Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lunch on the Riviera

Yesterday Chris turned 40, and we thought it fitting to celebrate with a fancy lunch. After all, we are both self-employed in the summer and can take long lunches if we so desire. After some rumination about where to go, I recalled that Chris hadn't yet enjoyed a meal at Riviera, so I booked us a table and off we went.

Riviera is such a glorious room, and it's even nicer with daylight streaming in from the high windows. We had a nice table for two about halfway back with a friendly and well-informed server who took great care of us. I generally don't drink in the daytime, so I ordered sparkling water, but it came with two freshly-cut slices of lemon and a cut-glass tumbler. Classy. Chris got one of his favourite beers, Saint of Circumstance by Collective Arts.

The lunch menu is much shorter than dinner, and includes salads, pastas, sandwiches, and a few more traditional mains. Chris nearly always gravitates towards a fish dish, so he selected the Euro bass with morels and peas. I dithered over steak-frites and spaghetti with shrimp, but ended up going for "Le Big Matt," which I correctly deduced was a burger. I asked what it came with, and our server winkingly rhymed off the Big Mac jingle: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese... you get the idea. I couldn't resist after that, though I did get the side salad with it, thank the gods. 

The fish was a perfect slim fillet, skin seared crisp, with a buttery flavour enhanced by a white wine and butter sauce with (I think) tarragon, over morsels of morels, fresh summer peas, and slices of baby potato. Chris just about licked the bowl, it was that good. (I know because I tried it.)

The burger was... I feel like I've been overusing the word epic lately, but it really was. It managed to perfectly capture the spirit of a Big Mac, while upscaling the experience with great beef, a soft homemade bun and cucumber pickles, fresh lettuce, and a not-too-sweet sauce. The melty cheese pulled it all together. This was a riot, though very messy to eat (think sauce down the wrist and sesame seeds everywhere). I resorted to knife and fork, sparing my dress the indignity. I'd order it again, though. What a treat.

Chris and I swapped modes for dessert: I opted for restraint with the pavlova while he went hardcore with the peanut butter mousse. The latter had flourless brownie bits and hot fudge sauce to take it over the top. To him, it was the perfect birthday dessert.

My pav was perfection to both the eye and the palate: crisp without, chewy within, on a thick puddle of calamansi curd, topped with dollops of white chocolate ganache, micro mint leaves, and supremes of ruby-red grapefruit and orange. I've rarely come across such a well-designed and delicious dessert. I thought the deconstructed lemon tart from their opening menu couldn't be beaten. I stand corrected.

It felt gloriously decadent to have such a delicious and relaxing lunch on a Monday afternoon. But a birthday calls for a little indulgence, don't you think? (I've already requested we return for mine in February.)

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