As 2016 is winding down, it's a great time to celebrate and treat ourselves to a nice meal in an elegant place for a job well done. This year has been a somber one, but also one of great joy, and we should focus on treating ourselves well. I believe that giving yourself a treat of a fabulous meal with all of the trimmings.
Rancho Santa Fe is a small community in the North County region here in San Diego. It's a nice place to get away, and breathe a little easier, to relax. Last week, we enjoyed a very special Christmas lunch at Ponsaty's, a beautiful French restaurant owned and operated by renowned chef Patrick Ponsaty.
Ponsaty's is truly a special place, with a lovely dining room and quiet elegance. The decor is a gorgeous blue and steely grays, with a charming austerity. It's certainly a wonderful place for celebration, even if the celebration is simply a Wednesday lunch with friends or a partner.
I was a bit in awe of the dining room, made all the more opulent by the elegant Christmas decor. Opening my menu, I knew that we were in for a real experience, with classic cuisine prepared and presented in the most sumptuous way, created with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Ponsaty's starts everyone with their delicious truffled popcorn, made fresh and presented in a polished silver bowl. It was delicious, as is everything that is touched by truffle oil, and we had to have the bowl refilled (not even embarrassed over that one).
To further whet our appetites, we were served an amuse-bouche of raw vegetables from Chino Farms with a compound butter for dipping. A little crudite is always a good thing, and these were honestly, some of the best I've tasted. Not at all "rooty" tasting, but fresh and crunchy, and complimented by the butter. Amazing!
I adore chestnuts at Christmas, and chestnut soup is a wonderful way to incorporate them. A creamy chestnut soup, served chilled with a drop of caviar, was a perfectly luxurious indulgence as a second amuse-bouche.
For an appetizer, we chose a classic oysters Rockefeller topped with a cheese and mixed with parsley, served atop a bed of seaweed. Delicious, and the perfect appetizer to start a luscious meal.
For our soup course, we shared a special lobster bisque. Lobster bisque is one of the best soups in modern Western cooking, but sadly, often winds up oversalted and tasting of putrid sea water. This soup was freshly made, with shrimp thrown in for interest. You could truly taste every ingredient that went into the soup. Covered with a puff pastry top, this soup was a meal unto itself!
So after all of these amazing starts, we were blown away by our main courses. Steak is always a good idea, so we had to try the Grilled King Beef Flat Iron Steak. Served with a small green salad and pomme frites (French fries), this steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, sliced up and juicy. One of the best pieces of beef that I've tasted; definitely a meal for a beef lover.
The steak was amazing, but the dish to get is the Mountain Meadow Mushroom ravioli. Mushroom ravioli might sound ordinary, but trust me, this dish was astoundingly good. Homemade mushroom ravioli so fresh it was melting, floating in a ruby port wine sauce with shaved parmesan. The contrast of the wine sauce with the rich mushrooms made this dish positively decadent. Order this with a nice red wine; you won't regret it.
The vanilla creme brûlée was just perfection. Light, sweet, bursting with vanilla and cream, it had nothing to hide, and was just a clean vanilla flavor. It's a classic for a reason.
Our final dessert was the pistachio creme brûlée. Marvelous in it's innovation, this was the most different and beautiful brûlées that I've ever had, but also one of the best. It was not overly sweet at all, but still very rich and satisfying, with deep vanilla notes and the toothsome flavor of the pistachios.
Ponsaty's is a great addition to Rancho Santa Fe, and a perfect place for a memorable meal. Reservations are recommended, and can be made here.