3.04.2009

Date Night at Lattitude, West Springfield

Last Friday, Chris and I enjoyed a nice date at a restaurant recommended by Joanne, Lattitude in West Springfield, MA. The chef used to work for the Max Restaurant Group, and since we have only had good experiences at the Max restaurants, we were eager to give Chef Jeffrey Daigneau's "scratch menu" concept a try.

We were seated in our own little private room, painted deep red and with a gorgeous brass inlay in the hardwood floor. The server was friendly, attentive and welcoming, explaining that the chef changes the menu daily to reflect the freshest seasonal ingredients available, and that everything is made from scratch. We were excited to say the least.

Onion-flavored bread with a great crunchy crust arrived with our wine. The wine itself, chosen by us but given a big nod by the server, was one we'll absolutely be on the lookout for - a garnet-colored claret from Steltzer Vineyards in the Stag's Leap District of Napa Valley. Both the bread and wine foretold great things.

I started with what turned out to be the best salad I've ever eaten. I'm not a huge salad lover, but in the interest of New Year's resolutions and all that, I've tried to become one, and this salad put me several steps closer. The base was a mix of organic greens that were described on the menu as "hand-clipped," slivers of apple for sweetness and tang, bourbon-spiced pecans for spice and crunch, all tossed in an amazingly luscious ice-wine vinaigrette and served with a baguette that was slathered in creamy warmed goat cheese. I forced several tastes upon Chris who was trying to enjoy his half-dozen raw "Island Creek" oysters from Duxbury that he pronounced so "fantastic" that he almost ordered another six.

Chris went with the entree of "Grilled Maryland Striped Bass Puttanesca" - a nicely browned and generously portioned piece of fish served with olives, capers, anchovy, and tomato over egg fettuccini pasta. He practically inhaled it and loved every bite. I also went with a fish dish, the "True” San Francisco Cioppino of shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, and pieces of a light white fish swimming in a tomato seafood broth. The cioppino was served in a tagine-shaped bowl and lid, with the upended lid serving as a receptacle for discarded shells. Although I found the shrimp to be a bit overcooked, the flavor of the broth made up for that tiny error. I too practically inhaled it and loved every bite.

We split a dessert of berry cobbler that was good but not to-die-for, and I ended my meal with "Glen's Famous 50/50" - a concotion of equal parts Grand Marnier and Navan invented by the infamous Glen who tends the bar at Max's Tavern in Springfield. It's a simple drink but oh so soothing and delicious.

Chef Daigneau and his team impressed us on every level - the ambience, service, food and value for the dollar - all were outstanding. The "scratch concept" is one we admire and hope to see more of. We will undoubtedly return to Lattitude to experience it again.
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1 comment:

JK said...

That sounds even better than our text messaging suggested!