, but we muddled through. John started out with a cool, mouthwatering Watermelon Gazpacho with a creamy, sweet hill of Louisiana jumbo lump crab piled in the center and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint. I chose the Seared Shrimp with summer squash and chili oil and we both lovingly soaked up the remaining sauce on my plate with thick slices of warm ciabatta. Take that Chicken of the Sea!

For my entree I chose to replenish my iron with a Top Cut Ribeye seasoned with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. My tender and juicy, sliced steak was served with a large pile of their addictive French fries and pimenton aioli for dipping. Yes, I dipped some steak bites in there as well! John ordered Curried Jumbo Shrimp with creamed corn. The spicy, earthy flavor of the shrimp went perfectly with the sweet creamed corn for such a delicious combination, let me tell you, I was a wee bit jealous.

We finished off this most perfect dinner with an utterly decadent dessert created by one of my favorite pastry chefs, Rhonda Ruckman. This time, the magic consisted of a delicate Apple Galette topped with caramelized frozen custard and drizzled with a thick caramel sauce. We had died and gone to heaven.

This was the second birthday I'd celebrated at Herbsaint and I believe it is fast becoming a tradition. Do you see me complaining? Well, to be perfectly honest, I did complain a bit that night, but it was only because I had going home.

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