My visit to Stella

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strikingtwice's picture
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My visit to Stella

To be clear, this post is not to blow smoke up anyone's nether region, but a completely honest account of my visit to Stella. I'll also give you the summary now, because I feel like writing a little bit tonight. Stella is now the best meal/dining experience I've ever or my wife has ever had in our lives. If you are within a 3000 mile radius of North Lake Tahoe, you should go. Those outside of that distance, you should also go.


Now, the rest, with the blow by blow.

http://www.dropbox.com/sh/9v60cfxhnn1mer8/VW9g74iy9y


That gallery will link to the pictures I took tonight. I missed a couple of the intermezzi but i think only two. There was a halibut ceviche tapa and a watermelon and green apple gazpacho. They were excellent.


One of the coolest vibes of the whole night was just the pleasant atmosphere, and the notion that everyone that was there was happy to be there, cooks and servers alike. My wife actually pointed this out, and she's never even worked in a restaurant, yet still picked up on it. For any of us that have spent any amount of time in a restaurant, you know the dead weight, because it slows down your kitchen, or in my case when i was a server/bartender, will not run your food despite your own ball busting to run theirs. It just did not have the negative kitchen vs. wait staff environment found in so many restaurants. Although Roger was our server (he was great), I think we talked to almost every other person working that night at some point, even if just for small talk. The place is beautiful, really cool outdoor seating, though we sat inside. That's all I'll say about the dining experience. It was top notch, better service than I've ever experienced, yet not haughty or stuffy in the least bit.


Now, what I presume you all want to hear about...the food was impeccable. The bread that came out first was insane. As those of you who regularly read the blog know, it is all baked in house. You'll see the bread in one of the pics, one is just a regular sourdough loaf, the other is a fennel seed loaf. They were served with butter with smoked sea salt.


There are two ways to experience the menu. You can order a la carte, or what we did, which is a 4 course fixed price sampler, with the option of a wine pairing. The pictures are titled, and you can download the menu to check out more of the details past the titles. The wine pairings that were set up were so spot on, and there was not a single wine that was subpar. Since I can go on for hours about each dish, I have to say that the reconstructed chicken thigh floored me. It was like nothing I've ever eaten before. Also, the Cinnamon Quail was killer. For dessert, I got the bruleed banana split. Bananas are one of my favorite foods of all time, and it saddens me that my wife hates them - It looked so good, even she had to try it, and liked it! If you've read the recipe for the chocolate truffles, they come out as a finish with the check. They are every bit as amazing as you'd imagine.


Thanks to all of the Stella staff for one of the most memorable nights we've ever had, and certainly the most memorable of our trip to Tahoe. Feel free to post with any other questions, I'll be glad to answer them.

 

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Dave

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Dave,

 

Number 1: I'm terribly jealous.

Number 2: This meal looks absolutely over the top.

 

Three questions for you:

 

In the photo that looks like it had been the lettuce wrapped Asian beef, was the lettuce wrap then wrapped again in sliced cucumber?) No fair almost forgetting to take a photo after most of it was gone smiley)

In the same photo, what was on the other plate?  The halibut ceviche?

With four incredible desserts, how could you only pick two?

 

I hope you and your wife shared.....

 

I'm booking my flight now.

 

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Elliot

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Haha, it's funny you mention that. When that course came out we both went wild and then I was like crap! I have to take a pic still. The other dish was the heirloom tomato and mozzarella with the dehydrated olive oil. As far as the desserts the choice was almost easy. I gravitate toward anything with banana, and my wife is big onberries. Neither of us is a chocolate fanatic, so the flourless chic cake was almost easy to say no to. The cheesecake actually was not on the menu last night. So we really "only" had the three choices! Honestly, Tahoe is a lot of fun, you won't be strapped for things to do in any season. Cedar house looked nice but was a little farther from the lake then I would have preferred. We drove an hour from south lake Tahoe and trust me, more than worth the drive.
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@ Dave,

 

Nice photos. It was a pleasure having you and your wife in for dinner.

 

@ Elliot,

 

The lettuce wrap is held together with a thin strip of sliced cucumber that is slightly pickled. We did drop the cheesecake from the menu because I'm currently working on replacing it with a French Cheese Course.

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I am also incredibly jealous, looks like you had an amazing time!

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Gorgeous! Wish I could go there. Kind of costly to get a round-trip, international flight and a hotel just to go somewhere for a meal, though. LOL!

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Hahaha I don't know labs, you say that, but you've never had the reconstructed chicken thigh! Seriously though, Tahoe is a very fun area, north or south.
Wisconsin Limey

Looks fantastic!

 

What a bargain esp w/wine pairings!

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Limes, it really was. The pricing for the menu is very good but the reconstructed chicken thigh…I would have paid double for.
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...and I LOVE chicken thighs!

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  This looks like a memorable meal.  And like the others, I am also jealous!  So, tell us about these thighs!  Please!

 

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strikingtwice's picture
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Well they were great, but as far as technique? I guess Start by watching the new deboning video, but he puts it back together with the fat and lightly breads it i think. Just a crazy good texture and of course taste. Drizzled with shallot au jus. Just awesome
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Droolcheeky

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@Nina,

 

We debone the chicken leg and thigh as demonstrated in the video. We then make a 1:4 slurry using Activa GS and water by combining then together in a blender. The air incorporated into the mix during the blending process is removed by running it through a few cycles in our chamber vacuum sealer (no air in slurry mix is an important part to getting a tight bond).

 

We then brush the inside flesh of two deboned chicken legs and thighs with our Activa GS slurry, stick them together skin side out, and wrap in plastic wrap, taking care to form the thighs into a tight, square shape.

 

The thighs are then vacuum packed and cooked sous vide at 60C for 4 hours and then chilled in an ice bath. The thighs are cut in half for a regular entree order (basically one thigh per entree) or into quarters for a tasting order. On the pickup, we'll dust both sides of the thigh in rice flour and pan roast until crispy and warmed through.

 

The sauce and plate up are pretty much the same thing as demonstrated in the sous vide chicken breast video, only we're using the "reconstructed thighs" which I find to be far superior.

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I'm SO jealous! It sounds like a wonderful experience. Sarah and I have some friends in Reno, perhaps we should plan a trip sometime!
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