5530 Douglas Boulevard, Suite 110, Granite Bay, CA, 95746. (916) 791-6200.
Bloggers aren't infallible. Sometimes we get caught up in the moment or just plain forget. Awhile ago, Mr. S. and I decided to get dressed up and venture out of the the Grid for a romantic dinner date in Granite Bay at the much touted Hawks Restaurant. I'd heard nothing but good things about the cuisine and was excited to try the chef's tasting menu. I was so excited about our date night that like a dolt I left my camera at home and then I got caught up chatting with Mr. S. that it completely alluded me to take photos with my phone during dinner. It wasn't until hours after dinner that I remembered and had that smack-your-forehead moment. Doh! Oh well, bad blogger! Anyhow, I hope you'll excuse the lack of photos for this post.
So when we booked our reservation I emailed the restaurant because our date night fell on Sacramento Wine & Dine Week and I wanted to make sure that Hawk's was still doing the Chef's Tasting Menu and not just the Wine and Dine menu. I received a super quick and friendly reply from chef, Mike Fagnoni, assuring me that the Chef's Tasting menu would indeed be available in addition to the limited prix fixe menu for the Wine & Dine Week. Perfect! Date night rolled around and we arrived at Quarry Pond, an upscale strip mall in the outskirts of Granite Bay that houses various restaurants, gourmet shops and boutiques. We checked in at the front desk and were told it'd be a few minutes. Ummm, ok....the restaurant was near empty but sure we'll wait. So we wait in the elegantly decorated lobby while the hostess scribbled some notes. After about ten minutes she looked up and said that she could seat us and led us back to a booth tucked back in the corner. The first thing that struck me when we entered the dining room was that the decor looked as if a Ballard Design and West Elm catalog had had a baby. It was robin's egg blue paired with dark wood and lots of wood carvings and draped cloth. Contemporary color meets old school interior decorating. Throughout the entire dinner I kept going back and forth whether I liked the decor or not. One minute I'd think it was elegant, then the next I would think it was overkill. I did love the light fixtures hanging in the women's restroom though and the outdoor patio looked quite beautiful.
Before I dive into describing the food I'm just going to tell you straight up it was amazing. The service, not so much. It was evident, our waitress approached our table thinking we were there for the Wine & Dine Week and was about was interested in serving us as she would be folding napkins. Her interest slightly peaked when she found out we were doing the Chef's Tasting Menu ($80 pp)and she did smile (once) when she came to drop off the check. But during the course of a seven course dinner we rarely saw her. Each course was brought out by a different expediter, which I didn't like. I felt like I was at a car lot being constantly being handed off. These young kids would bring out the course, set it down, rattle off a description by memory as fast as they could and be off in a flash. I did ask one of them a question about a dish before he made his getaway and I swear I got a deer in the headlights look before he scurried off to ask the kitchen.
Now we were never given a written copy of the menu at any time during our dinner and my memory's good but not good enough to remember every detail of seven courses so I did cheat and email the chef and ask for a copy of the night's tasting menu to help me out. Again, fast and friendly reply. (Wish he had been our server!)
Amuse bouche: Hibiscus Shooter: A gorgeous bright fuschia colored concoction served in a pert shot glass. The drink had a very mild-flavor, kind of like one of those mixed berry Juice Squeezes.
First course: Chilled Lobster Salad: Absolutely delicious! A nice big chunk of meaty lobster decorated with shockingly colorful splashes of California avocado, Manilla mango and lime vinagrette. It had a nice clean, fresh taste that woke up my tastebuds and made them want to flash some jazz hands!
Second course: Curried Chickpea and Cauliflower Soup with Spiced Rock Shrimp and Creme Fraiche: A nice followup to the salad. A bit heavier, spicier and had a nice creamy texture. The pungent curry smell made me feel like I was transported to the beaches of Morocco.
Third course: House Smoked Ricotta Ravioletti with Morel Mushrooms and Green Garlic: Mr. S. went bananas over this course, he loves morels. (He badgers me throughout the year asking when they'll be in season and when Taylor's Market will get them in stock.) The meaty taste of the morels paired well with the supple pillows of ravioletti.
Fourth course: Sonoma Duck Confit Served with Farro, Marcon Almonds and Bing Cherries: This was my favorite course. The duck confit was crisp, well-browned and oh-so-delicious! The combo of almonds and bing cherries almost gave it a dessert like quality. I definitely could have done seconds (or even thirds!) or this course.
Fifth course: Duo of Creekstone Beef: Grilled Filet Mignon and Braised Short Rib Paired with Pomme Purees and English Peas. Pretty straightforward meat dishes, but cooked perfectly. Both dishes were juicy and tender. I liked that the short rib wasn't overly fatty.
Sixth course: Lemon Grass Sorbet with Coconut Tapioca and Lime Mignonette: A refreshing palate cleanser after the heavy fifth course.
Seventh course: Dark Chocolate Cremeaux with Thai Basil Gelee and Pistachio Merangue: Neither of us really had the room for this last course and to be quite honest we took a bite and weren't really wowed by it. They could have just have stopped at the sixth course and we would have been happy.
Well prepared, beautifully presented food. We both enjoyed the meal itself immensely. But as someone who worked in the restaurant business for years I was pretty disappointed in the service. I'd love to go back because the food was terrific but I don't know if I could justify spending that kind of money or spending the time to drive out there for the type of service we received- a vacillation between harried and apathetic. Hawk's you dropped the ball on that one. Whether it was an off night or not I don't know; unfortunately, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.