Monday, December 26, 2011

Natural Celebratory Dinner

Natural Selection Sandwich Board

One dark December night we walked up to a neighborhood restaurant to celebrate belated and soon-to-be birthdays. With the overindulgent holidays upon us we were looking forward to an all vegetarian dinner at vegetarian/vegan restaurant Natural Selection. We were not disappointed, in fact we were so impressed that we plan to visit the restaurant each season to get our fill of expertly and innovatively prepared seasonal vegetables.

Natural Selection Chef Aaron Woo built his restaurant around "vegetables, fruit and grains served in a warm European-style setting, the menu combines both rustic and modern cooking techniques while highlighting the favors of France, Italy and Spain."

Natural Selection Restaurant

Natural Selection Window

The restaurant was festive, cozy and did have the warm European feel expressed on the website.

Natural Selection Decor

Natural Selection Cozy Dining Room

Natural Selection Cozy Atmosphere

We easily settled into Natural Selection's cozy dining room, ready to dig into the prix fix seasonal menu.

Natural Selection Dinner Menu

Natural Selection makes it easy with only 2 prix fix menus to choose from. Items can be ordered a la carte as well. We ordered a couple great cocktails and the 2 prix fix dinners in order to sample everything. Shortly after placing an order an amuse bouche of red pepper draped polenta bite arrived.

Natural Selection Amuse Bouche

Soon our first course arrived. A delicious sweet hubbard squash soup and roasted maitake mushrooms. The soup was your basic creamy squash soup, but punched up a notch with the addition of cubed chunky squash to add some texture to the soup. The maitake mushrooms were smokey, silky smooth and crunchy all at the same time; paired with creamy potatoes, the dish was the ultimate in earthy flavors.

Natural Selection Course 1

The next course was the salad course with a golden beet & endive salad and a brussel sprout & sunchoke salad. The beet salad was sweet from the beets and sliced figs, tart and bitter from the apples and endive greens. Crisp and bright. The brussel sprouts were shredded thin and matched the earthy flavors of the sunchokes. The grapefruit added a tart cold flavor to liven up the dish.

Natural Selection Course 2

The main entrees were a ceppo pasta with arugula (with pumpkin, apple, and brussel sprouts) and a lentil & potato stew (with delicata squash, romanesca, peppers and almonds. The pumpkin blended beautifully with the ceppo pasta, apple and brussel sprouts, a total standout. The beautifully presented lentil stew was very unstew like and completely delicious. The stew was served in and around a small cored delicata squash that was cooked perfectly and easy to cut into.

Natural Selection Course 3

The final and fourth course was the dessert course consisting of a fruit crumble and spiced pumpkin cake. Like the other 3 courses, the desserts were fantastic. Perfectly portioned and not too sweet, a great way to end our delicious vegetarian/vegan celebratory dinner.

Natural Selection Course 4

Natural Selection is definitely worthy of a celebratory dinner. Slow paced and laid-back our dinner service matched the deliberate nature of Natural Selection's food. We thoroughly enjoyed the timed meal perfect for a cozy celebration with friends. We entertained ourselved inbetween each meal with palate cleaners and watching the small open kitchen casually pump out each plate.

Natural Selection Open Kitchen

Even the bar area was tiny and efficient, doubling as the wait and credit card station.

Rolling Cart Wait Station and Bar

We really enjoyed everything about Natural Selection and can't wait to head back in the early spring to find out what they do with young asparagus and spring greens.

Best Seat in the House

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