Our opening event for 2005 was a happy reunion with Chef Rôtisseur Ron Wise at his new restaurant, Rondo’s. We have enjoyed Chef Wise’s creations for years at various locations but this was the first visit to his own place. This diamond in the rough has been making a great reputation for imaginative cuisine in the western part of our city and staking culinary claims in the “wild frontier” for adventurous eastsiders as well as nearby patrons.
Situated in a rambling historic neighborhood restaurant straddling the township line, Chef Wise and his wife Mona have put great effort into restoring warmth and relaxed ambiance. We entered to be presented with flutes of Egly-Ouriet Tradition Brut Champagne, a crisp flavorful complement to a trio of hors d’oeuvres. Choices included veal tartare, bacon wrapped scallops, and tallaggio, a very pungent soft cheese, combined with handmade cherry compote.
After time for greetings and reunions we sat down to anticipate our first course. Chef Wise surprised us with an amuse d’bouche not on the menu. Duck breast lightly seared and sliced thin was presented on a stilton crouton dressed with a port balsamic glaze. This was then followed by the first course of a sweet tender crab leg with hominy spoon bread plated upon a savory sabayon of hollandaise, velouté and whipped cream. A garnish of a very crispy plantain chip made for a great combination of taste and texture. We had a 2003 La Tour Saint-Martin Menetou-Salon Morogues to match the food. This sauvignon blanc was a fine example from the Loire with a combination of smokiness, mineral and citrus.
Our second course gave us an echo of the scallops taken up to another level. Our plates now held a salmon filet wrapped in country ham with garlic spinach accompaniment. This dish had forceful notes that exploded on the palate. It came with 2003 Francois Raquillet Mercury, one of the rising stars of Côte Chalonnaise, featuring a smoky cherry nose and bright finish to cut through the bold flavors of the food.
Our meat entree was next and came with a little fun at the expense of Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Robert Hasl. Some members had been critical of portion size at recent dinners so he was given a serving the size of a postage stamp! This brought great amusement to everyone not least to our Vice Conseiller Gastronomique. When the real dish came out we found beef tenderloin cut into a rope-like shape before cooking. Presented with fingerling potatoes, watercress garnish and curried ketchup, this was an imaginative presentation of a familiar food in a new style. The zesty ketchup brought memories of native Germany for Chevalier Ingo Kiesewetter. We had our beef with an exceptional 2000 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This rich complex wine enticed one for more with each taste bringing something new and mysterious to behold.
An old saying that the “best should be saved for last” came true this night and was to end with a masterful dessert. Hand made coconut chip ice cream draped with Valhrona chocolate was served in a tuile cookie made with Wisconsin shagbark hickory nuts. Lucky were the diners that had a companion who was not a fan of sweets so they could sample a second taste! As the evening came to a close we agreed that our trek across town was met with a dinner to exceed expectations, thanks to the talents of Chef Rôtisseur Ron Wise and the great staff at Rondo’s.
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse