Kat: Roasted Portabello & Mozzarella on CiabattaOnions, peppers, roasted red pepper coulis, jicama-apple slaw
Brandy: Dungeness Crab & Asparagus MeltParmesan, artisan sourdough, red pepper coulis, julienne fries
My oldest daughter texted me the other day and offered to take me out to dinner for Mother’s Day. Now, isn’t she just the sweetest little thing? The catch – we have to go someplace in The Book, and she doesn’t want to have to pay for parking. Hey, she’s 21 and working part-time; who can blame her? So she came out to the Valley and we went to Max at Mirabeau.
Max at Mirabeau is located in the Mirabeau Park Hotel, and has tons of free parking. (Hey, it just occurred to me – I DROVE, so why was she so freaked about shelling out cash for parking?) Anyhow, the recipe in The Book was Peanut Butter Pie, featuring a peanut butter brittle base and a chocolate truffle top. I was wondering how small of a salad I could order and consume to constitute having “eaten dinner” so that I could go straight to the pie, when I realized that I am an adult, and if I want pie for dinner, so be it. I do adore all things peanut butter.
I am going to be honest with you – I didn’t have high hopes for Max overall. It is, after all, a hotel restaurant. I’ve never had much luck with those, having been subjected to the typical “well, you are staying here, so we’ll offer you some average food, it’s not like you are in the mood to leave the building anyway and hassle with driving around town” hotel restaurant. Had the place not been in The Book, I don’t think I would have ever stopped there. Well, guess what, dearest reader. My assumptions were mistaken. It was great.
The décor had a semi-noir, semi-funky feel to it, without being too precious. The bar was open to the rest of the restaurant, freeing it from the usual “dungeon” feeling you get when going into a bar that’s part of a hotel. Once we were seated, I talked to the manager on duty about our little project. She had never heard of The Book, and made a point of writing the name down.
I decided on the Portabello & Mozzarella on Ciabatta with jicama-apple slaw. If you are looking for a go-to sandwich for lunch or a light dinner, I would say – this is it. The portabello was well-prepared, not grilled to the point of mushroom death. But let me tell you the little gem of this entire excursion – THE JICAMA-APPLE SLAW. Jicama, for those of you who haven’t actually experienced it, has the consistency of raw potato, and to me it tastes like crunchy water. By itself, jicama is not an impressive vegetable, but pairs nicely with a great many things. In this case, Granny Smith apples. The expected crunch from the jicama, followed by the unexpected jolt of tartness from the fresh apples, was over the top. As much as I enjoyed the sandwich, the slaw was the star. A very attentive manager came over to check on us, and I remarked how out of bounds the slaw was. She smiled and nodded, obviously having heard this comment repeated over and over during the course of her week.
I wish, dearest reader, that I could tell you more about my daughter’s meal. I put herculean effort into wheedling a review out of her. Here’s what I got:
Kat: Brandy, how is your sandwich?
Brandy: It’s good.
Kat: How about the grilled asparagus?
Brandy: Yeah, that’s good.
Kat: I really like asparagus. It’s easy to overcook, so when it’s done right, it’s wonderful.
Kat: So how about your fries?
Brandy: They’re good.
Are you feeling my pain? Suffice it to say, the crab and asparagus melt was “good”. That’s all you are getting, dearest reader.
My daughter paid the check, like the big girl she is, and we departed. I was a little wistful that I missed out on peanut butter pie; but, as I drifted off to sleep that night, my dreams were filled with visions of jicama-apple slaw, and I woke up to see all was well with the world.