Shame, shame, shame on me. I’m embarrassed that it took me years to get around to a meal at Black Cat Bistro, embarrassed that it’s taken me weeks to post about the extraordinary multicourse tasting I finally experienced—long enough for the details to be lost in the haze of general appreciation for chef-owner Eric Skokan’s style, eclectic in scope yet laser-precise in execution, & the graciousness & intelligence of the floor staff. Among them was the young wine gun Dev; if it weren’t for the menu he handwrote for me, I’d be embarrassed about the number of delicacies I could no longer identify—which, granted, is partly Dev’s fault, given the copious amounts of N.V. René Geoffroy premier cru rosé & Castelfeder Lagrein Riserva 2006 he kept pouring.

What I’ll never forget, however, is the tiny, scrumptious slice of heirloom carrot-chèvre terrine peeking out there next to the salt-&-vinegar turnip chips on an appetizer sampler that also included white radish soup with black truffle & heritage pork head cheese in a dried-tomato shell.

It was followed by a sturgeon duo: 1st, creamed & pickled sturgeon on a buckwheat blini with chopped egg & winter herb purée,

& 2nd, roast sturgeon with black garbanzo beans and black garlic.

A pasta duo included nutmeg-tinged farro with chanterelles & cherry tomatoes

& another strikingly funky dish I won’t soon forget—farmer’s cheese gnocchi with grilled chicken livers & mustard.

Meat courses took the elegant form of chicken ballantine with a lentil fritter, apple chutney & raita

& celery crêpes stuffed with duck ragôut, accompanied by squash gratin & sumac jus.

Yet another unforgettable tidbit: the warm apple-thyme tisane that came with a simple green salad. You use the spoon to stir it up before sipping—so pure, so refreshing.

Finally, I’m embarrassed to admit that I snapped a pic neither of the cheese course—a pungent, cold pairing of crumbled gorgonzola with beet gratinée—nor the palate cleanser we received in lieu of the dessert we just couldn’t hack: Asian pear with grapefruit & bruléed figs.

From start to finish, the tasting was accomplished, suave, balletic (& I say that as someone who hates the use of dancing metaphors in food writing). This post doesn’t do it justice; may it, in all that it lacks, inspire you to strike forth to Black Cat & judge for yourself.

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