This week - Feb 2nd-9th - is the Ashland Chamber of Commerce Restaurant Preview Week, a pre-Shakespeare-season chance to reacquaint ourselves with our favourite eateries, and familiarize ourselves with a few newbies. On a soggy, blustery night here in A-town, there are few annual rituals so marvelously cozy.
Last night we converged upon a perennial fav, Alchemy at the Winchester Inn (35 S. Second St.), to fill our souls with offerings from Chef Billy Buscher's seasonal menu. We picked the Restaurant Week menu, while Chris ordered ala carte. Starters of Foie Gras Mousse (with accouterments of Whiskey Orange Marmalade and Fig Vermouth Reduction and those decadent butter-crisped baguette slices) and a dreamy crab cake were quickly laid to rest (we didn't even get a photo of the Foie as someone who shall remain unnamed - Chris! - bolted into it the second it hit the table); crunchy endive filled with roasted beets, Stilton, pumpkin seeds and a tarragon vinaigrette created the perfect segway to a gorgeous family-recipe borscht, and by the time our Cioppino and Sous Vide Filet Mignon arrived we were already giving each other the 'what have we done?' look. Yeah, like that stopped us from indulging in the Chocolate Truffle Tart (with rosemary ice creme!) for afters. ;-)
We already have reservations at Smithfields for Monday night with John and Steve, but would like to try one or two other places over the weekend. Participating are Larks, Omars, Sesame, Pasta Piatti, Brothers, Standing Stone, the Black Sheep, Liquid Assets, El Paraiso, Peerless, Salame, Taj, Smithfields, and newcomers Dragon GonFu Tea House and Eleven.
Other events, including a not-to-be-missed workshop presented by the Spice & Tea Exchange, will take place all week - go to the Ashland Chamber website for a complete list.