Okay....let's say Cafe Ponte will forever be my favorite spot to dine. Honestly from the service to the decor to the food, it was wonderful.
First, all of us were wearing black or navy. Jeff, our waiter (very cute) asked if we wanted bottled water to drink, and we picked the sparkling. While sipping our cocktails, he came by and changed out our white napkins to black, so that our clothes would not get any lint on them from the white cloth. (Little does he know that I wear my food, a little white lint never hurt anybody) LOL But it impressed Fred and Olivia to have that special touch. She had a citrus mango martini and I had my frothy cucumber lime martini, Fred had a glass of wine,. Then the bread came around. The waiter had a long basket of tempting fresh from the oven choices. There was a asiago cheese bread with a generous sprinkle of sea salt on the crust (Fred's), a puffy generous square of onion focaccia (Liv's choice) and olive and rosemary dense loaf (mine). All were sublime. No foil wrapped patties of butter....there was a lovely dish of fresh softened butter for spreading. The focaccia didn't need butter it was olive oil rich and Liv loved it.
Jeff presented us with three spoons of an amuse-bouche, complimentary "tickle the palate" from the chef. It was a wonderful goat cheese foam/mousse, topped with a sprinkle of chives and candied walnut. It was a perfect bite, of light as air goat cheese and savory mild onion. Our first glass of wine arrived, Pineridge-Chenin Blanc Viognier...a dry white, light and crisp.
Next to arrive was the deep bowl of mushroom soup with black trumpet mushroom "dust" and a truffle cream. We all swooned from the aroma and deep creamy mushroom bisque. If allowed I think Fred would have licked the bowl. Jeff said "we have a private curtain pull just for that purpose, sir". It was velvet in the spoon, deeply earthy and rich with mushroom. Best ever. A lovely glass of Chateau de Sancerre served next with our salad course. The salad was a lovely cup of Bibb lettuce (organic and locally grown) filled with delicate supremes of ruby red grapefruit and mandarin oranges, diced jicama, perfectly ripe rich avocado, tiny globes of tomatoes, toasted almonds and a orange champagne vinaigrette. It was chilled and perfectly dressed with a vibrant zingy light dressing. Our next wine was a Pozzan-Pinot Noir. Wonderful nose, great legs and delicious. The next course was a squash mascarpone agnoletti (like a ravioli) two to a plate with a lemon foam sauce, a chive oil, and dusted with chopped nuts, and herbs. Okay now it was my turn to lick the plate..."where is that privacy curtain, Jeff?" The lemon sauce was the lightest Hollandaise ever, lemon and butter, whipped up to a froth. We were really into the wine pairings with the delicious food and sterling service. The dinner is paced beautifully. Jeff swept away the agnoletti dishes and presented us with an "intermezzo". Cunning little spoons filled with an orange gelee and topped with ruby red grapefruit pearls....they took ruby red grapefruit juice and made into large caviar spheres or bubbles of freshness. They popped in your mouth and flooded it with citrusy cleansing juice. They were fun. Next wine is a lovely glass of red, Troyson-Cab-Meritage, rich enough for the next course. Fred and Olivia opted for the rib eye cap "spinalis" rubbed with espresso rub, roasted shallot sauce, a wedge of perfect potato gratin and mushroom ragout. It was a gorgeous plate...meat was beyond tender and the potato was the best ever from Olivia. The flavors were harmonious and earthy. I had the black grouper, served with a leek risotto, the fish was a perfect filet crusted with coriander, the sauce was a browned butter infused with chardonnay, tiny perfect carrots and a tuile topper with sesame seeds. Simply delicious.
Next up was the cheese course with another lovely red, a red zinfandel, Jinzin. The cheese plates were gorgeous works of art. There was a small cube of smoked gruyere, a drizzle of organic honey, fig jam, some candied walnuts...crisp toasts studded with fruit, another piece of cheese that Jeff described as the "Bermuda Triangle of goat cheese" It was frankly, scary looking....it was triangular, the outside was veined in black and grey and the interior was a deep creamy yellow. It had a puddle of apricot jam and a bacon crusted nut next to it. It was an explosion of tastes...each bite was intense, fruity, cheese, sharp and creamy combined.
Another pour of wine, this time 7 Sisters Moscato to match our mini trio of desserts.
A tiny carmelized walnut tart, a flourless chocolate cake topped with a light chocolate mousse topped with a perfect chocolate tuile, and an orange creamsicle pannacotta. The cooked cream was topped with more caviar pearls of orange juice. It was fun but not our favorite, The tart was our hands down best dessert, the lovely caramel filling and sugar dusted nuts in a buttery crust was perfection. It wasn't that we each chose one dessert each, we were served tiny portions of each dessert,
After we were finished moaning, Jeff arrived to deliver the coup de grace, a trio of delectable chocolates from the fancy chocolatier William Dean in Dunedin.
We went to the piano bar after dinner and had an espresso and after-dinner martinis, Fred had his beer.
We dine anonymously and pay for our meals in full. Dinner for three tasting menus, with a Groupon coupon and three wine flights, 3 pre-dinner cocktails, bottled water and extra tip for superior service by Jeff was 350.86.