Ninety Five Cordova – Casa Monica Catering

I had already fallen in love with the Casa Monica Hotel.  As for the restaurant- my hubby and I discovered 95 Cordova 2 years ago- our fave way to enjoy their menu is in the Cobalt Lounge, where live music creates ambiance every weekend.  I thought I knew Casa Monica and their dining scene.  But recently I was treated to a meal that displayed Chef Harlan and Chef Tim’s creativity in a whole new way!

We started in the gallery…

When I arrived at the Media Dinner, I was drawn to this incredible cheese display.  {Local bloggers don’t get paid much, but the perks can be sweet! Thanks for including me, Casa Monica!}  Casa Monica caters many local events and weddings- this evening was my first glimpse of their excellence in presentation, food and service.  The cheese assortment included traditional favorites and branched beyond the expected with artisan cheeses, honey and marcona almonds- a nice crunchy contrast to the creamy cheeses.

After a tour of Casa Monica Hotel, I was ecorted to 95 Cordova and the taste treats began…

Kessler Calamari was first.  No side of marinara here- this fresh calamari dish boasts hints of curry and is topped with fresh tomatoes, olives, coriander and cilantro.  Apparently Mr. Kessler loves this dish so much all the Kessler Collection restaurants serve Kessler Calamari!

Allen was our sommelier for the evening and his casual approach to pairing wine with foods was refreshing.  He chose a Ceretto Moscato di Asti to accompany the calamari- largely because he enjoys it!  I do appreciate the art of pairing foods with wine and learned about the topic during a recent III Forks Media Dinner; in contrast to a structured “educational” evening, Allen shared enough information about each pairing to show he was comfortable with both foods and wines served yet left us free to enjoy the meal.

The first course was seared duck breast with an incredible blackberry compote.  This blackberry reduction was a fantastic accompaniment to the duck- I loved the slight tang blackberries offer.  Potatoes were delish and the garnish of flavorful, tender corn shoots really set this dish apart to me!

Composed of what may be my favorite flavor combination in the world, the next course made me smile.  Pineapple Cucumber Salad with Cilantro was refreshing.  I adore pineapple and cilantro together!  Chef utilized microgreens to deliver the perfect amount of cilantro flavor with each tender bite.  To try this flavor combination in a dessert, head over to The Hyppo for a Pineapple Cilantro Popsicle!

Next, I was served filet medallions over whipped black beans and a roasted corn salsa.  This filet was incredible!  Tender, flavorful… I’ll be back for more filet!  Regarding this dish overall… I felt presentation was better than the flavor combination.  That being said, the kitchen prepared this specially to accomodate my dietary restriction {thanks, chef!} and I can imagine the coriander crusted sea scallops the other diners were served tasting delish alongside the beans and salsa.

At this point in the evening, I was getting full.  Even with carefully tasting instead of eating all I was served and spreading it over a very long night, I tried a lot of food!  So I didn’t expect to be very excited about the Osso Bucco.  I was wrong.  Turns out I love osso bucco!  If you’ve ever made it, you know this braised dish reflects a lot of love from the kitchen.  Hours of cooking time produce moist, comforting, fall-apart-tender goodness that you just have to love!  The accompanying roasted veggies and mashed sweet potatoes made me wish it was fall!

The chefs’ grande finale was  this plate of “tea and cookies”:

Carefully crafted earl grey panna cotta was accompanied by french macaroons- which are all the rage in St. Augustine now (I’ve since seen them in Bon Ami, Claude’s Chocolates and LuLi’s Cupcake shop).  They’re good, but they’re not that good people!  But the panna cotta was that good A 10 year tawny was served as the dessert wine- I really liked it!

For me, an evening enjoying two amazing chefs’ creativity is very close to an evening in heaven.  I appreciate how the dishes were composed to present one delightful whole {not just meat, starch, side but a composition}.  I’m very grateful to 95 Cordova for hosting such a delightful evening- I’ll be back for that Osso Bucco when the weather cools off!

95 Cordova at the Casa Monica Hotel
95 Cordova Street
(904) 810-6810

95 Cordova on Urbanspoon

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