Thursday, August 6, 2015

Silvercreek Urbana Wine Dine Experience

Silvercreek Urbana Wine Dine Experience

Traveling cross-state we stopped enroute in Champaign/Urbana for a fine dining experience at Silvercreek Restaurant. Their website speaks to their Silvercreek Restaurant 'modern American cuisine' - 'quality interpretations of classic dishes using only the freshest ingredients from local farmers, or right from our own garden'. Their on-line menu featured many enticing selections, so we planned our route accordingly and called for reservations.

The Silvercreek website has only a terse mention of 200 wines on offer but no details so we took a chance on committing to the experience. Readers of this blog know that wine is a major determinant of our dining experience so imagine our delight when we arrived, settled in and were presented with an award worthy extensive wine list. It offers a respectable selection by region, varietal and includes a nice selection of WBTG - wine-by-the-glass, as well as a couple half bottles. Several of our favorite and reliable standby wines were available such as Napa Valley staples Robert Craig, Caymus, Silver Oak, and Seavey. But there was also a selection of French and other regions represented as well. Prices were a bit steep at two times retail which we would consider big city or Chicago prices.

I ordered the roasted duck with balsamic cherry jam, wild mushroom risotto, baby kale and arugula salad, while Linda ordered the Crispy Potato-Crusted Michigan Whitefish with carrots, grilled asparagus, pancetta, wild mushrooms and citrus cream. The offer of half bottles provided the perfect opportunity to select a quality red wine pairing for my entree, while  Linda could get a well matched white pairing for her fish. While convenient and accommodating for casual sipping, WBTG seldom offer premium or more sophisticated selections for a wine-dine pairing.

When asked how things were by the server, I admonished him that the wine was too warm, and the food too cool. The wine was room temperature which detracts from the enjoyment and discrimination of fruits. The food was warm, not hot, which in retrospect on viewing the pictures may be due to the fact they combined cool salad on the same plate as the hot entree, a practice I would avoid for just this reason.

I then ordered the multi-layered chocolate desert - dark chocolate over chocolate mousse over chocolate cake. This also was a great accompaniment to the Chateauneuf-du-Pape we orderd.

While delicious and a great pairing, it wasn't as moist or fresh as it could be, and begged to be served with au-lait or coffee, which inexplicably and regretably always seems to be served as a follow on course!

Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010

As noted above, ordered from 375ml half bottle. I wrote the other day about the imperative of keeping Zinfandel in the cellar for the occasional pairing with BBQ. Another such collection note is to keep Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CDP) for game dishes such as duck, another natural perfect pairing. Duck and CDP are one of my favorite such pairings - the complexity and boldness and forward fruits of CDP with the bold forward flavors of duck and the bright expressive compote accompaniment.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape complexity comes from the fact that it is typically a blend of several grape varietals, as many as thirteen are sanctioned by the Appellation tenants, with bold fruit forward Syrah being one of the more predominant. This Chateauneuf cuvée represents classic terroir and representation from a strong vintage. This is a blend of Grenache (70%) and the rest of equal part Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault.

Dark purple colored, medium full bodied, complex but nicely balanced dark berry and black cherry fruits predominate with a layer of a mix of tones of black olive tapenade, garrigue, tree bark, spice, floral, hints of leather, anise and pepper with nice balance and smooth approachable tannins on the slightly acidic finish. 

RM 89 points.

So what is garrigue? According to Dr Vinny of Wine Spectator - "Garrigue refers to the low-growing vegetation on the limestone hills of the Mediterranean coast, not the limestone itself. There are a bunch of bushy, fragrant plants that grow wild there, such as juniper, thyme, rosemary and lavender, and garrigue refers to the sum of them. Think herbes de Provence, or a mix of fresh minty-herbal notes with more pungent, floral fragrances." And of course Provence is the doorway to the Rhone River Valley of which Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the standard bearer premier wine region and style of the southern Rhone.

Linda's white fish was nicely prepared and tasty. We ordered the Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc by the glass which complemented nicely.

For desert Linda order the trio of creme-brulee - one of rigorous bold blueberry, one of pronounced orange peel, and one of chocolate. Had we known or internalized the ramekin portion size we would have shared. Regretably, the chocolate selection came with canned spray on creme rather than creme fraiche. Nevertheless they were tasty.

Overall, Silvercreek offered a trendy stylish building setting in the rustic historic building with open rafters, high ceilings, natural oak, and airy well lit window seating. The staff were students, who are still learning the trade and getting settled into the routine but were earnest, sincere and attentive. The overall food and wine experience was very pleasant and good quality, although if they're going to ask big city prices, they need to be slightly more attentive to the details. I suspect that as they get into the school season, they'll catch their stride. We look forward to visiting again.