Visa Signature, along with the United Airlines Mileage Plus program, recently held a unique event at AQ where cardholders were offered an excellent all-inclusive dinner and wine pairing in exchange for mileage. Since AQ is one of the places we visit regularly, we jumped at the opportunity to participate. The featured winery was Kelly and Young from Alexander Valley.
As noted in our previous posts, AQ (As Quoted) should be visited at least once a quarter. They take the meaning of seasonal to the next level – not only does the menu change, the entire restaurant is transformed. Upon arrival we were greeted with a new decor to reflect the Autumn season. Bare tree limbs and copper bar counters now decorate the restaurant:
The event started in the basement wine room with hors d’oeuvres of gougère bites and red beet tartare, and a pouring of their 2011 Kathleen Rosé:
Paired with Sauvignon Blanc, the first course was Beet-Cured White Tuna (albacore) that included apple slices and horseradish cream. The tart apple and the horseradish flavors worked well with the tuna crudo:
The next course was Agnolotti of Robiola cheese served with chanterelle mushrooms, watercress purée and bacon bits. Paired with Nuit de Young, a dark rosé of Merlot and Malbec, this dish better be added to their Autumn menu:
Chef Mark Lieberman and his entire staff moved rapidly as if they were expertly choreographed in putting all of the coursed plates together:
The Sturgeon course was served with with juniper, young leeks, basil buds and a sauce made with elderberry juice. Surprisingly, it was paired with a Zinfandel, which magically worked because of the berry juice:
While everyone was concentrating on eating the current course, the kitchen was busily preparing the next course. The beef strip loins were roasted and resting while we were eating the sturgeon course:
Chef Alex rapidly sliced the strip loins into perfect individual tasting portions:
The rare and tender strip loin filets were served on top of spelt and cocoa nibs. It came with a crunchy cooked carrot and prunes that paired well with the Malbec wine:
Between courses, winery owners Jim Young and Kathleen Kelly provided the attendees with insight into their winemaking process. It was a great introduction to an unfamiliar winery:
Dessert featured roasted figs with walnuts accompanied with a very light yet satisfying mousse and cream:
As if the dinner itself wasn’t enough, every attendee was given a goodie bag that contained signed menus and a bottle of Kelly and Young Sauvignon Blanc to take home:
Chef Lieberman explained that the menu was created long before the Autumn menu was set. The City was in the midst of a later-than-usual “Indian Summer,” so it was appropriate that the menu straddled summer and fall. We will definitely return for their Autumn menu.
As a side note, congratulations to AQ for being named as one of Esquire Magazine’s Best New Restaurant of the Year in 2012 (along with SF’s State Bird Provisions) – this award is well deserved.