In the most recent edition of a year-long "Around the World" wine dinner series -- an evening that paired Spanish and Portuguese wines with the cuisine of Spain -- chef Kristofer Jakob of Kris Bistro & Wine Lounge, the restaurant inside Culinary Institute LeNôtre, left diners impressed.
Jakob isn't "just" an executive chef; he's a teacher as well, and his "staff" is made up of students whom he trains and teaches and rotates throughout positions in the kitchen. He gets a new group of students every month. Typically, the restaurant serves French fare. Sum up all of these factors and it's easy to see why pulling off a Spanish and Portuguese wine dinner -- or any themed wine dinner, for that matter -- without a hitch is commendable.
Kris Bistro's wine dinner brought fresh ingredients with unmistakable Spanish flavor in each of its four courses -- all displays of Jakob's versatility. The first course featured a decidedly Spanish salad that included a large, packed-with-flavor marinated sardine, arugula, hard-boiled egg and boiled white yam paired with Martin Codax's bright Albariño. Delicate salted cod fritters, paella and pan-seared scallops made for a deliciously rich second course that was served with the fruitiness of Las Rocas' Garnacha. Jakob and his students pleased again with Madeira-marinated beef tenderloin that paid homage to the adage "quality over quantity." Scala Dei's Negre, another Garnacha, proved a fitting accompaniment to the tenderloin, with its bold character and pepper and spice notes. An authentic, subtly sweet Crema Catalana concluded the night perfectly.
Only adding to the positive experience of Kris Bistro's wine dinners is the hospitality of general manager Jerry Arguelles. Arguelles makes sure each and every guest is comfortable and happy from the moment he or she walks in the door. Between Arguelles running the front of the house and Jakob helming the kitchen, diners are hard-pressed to find anything to be unhappy about.
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If you've missed out on the duo's flawless food and wine pairing dinners, do yourself a favor and pay a visit to Kris Bistro on December 31 for their New Year's Eve Dinner. Here are the details:
New Year's Eve Dinner December 31, seatings at 5:30-6 p.m. and 8:30-9 p.m. $78 per person + tax, gratuity and beverages
Ring in the new year with a five-course dinner that includes fruits de mer, foie gras torchon, beef tenderloin, a caramelized Belgian endive salad and crepes suzette. Although a Champagne toast and party favors are included, this menu does not include wine pairings.
To make a reservation, call 713-358-5079.