First I checked Open Table, and then I got the brilliant idea that I would try calling Tastebuds in New Hope, PA, where we spent our Valentine's Day last year, just to see if by chance they had room for two. Low and behold, today was our lucky day, and they had a cancelation, and room for us at 7:30PM.
It's actually hard to believe that it's been a year to the day since we have been to Tastebuds. We loved our meal here last Valentine's Day, and I am almost embarrassed that we haven't been back in the 365 days that followed. What a shame, and we definitely need to move Tastebuds up on our list.
We arrived in New Hope about 20 minutes early, and I found parking just up the block at the top of the hill. By the time we walked down, we were about 15 minutes early, and were greeted by the gentleman who was our server last year. Funny enough he remembered us, mentioned the fact that he remembered our blog, and even mentioned the fact that he saw us featured in the NY Times. What is there to say about that other than awesome, and what a great memory.
He seated us at a great 4 top in towards the rear of the first dining room when you come into the old house. The room is rustic, and dimly lit, with gorgeous orange lights hanging from the ceiling, that is composed of old exposed beams, and the underneath of the hardwood floors from the second floor. It really is a beautiful room, and very romantic.
We sat and I grabbed the Riedel XL's from the carrying case and a 2007 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast pinot noir, which was fitting for a variety of reasons. First, what is there not to love about pinot noir on Valentine's Day? The only thing that could be more fitting would be a little Champagne. Secondly, I need to order my 2009 Kosta Browne appellation wines tomorrow, so I figured it would be fun to check in on the 2007's for the first time! Needless to say, I am glad I did, and this was in a gorgeous place.
Our server came over and filled the wine glasses on our table with some sparkling water, which we asked for when given the choice as we perused the menus. One of the things that I love about Tastebuds is the fact that there is no "gouging" on Valentine's Day, and they have their regular menu. How can you not respect a place that doesn't try to take advantage of you on Valentine's Day? Gotta love it!
The other gentleman came over and was our server tonight. I can't remember his name for the life of me, but they are both great guys, attentive, friendly, and just downright great servers. But they represent Tastebuds, so they should be! We ordered our starters, enjoyed our wine, and just had a nice romantic evening.
Zelda ordered the Baby Spinach salad with endive, wonton strips, and a honey-ginger dressing. These were gorgeous leaves of spinach, and the honey-ginger dressing was light and elegant. If I remember correctly last year, they used and sourced fresh local lavender honey for one of the dishes we have, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was the same. The wontons had a really nice crisp to them, and overall, this salad was a winner.
I started with the steamed mussels in a curry-coconut milk broth with granny smith apples, ginger, and lemongrass. The mussels were cooked perfectly, and the flavors in the broth were very nice. The apple was prominent, and it added a succulent sweetness to it, and the broth was nice and creamy. This was the perfect starter also, and didn't fill me up, yet it held me over until our entrees came.
For entrees, Zelda had the Herb-Roasted French cut chicken breast with spinach, yogurt mashed potatoes, and a lemon pulp jus. This was a gorgeous, thick cut chicken breast that was juicy, and had great flavors. All of the elements of this dish complimented each other very well, and this too was a winner.
The piece de résistance tonight hands down was my filet of beef tenderloin, with an Ancho chili rub, under a bed of peppery green beans, that was sitting on top of whipped potatoes that were surrounded by a Cuban espresso sauce. This was hands down the best filet I have had in probably the last 3-5 years. In all honesty, I can't remember the last time I had such a delicious filet, with such a great, tender cut of meat, that was cooked to absolute perfection.
The inside of the filet was cooked as perfectly to medium as possible, and from the first slice into this with my knife, it was as tender as tender could be. This was actually fork tender, but being so thick, there is no way a fork could cut through it. If I could cook a steak this well, I would be in heaven, and would have no need to ever go out to dinner. The inside was steaming hot, juicy, and perfectly cooked! All I can say is WOW!
The spice from the Ancho chili rub was very nice, but not for the faint at heart. It definitely added some heat, but was not offensive (to me) in the least! It also did not overpower the great flavors from the grill, and from the meat in general. The whipped potatoes were smooth and creamy with great flavors, and the green beans had a peppery spice and great snap to them! Finally, the espresso sauce was nice as well, and added some good smoky flavors to the dish. All in all, this was amazing, and again, the best filet I've had in years!
I actually asked our server where they got their meat from, and he told me, but of course I didn't write it down, and can no longer remember. I do remember that they were located in Newark though, so if you are reading, feel free to shoot us the name again! ;-)
After dinner we were both happily satisfied, with no room in our stomachs for dessert, but as the trends seems to be as of late, we ordered dessert anyway, and went with the crème de caramel, which was almost like a flan, but made with cream opposed to milk. Both the texture and the flavor were great, and I am glad we ordered it.
At the end of the day, we had another great experience at Tastebuds, and I truly hope that it's not another year before we make it back! But I am going to put a meeting reminder on my calendar to call and get another Valentine's Day reservation for 2012! From the great service, to the great steak, to the romantic environment, to my beautiful companion, it was the picture perfect Valentine's Day meal! I hope that yours was as well! Cheers!
49 West Ferry Street
New Hope, PA