After a hard winter and a cancellation from a snow and ice storm earlier in the year, the Cincinnati Bailliage welcomed the arrival of spring with an elegant dinner at Beluga in the neighborhood of Hyde Park.
Entering through the perfume of spice scented candles, guests found a solace of contemporary comfort surrounded by roses and candlelight. For over two years Cindy and Mike Hama have been showing a stylish charm to adventurous diners with their Asian flair in cuisine and relaxing surroundings. As uptempo background music was provided by assistant manager Michael Spalding, attendees enjoyed several hors d’oeuvres with a refreshing Bellenda Prosecco 2001. Chicken satay and Beluga’s version of crab Rangoon were well received as a preview of more to come.
Walking past the bar strewn with rose petals, the group proceeded to the cozy confines of the main room. Each table was adorned with an arrangement of tea roses in various colors over crisp white linen. The dining experience started with a roasted crab cake, very soft in texture with a hint of tartness to accentuate the flavor of crab. This was soon followed by three different types of sushi, a specialty of the house. Tuna, shrimp, and barbecued eel made a beautiful presentation and offered fresh unique tastes. This would have been a high point of the meal if there were not so many great things to come! To accompany these opening courses the attentive staff poured a Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2001. Its clean bright flavors with a touch of mineral finish showed the sauvignon blanc to be a good complement for the appetizers.
The diners were next presented with wonton soup made from lobster with crab supported in a rich chicken broth. This refreshment prepared everyone for the main courses, staring with a mahi mahi that had a mild and juicy center surrounded by a coating of black bean garlic plum sauce. The fish was matched to a Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay 2001 to the pleasure of the crowd. Rombauer is well known for robust full-bodied wines and the rich fruit balanced with big oak finish in this recent chardonnay is indicative of the vintner.
Another main course brought yet another high point for the palate when beef tenderloin was given a fusion of French and Asian styles. This came with a marvelous Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 and proved to be the most outstanding match of the night. This may be Penfolds’ finest bottling apart from the fabled “Grange” and its elegance and depth were well met by the blue cheese encrusted medallions draped in demi-glaze and baby vegetables.
The meal concluded with a mango ice cream, simple yet rich in fruit sweetness and creamy texture. For those still indulging, the mango flavor combined easily with the chardonnay. Since co-owner Mike Hama had returned to Thailand for family business, his wife Cindy introduced chef Paendin to the Bailliage, who had proven she was up to the task by the approval and applause from all attendees. Beluga helped the Chaîne commemorate the advent of spring to grand success. Chai yo!
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse