Monday, May 20, 2013

Maine Monday: Mocktails du jour

David's Opus Ten is a unique and intimate dinner experience in downtown Portland. And definitely not a bring your kids to dinner kind of place, no matter how well behaved they are or how fancy their collared shirt. Chef David Turin opened Opus Ten in the back of his already very successful David's on Monument Square, focusing on flavor, beautiful presentation, and regional cuisine.

It's a nine course (seven during the week) prix fixe menu of whatever the talented chef puts together from the day's freshest ingredients. The cozy dining room is tucked away in the back of David's, and with only 18 seats and a small dedicated kitchen, you feel like you've been invited to the most elegant dinner party.

We spent a lovely evening at David's Opus Ten recently, and the food was beyond amazing. Each course was so different from the last and small in size but huge in flavor. Quail's egg ravioli, presented in a small dish while the chef comes out from the kitchen to pour the steaming butter and egg emulsion over the ravioli, completing the cooking process right in front of you. Butter poached lobster (and I'm not a fan of lobster) sitting on top of a crispy tiny risotto cake, and seven more delicious dishes rounded out our three and a half hour dining experience.

Blueberry Mint "soda"
But the most surprising part of the night was that I didn't have to bow out of the beverage pairings of the evening. I offered to be the designated driver, which next time I'll need to remember to do only after I've seen the wine list. Several of my favorites were on the list, but it can't always be cocktails & Chassagne-Montrachets.

The brilliant chefs at Opus Ten have thought ahead and prepared very interesting non-alcoholic mocktails to go with each course. The drinks were all delicious, and I didn't have to miss out on the pleasure of having something new and colorful placed in front of me before every new dish. It was certainly a lot more fun than sitting there sipping my Pellegrino while everyone at the table swirls and sniffs their way through the wine pairings.

All my drinks were so bubbly and fun (except for the Smokey Apple, that got passed over to the peaty Scotch loving Mr. C&G) that I never missed the alcohol. The Verde Mary was delicious and if I thought we'd have even a chance of recreating it at home I'd get my live-in bartender right on it. The rest of the mocktails look pretty easy to turn into cocktails, and you can be sure I'll put my best researchers right on it.

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