Thursday, September 1, 2011

Starfish Brasserie

My family just ate an amazing meal at the Starfish Brasserie in Bethlehem, PA. The occasion was my darling husband's birthday. It's a place we know well - but didn't realize how well we knew it until we had one of the tastiest, friendliest and comfortable fine dining experience we could have ever imagined with two 8 year olds in tow.

At the time of this writing, I only wish I could conjure detailed writing like a famous food critic - because I know what I write won't do the experience justice.

Our kids have been to many restaurants - but going to a fancy place like this usually takes a good amount of psychological prepping (or threatening) for good behavior. We tell them that not everyone else in the world is as charmed by them as we are - and others in the dining room don't need to be "entertained." Our server, Gary, knew us, so he was very attentive to make sure that we all had food served at the right time, and in the right sequence. We know pretty much what the kids would like, and what they'd be willing to try.

The kids know that this place has the BEST French fries Bethlehem, so Gary made sure to bring a huge plate of them to the table with our first appetizer, blackened catfish. Kris (chef and owner) then gave us a complimentary plate of white anchovies with caviar... zomg! amazingly fresh. Definitely NOT the kind I'm used to seeing slimed on a cheap pizza.  To our surprise, our son likes fresh anchovies. The texture of the caviar was a little "bumpy" but he liked the salty goodness. Our daughter wasn't as adventurous. She did try it - and contained her reaction enough not to cause a scene.

For the main courses, we knew to order only one meal to split with the kids (lobster crab and Macaroni and cheese). I ordered the pork loin, Steve ordered the lamb chops. I told Gary I would split the lobster and pork with the kids - asking him to give me plates to divide it at the table. Kris took the trouble to split them on the three plates in the kitchen. Each were beautifully plated; and the kids nearly licked their plates.

The freshly baked sourdough bread with a tomato infused olive oil for dipping was a big hit. And yes, my son did like that plate. - OK, he used his fingers, but still I hope the other diners weren't too grossed out by his enthusiasm for a good thing.

Dessert was creme brulée for me and Steve, and the kids chose the chocolate mousse. My son loved cracking the crusty sugar - and they both had a lesson in real vanilla. When my daughter saw the vanilla seeds at the bottom of the brulee, she remembered seeing the black dots in the home made ice cream we make. Again, the fingers came out to get all the good stuff.

Somewhere in the middle of the caviar, I had a hankering for some vodka. (I was thinking about a scene in the movie, "Benjamin Button" - or whatever the real title is - you know, the one with Brad Pitt and a lot of makeup?) So I ordered a chilled vodka straight up. What Louis the bartender sent to the table was a rather large martini glass full to the rim of Absolut. I was happy. Wait a minute - who's birthday was this again? We decided at that moment, to add our wedding anniversary to the celebration. We're used to combining family occasions.

All told, each dish was so delightfully prepared; we actually could taste the main ingredients. They weren't overwhelmed with seasoning or complications. The fresh fish and local produce was heavenly. I only wish I could eat there more often.

Kris is a very generous restauranteur. Bethlehem is lucky to have such a nice place to go for a spontaneous dinner. Louis is one the BEST bartenders around. And Gary is a most attentive server. We were so pleased with our meal and evening. It was a great night.

All the best to Starfish - and hope to eat there again, really soon.

#77 of 90in90 for #LUBlogTribe

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