Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ah, The Lark

Oh, we had a lovely time at The Lark in West Bloomfield. Deservedly restaurant of the year from Hour for the second time and certainly the best meal we've had in years.

It could have been a disaster - The Lark called Thursday to confirm our Saturday reservation and when I told the caller we were planning on Friday she became it seemed rather flustered and stumbled around a bit before she gathered herself and promised they would manage Friday night. They did indeed and seated the five of us at a nice table overlooking the garden.

The Lark is primarily prix fixe with your dinner including cold and warm appetizers, salad and main course. Dessert and drinks are extra. In addition, we chose the wine bouquet which includes four wines from the by-the-glass menu with both appetizer courses, main course and dessert. It works out to perhaps a bit over two regular glasses of wine for $32.50 each. That worked nicely for us for two reasons: we would be leaving in two cars and neither driver would have had more than two glasses of wine in two-and-a-half hours and the college age folks with us would get a chance to sample a larger variety of good wines (as would I).

From the cold appetizer cart we enjoyed oysters (Maryland farm-raised), shrimp, a slaw, an apple-duck salad and beef carpaccio. Both the duck and the beef had lovely, smooth ribbons of tasty fat. The oysters were juicy and perfectly fresh.

The hot appetizers included pasta with rock shrimp, a thick sweet mushroom bisque with sherry and a sole and scallop grill with a sweet pepper sauce. We shared all of them. The sole-and-scallop dish was marvelous - perfectly grilled with a mild sauce that fit it perfectly.

The salads were greens with incredibly smooth blue cheese and a sweet cashew dressing or greens with artichokes and a sherry viniagrette.

Our main courses included The Lark's signature rack of lamb - rosy, tender, curried; prime beef strip loin with an intense red burgundy sauce, pan-fried lobster with butter and red pepper sauce and a crispy, grease-free roasted duck with a sweet sun-dried plum and Armagnac sauce on braised cabbage. The steaks came with pommes frites which were OK. Years ago at The Lark I had a steak with a delicate, crispy potato dish constructed like a basket. Oh, that dish was wonderful.

Desserts included cherry tart (heavenly-light pastry), cheesecake, blueberries and pineapple, chocolate truffles and a light-as-air lemon cake. Desserts were fine, but we really didn't need them. By the time we got home, I was feeeling a bit fuller than I would have liked.

There was not a loser in any of the wines we sampled. There were:
Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett, Von Kesselstatt, 2004
Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc, 2004
Qupe Block Eleven Reserve Chardonnay, 2003
Pouilly Fuisse, Latour, 2004

Leal Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002
Domaine Monpertuis Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2000
Rancho Zabacco Chiotto Zinfandell, 2001/02

The only issue to be raised with the wines was the waiter's suggestion of the Riesling with the lobster. Not as sweet as most Riedslings, it was nonetheless way too sweet for the lobster and butter.

The Lark is expensive. For dinner with dessert and modest wine consumption, you should count on $150 or more per person. We can't do that on a regular basis, but it is truly worth it on rare special occasions.

The Lark is warm and small, cozy and friendly. Jim and Mary Lark are always there. The service is professional and pleasant. The food is of the highest quality, prepared expertly. And we had no difficulty getting a reservation for Friday night - perhaps a effect of Detroit's dismal economy.

The Lark is rightly recognized as one of the premier restaurants in Michigan and the Midwest.

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