One of the nice things about getting older is that you no longer feel obligated to party hard on New Year’s Eve, nor do you have the vague feeling that something’s wrong with you if you sleep through the transition from old year to new. It’s still nice to celebrate the start of a brand new year, though. This year we stayed close to home to do it.
The special New Year’s Eve dinner at Culpepper’s Steakhouse turned out to be just the right solution. At $65 per person for a four course meal, the menu was varied enough so that we both were able to get something we really liked.
Everyone started out with the same Amuse Bouche (the French term for a small, bite sized morsel that comes before the appetizer; the literal meaning is "amuse the mouth"). This was a single square of ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and proscuitto in truffle oil. It was rich, but because it was so small, it wasn’t overpoweringly so. And it certainly did its job of making you eager for the "real" food.
There were four choices of appetizers. We both went with the lobster, bourbon and corn chowder with jalapeño cheddar cornbread croutons. It might sound like an unlikely combination of ingredients, but they all came together beautifully and whet the appetite even more.
There were eight different entrees offered. I was torn between the pan seared grouper with truffle risotto and smoked tomato broth and the seared diver scallops with sun dried tomato cous cous and vanilla corn sauce, but went with the scallops. They were cooked to perfection (although smaller than the gigantic ones that I had at Old Hickory during our anniversary stay at the Gaylord Texan) and the sauce was delicious.
Tom got the 22 oz. prime ribeye steak with Yukon "smashed" potatoes. Somehow he managed to finish the whole thing.
Then came dessert. All three choices sounded good: vanilla bean creme brulee with shortbread cookie, peach fried pie with Southern Comfort ice cream, and Chocolate Mousse cake – except that the cake included a Grand Marnier cinnamon anglaise. I have a dislike for cinnamon, but I love chocolate, so I asked if it was possible to get the cake without the glaze. Turns out it was, and I totally enjoyed it. Tom got the same thing, and he had extra glaze because they brought mine in a dish on the side and I gave it to him. A win-win situation for all concerned.
The portions were big enough to leave us feeling full (but not overly stuffed), the atmosphere was lively but not frantic, and we didn’t have to brave Dallas traffic to get back home way before the midnight hour. It was a nice, enjoyable, gentle way to say hello to 2008.