Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mulvaney's B & L

I had a little something to celebrate (no I'm not pregnant) so me and smiller went to Mulvaney's B & L last night. This place looks great inside. I had considered going to Masons but although the food is outstanding there, the vibe is so dressy and bustling that I hesitated. I just wanted a place that felt casual, and Mulvaneys was just what I had in mind. Most of you have probably been inside this place when it was New Helvetia (before that brief, lame period when it became the Crispy Kreme Korporate offices), so you can picture it. It retains that same character, yet there are some nice new touches here and there. It's a cozy brick space with super high ceilings. There is now a chef's station where the ordering counter used to be, in addition to the kitchen in back. Some warm lighting has been installed and my favorite thing are the two large, cookbook-filled,wooden, glass-fronted bookshelves that are inside.

The menu is pretty small, and I'm betting that it changes frequently, because I know that the chef wants to focus on seasonal, local produce. Quite a few of the starters and small plates sounded very appealing.

Here's some wine list rambling so skip it if you don't care. The wine list is small and there are some great wines on there. We had a German riesling (surprise) that was scrump. Liv, can you help me with the name cuz I want to look for it at Cortis. They offer all wines by the glass and a glass is one-fourth the price of a bottle. Not much incentive to buy a bottle there. Last night they only had prosecco by the glass for their sparkling wines, which is kind of a bummer. Also, too many chardonnays on the white list. Liv tried valiantly to pick one that I would like, but it was still too oaky and soft for me. Lots of intriguing reds, and Liv recommended a good cab.

On to the food. We started with an asparagus, shaved parmesan, proscuitto appetizer. There was also a soft boiled egg presented on the side. The asparagus was quite black from the grill, which gave it a nice smoky flavor. The flavors blended very well, and the yolk was good as a kind of sauce. Ever since GW made hot pot for me, which has a dipping sauce of egg yolk, soy sauce, and some hot sauce, I have been all about the yolks. My only complaint is that the egg could have been softer, it was a bit cold as if it had been pre-boiled and refrigerated. I would actually like a soft poached egg on top of this dish, but that probably wouldn't appeal to everyone. However, delicious.

Then, we split a small plate that was simply described as clams, chorizo, and chick peas. I will order any dish that has chorizo in it. I had debated this as an entree because it sounded more appealing to me than any of the entrees, and it was large enough to be one. I guess I should have asked. It was a large bowl of clams in the shell, slices of chorizo, and chick peas. It also came with two large, grilled, butter-soaked pieces of bread to soak up the tasty broth. I couldn't identify the herbs but I loved this dish. Especially the chorizo.

At this point I was already full but the entrees were still to come. Smiller had lamb, and besides a lamb burger I had once, it was the best lamb I've ever tasted. Not sure of the cut, but it was rare, tender and pretty gamey. I know that gamey is usually a perjorative, but if you really like lamb you probably like that flavor so I don't see it as a bad thing. The sauce was a cabernet reduction that set off the gaminess PERFECTLY. The sauce was so rich that I swore that it had some unsweetened chocolate in it but it didn't. Fucking great!!! I got the California sea bass. I probably should have been adventurous and tried the pork three ways, but the thought of trying to eat ribs neatly stopped me. I'm not that big on cooked fish dishes. Raw fish, sure. The fish was set on some rice that was flavored really well, but at this point I was pretty drunk so my memory for the dish is hazy. The fish itself was just OK, not as fatty as I expected from sea bass, but maybe I haven't had Cali sea bass before.

We finished off the dinner with a glass of Dow's tawny port, compliments of the chef. They only have three ports available, and the tawny had a rich, caramel flavor. I'll be honest though, I was close to wasted by this time so I could have been drinking turpentine and I would have been stoked. We didn't get any dessert, but I did notice that they have hand-made ice cream in interesting flavors, including lavendar, which I would like to try.

So all in all, it was a highly enjoyable dinner and I would LOVE to go back. The atmosphere is completely comfortable and relaxed. The patio will be great in the summer, and I think they are going to start serving lunch soon. It's great for a full-on fancy meal, but I bet it would be really nice for a glass of wine and a small plate on the patio.

A shout out to Marleta (hope I spelled it right) for keeping us hydrated.


Anonymous said...

I also really enjoyed both the asparagas, egg & proscuitto starter and lamb entree. Great place and I hear the deserts are just as good if not better than everything else.

Anonymous said...

Yum! I've been wanting to check out Mulvaneys and your review just cemented that.

Anonymous said...

Is that lady Ginger the pastry chef? Do they have a website? I remember googling it a while ago.

Also, has anyone eaten at Island Tacos on Folsom blvd, near the sub shack/TJ's? Erik and I had a tamale there the other day. It was decent, but I want to go back for tacos. The Grandma/Grandson combo working there were too cute.


Anonymous said...

The Riesling is called Langwerth Von Simmern and it's from the Rheingau valley. The Viognier that Miller was fond of was called Calera but I don't remember where its from, most likely CA. As for Ginger, she makes our chocolates but not our desserts. Lastly, the tacos at Island Tacos are delish!


cakegrrl said...

The steak I tasted at B & L was excellent. The place is top notch.

Anonymous said...

Calera is based in the Central Coast, but I believe their viognier is specifically from a little area called Mt. Harlan. Incidentally, Calera was one of the first Cali producers to grow viognier! And their's is really good. I'm so impressed that your restaurant sells it by the glass, Liv! That's a nice bottle of wine.