Tablas Creek at Thee Bungalow

Wednesday we went to Thee Bungalow for their Tablas Creek wine dinner. We had gone to their Tobin James wine dinner before, and of course our girls night for the anniversary menu. I like Thee Bungalow. I’ve said it, I mean it, and I really don’t get why I never hear of other people saying they like it. Are you eating food that I’m not ordering? Are you getting service from some bad server who is hidden when I go? Do you just shun it based on its Cohn ownership alone? Do you know something you’re not telling me??

Okay, sure, the fact that they’ve added $2 valet parking is kind of lame. And, yes, it’s silly that their overflow valet parking is the softball field parking lot that we park at and walk the whole 50 feet to the front door.

I like wine dinners, but I don’t like paying $80 for 3 courses and a passed appetizer bite. That’s too expensive, people! Thee Bungalow has wine dinners for $60 with a passed appetizer, 3 courses, and dessert. The last time we were there the passed appetizer was a house made cracker/flatbread with a crab or lobster or something in a cheesy sauce. It was so good! And we got, like, 3 each!

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This was the passed appetizer bite. It was like half a shrimp on top of edamame and cucumber. I have to say, this was my least favorite bite, although the spoon is really cute. I did taste the orange zest on the shrimp and the edamame were nice and crisp, but the ginger vinaigrette didn’t really come through. And we only got one. Still, the Esprit Blanc that it was served with was very nice and I had 2 glasses. I felt silly taking pictures, especially when I had to turn on the flash, but I still did it, just for you.

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We moved on to the bacon, mushroom, and cheese ravioli in a clam infused butter sauce. This was the best dish ever. The pasta had the perfect chew to it, the bacon and cheese stuffing wasn’t too smoky or salty, the mushrooms were meaty, and the butter sauce was so good. So good! Meaty bits of clams with the mushrooms and just a rounded velvety sauce that you could lick from the plate. Which is kind of what we did, but we used bread so as to be civilized!

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Oh, the Roussanne that they served with this was like a lighter Chardonnay. It was T’s favorite wine of the night and it cut perfectly through the rich sauce.

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Then came the rack of lamb on a bed of braised lamb shank and white bean cassoulet. I love rack of lamb, but the braised shank and white bean was just so comforting and tasty. I preferred it to the rack of lamb. But I did eat it all, plus the extra piece of lamb that T didn’t want. We drank the Esprit Rouge with this and it actually wasn’t too bold for the lamb. A little dry, but a bold red that was pretty jammy. It was right about here, too, that I started getting tipsy. And a little full.

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But not too full to scarf down some Kobe skirt steak on arugula before I realized I didn’t take a picture. Believe me, the steak looked much prettier before I started pulling pieces off. It was meltingly tender and you could taste the happy cow fat that had been lovingly massaged into the beef. Now, I don’t know if this was real Kobe or the Americanized Wagyu, but it was probably the best example of Kobe beef that I’ve ever had. Sometimes I’ll taste it and think regular beef is just as good, but this? This was perfect. Medium rare and not chewy at all. The arugula was a little bitter, but I think that’s how arugula is, which isn’t great because we just got a big bunch in our CSA this week. The Cotes de Tablas they served with this was very bold and dry, a little tart, but it actually had a smooth finish. I think. I was getting to the point where I couldn’t taste wine any more, I was so full and so kind-of-drunk.

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For dessert, I ate a piece of the cheese before taking a picture. But then I didn’t want to take a picture because the chef was standing right behind us. So, of course, when he comes to our table to make sure we were enjoying everything, T asked if he would mind posing with his dish for a picture! Ah well, Chef Niles is a nice guy and he makes good food and he’s pretty easy on the eyes, too. He is holding a plate that contains some grapes (sweet and crisp), 2 slices of apple (meh), 2 slices of sage infused derby cheese (because I had eaten the 3rd piece already), and 3 small chocolate truffles sitting on minty sugar sauce. Don’t ask about the Mourvedre we were drinking because I don’t even remember. It’s a dry wine, not like a port, not sweet. Okay, the fruit? Good. Standard. The truffles? Better than those buttery ones from Trader Joe’s! Melty and perfectly balanced in sweetness, not too dark chocolate truffley, you know? The mint sauce? Mmm… like minty crack sauce! You could taste the herbalness of the mint leaves, which infused the sugar sauce, and then it just melted away and you were left missing it and wishing you had more. But the cheese! I looked at the green striped cheese and thought it would just be cheese. Why would I want sage in my cheese? Well, I don’t know, but that cheese was the best thing on that plate. Considering I will do nearly anything for chocolate and/or sweet desserts, that’s saying a lot. It’s such a different flavor than dried ground sage. It’s fresh. It taste green, but not grassy. It gave the cheese this entirely new dimension, because derby cheese, I think, isn’t all that impressive usually. So, does anyone know where to buy this sage derby cheese?? Because I was too drunk to even ask.

The portions of food are so large, to me. Add some veggies and a potato and you could eat any of those courses and a large entree. I would have eaten a pot of those ravioli, personally. All this for $60 plus at least 5 glasses of wine (these are not 1 oz tastes they’re pouring!) Why would I pay $80-100 for a wine dinner when I can get all this for so much less?

Also, their anniversary dinner goes through the end of August. Half a crisp roasted duck for $12.95. Their other popular dishes are practically half off. We’re going back next week. Are you?

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4 responses to “Tablas Creek at Thee Bungalow

  1. uh… hello! Can I just get HIM on a plate for dessert??? 🙂

  2. I know! No wonder all the little old ladies get so excited to see him as he walks through the restaurant greeting everyone. He also comes across pretty humble. We told him that we attended his Tobin James wine dinner and it was our very first and he said that he was so nervous because he had only been working there for a few weeks and he just hoped it all came out well. Now I’m glad I was forced to take a picture!

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  4. Pingback: Local “Next Iron Chef” « Three Dog Kitchen

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