Please The Palate Pick of the Week: To-Go Tasting Menu from Vespertine and Alinea via TockLA

If there is one thing that I have missed this past year during “shelter-in-place”, it is splurging on a tasting menu. When restaurants were open, I found myself enjoying a decadent tasting menu once a month, on average. But over the last nine months, while I have enjoyed ordering from restaurants across the city, I had not had a tasting menu…until this week. Vespertine Restaurant in Culver City collaborated with Alinea in Chicago for the month of December and the tasting menu is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

It must have been kismet. For months, I have tried to order from Vespertine via TockLA but was always relegated to the waitlist. But last week, I went on line and there was one reservation available for Sunday night, so I grabbed it. At 6pm, I arrived at Vespertine where I was greeted at my car and asked for my name. I then parked my car and in less than 5 minutes, a masked server approached my car with two large bags. They were placed in my car and I drove off to a park to meet a friend.

Each course was packed in a labeled box. There was a card included with a QR code. I scanned the code and the menu came up with descriptions and instructions for each dish. I was immensely impressed by the presentation. As we opened each box, we pulled out small containers with the dish. Aside from the plastic containers, the dishes each looked like they had just come from the kitchen.

Pear, Celery Leaf & Branch, Curry

Oyster Cream, Lychee, Horseradish, Chervil

Duck, Pumpkin, Banana, Thai Aromatics

Halibut, Shellfish Custard, Hyacinth Vapor

Beef, Elements of Root Beer

Idiazabel, Maple, Smoked Salt

Bacon, Butterscotch, Apple, Thyme

Chocolate, Avocado, Lime, Licorice

I had grabbed two bottles of wine to enjoy with dinner but I did not know the menu in advance. The Trimbach Riesling Reserve, a dry Riesling from Alsace was a perfect pairing the most of the menu. And the Travaglini 2016 Gattinara from Piemonte, Italy was ideal for the meat coarse. The wine pairings were a success!

Each bite, each dish, was delectable. The flavors, textures and temperatures were all spot-on and consistent. I would never have thought that a restaurant could serve an 8-course tasting menu to-go but Vespertine, in collaboration with Alinea, did just that and that is why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week.