Sunday, December 8, 2013
David’s Opus Ten opens tonight, and if you’ve already made reservations, good for you. You are in for a treat.
I got a sneak peek of the restaurant and its first menu on Friday night. The interior is understated yet elegant. Chef/owner David Turin hired Kaplan Thompson, the same architects that designed Miyake on Fore Street ( and won the 2012 AIA Maine Design Award for it), to redesign the space, which is located inside Turin’s Monument Square restaurant.
The brick walls are softened by white fabric draping suspended from the ceiling and the clear globe fixtures.
A cubbyhole in the brick wall that used to house a window (a real one and a fake one) is now a wine storage area.
The small kitchen includes an overlooking “chef’s table” that seats two.
Here's chef Bo Byrne, who came over from David's 388, in the tiny new kitchen.
The entire restaurant-within-a restaurant only seats 18, and they will not be turning tables. This is a practical decision, since the night I visited it took a good two-and-a-half to three hours to get through the nine-course tasting menu. Reservations (773-4340) are taken from 6 p.m. onward.
The prix fixe menu will feature seven courses for $55 during the week (Tuesday through Thursday), with optional wine pairings $35 extra. On the weekend, there will be nine courses for $65, plus $45 for optional wine pairings. There will also be a full bar available.
Our server told us Friday night that the menu is likely to change about once a month.
This place is quite different from either of Turin’s other two restaurants, and the creativity and quality of the food make it apparent he is stepping up his game big time in a city that is filled with fine dining establishments.
We started with a plate of prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano, warmed olives, and housemade seeded crostini (flax seeds, almonds, hemp, dried cranberries) served to us from a rectangular serving table on wheels that moved from table to table. Our server also brought various kinds of bread (rosemary olive, peasant wheat, etc.) for us to try throughout the evening and dip in a mixture of fig-infused vinegar, olive oil and thyme.
The first course was one of our favorites: A chévre and truffle fritter with peeky toe crab meat and oyster sauce, served on an oyster shell. Pairing: NV Champagne, Delamotte, Brut
Second course: Butter poached lobster, risotto cake, citrus, truffle, micro greens
Pairing: ‘10 Pouilly-Fuisse, Joseph Drouhin, France
Maybe it’s because I live in Maine and I eat a lot of lobster, but for me the risotto cake stole the show here, and I wanted more. If a pan of this risotto were set in front of me, I would eat it right out of the pan and call it dinner. My dinner companion loved the wine pairing that went with this dish.
Third course: Peppered salmon sashimi with Norwiss frites and apple salad
Pairing: ‘10 Pinot Noir, La Crema, Sonoma
A bit of a spicy finish to this pinot, which paired nicely with the peppered salmon.
Fourth course: Chanterelle mushrooms and angel hair with parmesan tuile
Fifth course: Raspberry, apple sorbet with frozen basil infused vodka
Turin came around personally to pour the vodka for this intermezzo from a bottle encased in a block of ice.
Sixth course: Magret duck breast, foie gras butter, grilled iceberg lettuce
Pairing: ‘10 Saumur Champigny, Clos Cristal, France
Seventh course: Mushroom-dusted beef tenderloin, exotic mushrooms, foie gras “bordelaise,” truffle potato, spinach
Pairing: ‘10 Malbec Enamore, Renacer, Mendoza
This was my favorite course. The beef dish was very rich, but if it were offered on a standard menu I would order it as an entree without missing a beat. The wine was also my favorite of the evening, partly because of its interesting back story of being produced in both Italy and Argentina, but mostly because it was just terrific.
Eighth course: Apple tart tatin, French butter rum ice cream, rum and maple sauce
Pairing ‘08 Late Harvest, Mad Cuvee, Hungary
I expected the dessert to be a bit dense, for some reason, but it was light and airy and delicious. The wine was another favorite pairing because it was perfect with the apples and not too sweet.
To finish: Salt caramel chocolate truffles; chocolate, caramel nut bark; anise and almond cookies
Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.
Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business before turning to journalism more than a decade ago. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs. A newcomer to Portland, she is an online content producer for the Press Herald.
Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod [at] pressherald.com.
On Twitter: @susansaxelrod