I’ll be honest. It was the tasting menu that drew me to Bouquet. I know, I know…cliche foodie move. Since the phenomenon really caught on, or at least became affordable, I have been a sucker for those mini plates, and I’ve become an expert in listening intently to the staff as they list how each dish was delicately created and plated. I often think of Pete Wells’ NYT piece from 2012 when I opt for a tasting menu- “a tasting menu can yield a succession of delights that a shorter meal could never contain.” What is better than one expertly made dish? 4-23 dishes in an exact order with wines to match of course!
At Bouquet, they do what every restaurant should do- work seasonally. Since our Carriage House Farm visit, I have become more conscious of what foods are in season, I’m weary of food miles, and how we, and chefs, should honour each product. Sure apples are at their best right now, but let’s not hide them- let them shine and be the focus of your dish! And that, dear readers, is exactly what Bouquet did. And with finesse.
Their September Tasting Menu was as follows:
carrots / greens / ginger / honey / melon
A simple dish that let the carrots be front and centre thanks to skillfully sous vide-ing the vegetable so that it was intensely carroty, yet retained that crunch that only carrots have. A fiery ginger, melon, and honey reduction amplified the peppery kick from the greens, and the light, sweet melon came through enough at the end to cool things down. I doubt I’ll ever have such a carroty carrot again in my life.
spaghetti / heirloom tomato / olive oil
House made pasta in a simple tomato sauce. Nothing too special about that. Oh how wrong you are. The pasta was perfectly al dente, and almost whole meal in taste. The fried garlic packed such intense flavour into such small chips, that complemented the sweetness of the sauce. The olive oil was perhaps a tad too rich, but when in Rome…
wild shrimp / fried grits / tomatillo / garlic queso / chili oil
The stand out dish for me- both taste and presentation wise. The tomatillos lifted the dish with their bursts of freshness, but were subtle enough in flavour to allow the huge, beefy, succulent shrimps to be the star of the course. The fried grits were a genius feature: packed with creamy cheesy goodness and matching beautifully with the chili oil. The garlic queso was almost aioli like in texture and flavour, but there was a heat and creaminess to it that was just heavenly. I just wish I had the guts to ask for more of it.
corn ice cream / cardamom poke cake / smoked padron
Sweet corn ice cream should have been a novelty, a joke. I consider all savoury ice creams as a bit naff. But it worked so well! A huge scoop of this earthy ice cream sat proud on top of a dense, somewhat chewy cake slice, peppered with the warmth and richness that only comes from cardamom. The candied padron pieces were…interesting. Hot and sweet, but too sharp for me I’m afraid.
Bouquet is teasing us with snaps of their October tasting menu already, and I for one cannot wait to see what genius creations are coming. Aside from their tasting menu, every other dish on offer sounded fantastic- even the more avant garde choice of barracuda that our server reveled in telling us all about. Staff were attentive, jovial, and really really lovely- anyone that can let us eat in peace, but high five us when we accurately guess that the guy stuck in traffic next to use was playing Cradle of Filth, is alright by me.
Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar
519 Main St., Covington, KY 41011
Mon – Thu: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 5:00 pm – 1:00 am