Having grown up in the Deep South, I have tasted so many desserts that my desire for cake, pie, cookies and other assorted sweet pastry creations is virtually nonexistent. I'd rather have a piece of good dark chocolate and a flute of champagne instead of a slab of cake. My real love is for unusual entrees, not dessert. In my gustatory adventures throughout life I've tasted many things that don't qualify as dessert but do qualify as bold choices.
I ate my first oyster off the shell, standing in shallow water outside a fishing boat that was pulled up on the beach in Rockport. My father and uncles had gathered a great bucket full of oysters and were shucking them while my sister and I played in the waves nearby. We were too young to be anything but curious, and so it was as a fearless 3 year old that I began my love affair with mollusks.
Since that first briny bite, I've gone on to other courageous choices that include many types of wild game, ethnic dishes with unusual main ingredients and various organ meats. Yes, organ meats. I am a girl who doesn't shy away from liver, has tried calf fries (anything is good fried and dipped in ranch dressing) and now can add sweetbreads to my list.
On a recent visit to Wink for a post MS150 celebration dinner, Frank and I shared a delightful dining experience. Wink is an upscale restaurant cleverly hidden in a shopping strip. I say cleverly hidden because I'm certain that's the only reason my late request for a reservation was honored. Someone couldn't figure out that Wink is located behind Whole Earth Provision, next to the dry cleaners and had given up their spot. Wink's decor is trendy fabulous and their food is nothing but sensational.
We started off with a green onion tartlet amuse bouche--always a nice touch to get a free little bite of something while waiting for your cocktails. Frank enjoyed a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale with his meal while I tantalized my tastebuds with a sparkling pinot noir cuvee that was TDF. To.Die.For. I have the full name written down at home and will be attempting to find it at Central Market, Grapevine Market or somewhere else in town. It was the perfect blend of sweet and dry without being over the top on either and it was bubbly. Loved it. And I loved our tuna tartare appetizer. Served with a few homemade potato chips, the tuna was so tasty I wished for two servings. I almost resorted to growling over the plate but luckily Frank gave me the last few bites.
Our entrees were impeccable. Frank had a phenomenal duck breast, so tender and flavorful that if you closed your eyes you'd swear you were eating a fine cut of steak. It was served with fingerling potatoes and amaranth, a green similar to spinach but with a milder flavor, and a red wine sauce. My sweetbreads were seared to a nice crunchy finish on top, creamy tender underneath and were mouthwateringly delicious. The taste was delicate but with a richness that lingered and mixed perfectly with the nutty quinoa and slices of elf mushroom served alongside it. Perfection on a fork. We both swapped bites and admired the other's choice while leisurely devouring our meals.
I did eat dessert, despite my opening paragraph stating that it normally doesn't thrill me. We chose a selection of mini offerings that included a berry topped creme brulee, lemon meringue pot and a flourless chocolate torte. The creme brulee was good. The flourless chocolate torte was sublime. The lemon meringue pot was outstanding. The meringue itself was in the shape of an Easter egg, with the lemon filling in between the top and bottom half. Garnished with thin strips of candied lemon peel, the dessert was pleasantly tangy with a punch of refreshing lemon flavor.
Over all, our dining experience was wonderful. Wink is a great restaurant for any special occasion, although I did not see much on the menu for my vegetarian friends. And please, try the sweetbreads. As our waitress said, "they're the best dish on the menu."