Fancy restaurants--ones where highly-trained chefs plate skimpy portions of food with tweezers and paint the dishes with vibrant sauces the way Jackson Pollock splashed acrylic on a canvas--are not our regular destinations. But the other night, we took our fourth anniversary as the reason to overindulge and dine at such a place. Paragary's was our choice.
The evening started with a glass of Cuffs and Buttons, a citrusy bourbon cocktail, that rapidly put me in a tipsy state. The risotto fritters soon arrived, and I gasped at the sight of those dainty golden balls, topped with thin slices of tallegio like cute little headscarves. Looks can sometimes be deceptive, but that wasn't the case. The fritters were quite addictive, thanks to their nice inner gooeyness and even nicer outer crunch. The balsamic sauce offset the richness with subtle acidity, but I wouldn't have minded if it'd been left out. Sauce or no sauce, I'd revere those fritters all the same.
Our entrees, as we anticipated, were smaller than the over indulgent plates you get at most restaurants. Mine resembled something a Top Chef contestant might make in pursuit of the honorable title and in hopes of avoiding Tom Colicchio's castigation. Perfectly braised short ribs with silky parsnip puree and a scattering of pickled root vegetables--doesn't that sound like an unwritten formula of modern fine dining? My man's main course was a bit more rustic: grilled halibut with roasted Brussels sprouts, winter squash, and brown butter vinaigrette. It seemed to be a healthy option and also tasted that way.
By dessert time, I had already graduated from tipsy to moderately drunk. Knowing it was our celebratory night, they put lit candles on our panna cotta and toffee pudding. Plus, a snapshot of us was taken; I tried my best to soberly smile. Between the two desserts, the white-chocolate panna cotta with macadamia crumble was more refined and well-executed, whereas the sticky toffee pudding with an artillery of sweet explosives (dates, dried fig, mascarpone cream and bourbon caramel) was more whimsical and daring. At last, the check came with our printed snapshot. I took a good look at it, said to the waitress, "Yep, that's my drunk face!" and she uttered this most jolly, most sonorous laugh I'd ever heard.