|How to Ruin a Lobster and a Pot Pie
by drboba on Sat May 22, 2010 6:51 am
| My wife and I had dinner at Michael Mina's Nobhill Tavern on May 19, 2010. When my wife sat down at her table at Michael Mina's, she thought her chair felt wobbly. Sure enough, the chair legs in the back were loose and in danger of coming off the seat. Fortunately, my wife is fairly slender, so she did not wind up on her keister.
After sitting about 10 minutes, our waiter came over. And we ordered drinks and an oyster appetizer. The drinks came after about another 10 minutes and the oysters came a short time later.
We had a discussion about the menu, and the waiter recommended several dishes, including one of the "signature" dishes, the Lobster Pot Pie. My wife ordered the market salad with goat cheese and beets and Atlantic Salmon, and I had the Chilled Pea Soup and the signature dish, the Lobster Pot Pie.
My pea soup was bland. The creme fraiche on the soup had a consistency too hard, in my opinion. I had to mash it against the side of the soup bowel to take bit of it with the soup itself. My wife complained that her salad was too salty. And this is from a woman who nearly always salts her food!
On to the entrees. My wife's salmon was very good. Moist and flavorful.
But the Lobster Pot Pie. One of the joys of a pot pie is breaking through the rich flakey crust and scooping up the meat and vegetables with the creamy sauce, and then enjoying this complex of flakiness and creaminess on the palate. The Lobster Pot Pie of Michael Mina violates this singular and essential gustatory and palatal pleasure of the pot pie (or any en croute dish, for that matter.)
The initial presentation is certainly impressive. It comes in a large copper pot and the crust looks is a mouth watering golden brown. But, here comes the fail.
The server cuts the crust away from the top of the pot, then places it on a dinner plate. At this point, my hopes for the dish started to wane. I knew I was not going to enjoy one of my favorite parts of the pot pie: scraping the crust off the edge of the pot. Next, the server took the lobster, which was chopped into two shelled claws, three or four chunks of the body, and the tail, and then reconstructed the lobster on top of the crust. Finally, the vegetables and sauce were ladled out over everything.
My first taste was of the claw. Tough, chewy. The tail meat, was even tougher and it took an effort to pull it from the shell.
But woe of all woes, the crust, the crust of a "signature" pot pie dish was dense, compacted, and most definitely unflakey. And this unfortunate unpuffiness of the pastry was exacerbated by smothering it with the sauce.
I'm all for innovative cuisine and new "twists" on standard fare. But the modifications should have a purpose, and not just done to be "different." Michael Mina's Lobster Pot Pie, takes one of the best features of a pot pie and literally turns it upside down, much to the dish's detriment. I still don't understand why someone would think smothering a crust under a sauce would be a good idea. (I feel the same way about the inexplicable urge of some "trendy" chefs to put a steak ON the mash potatoes.)
Our waiter was friendly enough, but inattentive. He seemed to spend too much time hovering over the LCD screen of his wait station. At the end of the dinner, he asked me how the pot pie was. After I gave him my opinion, he apologized and said he would have the manager come right over. The manager, of course, never came, even after the waiter promised a second time he would be right over.
We did not stay for desert.
The total for the dinner, which included a bottle of Duckhorn Savignon Blanc, came to just over $200.