I’m not sure why I planned an L.A. macaroni and cheese tour when all the mac I’ve had lately has been up in the Bay Area. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. For Christmas Eve dinner, Tom and I went to Michael Mina’s Arcadia, a self-proclaimed steakhouse in the Marriott in downtown San Jose. While Alexander’s is still definitely my South Bay favorite, Arcadia is kind of as fine dining as one can get without having to go up to San Francisco, where Michael Mina has his namesake restaurant, um, Michael Mina. For the price, I still think Alexander’s is better, but Alexander’s is also a dining experience you have to prepare for. Arcadia was a really enjoyable experience, but I am much less likely to go balls-out crazy on the menu the way we did at Alexander’s.
That being said, I was at first extremely disappointed when I realized Arcadia had a limited prix fixe menu that night rather than their normal menu. Tom put up with my poutiness as he asked the waiter if they could still prepare a side of truffled mac & cheese and foie gras accompaniment for the steak we ended up getting. The waiter checked and said they could, I was eternally grateful as those two extra dishes really made the meal. We split the three-course fixed menu and added a bottle of wine (sadly, no Blackboard Eats deals for San Jose!). Our waiter was pretty awesome because he split the dishes for us and even added extra ‘sides’ so that both of us would get the same amount of food. Our dishes were a burrata, beet, and balsamic appetizer; a rib-eye cooked perfectly medium rare (deliciously crisp on the outside and bright red in the middle) with a bordelaise sauce and cheesy scalloped potatoes; and a pumpkin cheesecake with gingerbread crust and a scoop of ice cream, and our waiter threw in an extra dessert, which was a classic bread pudding with caramel and ice cream. I’m not much of a dessert person, but the thought was greatly appreciated.
Yonder at the top of this [cell phone] photo is the foie gras, which was classically prepared and well seared. I really can’t get enough and almost contemplated buying a huge pack of frozen foie gras from the Milk Pail Market this week ($100!). The foie gras was served on top of half a slice of toast which reminded me of the most buttery Texas toast infused with the juices and essence of foie gras.
The mac and cheese pictured first was a great surprise. Small elbow macaroni reminiscent of the Blue Box type with a fantastic bread topping and small florets of broccoli… it looked very boring at first, but the cheese sauce is packed with delicious cheesy flavor, not overly creamy like the lobster mac from Old Port Lobster Shack, but a true baked macaroni and cheese consistency. The truffle flavor worked well with the sharp cheeses they used and it was just very well made in its simplicity. It was also a pretty large portion and we didn’t even eat half of it, just took the rest home. It was good both leftover cold and leftover reheated.