Restaurant review: Sensing

Last night Alli and I went to Sensing, a new-ish restaurant in the Fairmont Battery Wharf hotel, for our monthly new restaurant date night.

My expectations were not high, because our good friends Iva and Demetri had a low review of the restaurant, and I’m generally not a huge fan of hotel restaurants.  But we had a fantastic time, and I highly recommend Sensing.

The restaurant was not busy, as you might expect on a rainy Tuesday night.  We were alone at the “chef’s table” for most of the evening.  This is a bar-like long table where you’re a couple of feet away from the chefs, talking to them, and watching them work the kitchen.

Although Restaurant Week is going on, we chose to order some specific dishes not on the RW menu, and some extra items.  We started with a taster plate, one each of their six mini appetizers.  The oyster, quail egg, and soup shooter were phenomenal.  I’d gladly get those again.

For appetizers, Alli had a foie gras creme brulee concoction with smooth texture, whereas I ordered the “Jonah crab three ways.”  The three ways are the claws cooked tempura-style, a raviolo, and a ceviche with pomegranate.  Excellent appetizers all around, with beautiful presentation and plating.

For entrees, Alli got the roast chicken, and I ordered a Thai-style lobster fettuccine pasta.  Both were outstanding.  The chicken was exceptionally tender and juicy, rivaling Hamersley’s, and the chefs told us about how it’s slow cooked for at least 90 minutes.  The pasta was also very good, well-balanced.

For dessert, we shared the lemon and yuzu crystalline, which was phenomenal.  I’d go back to the restaurant just for this dish alone.  It was like Alinea in style and execution, just wonderful.

We had several glasses of wine through the dinner.  The Ysios Reserva Rioja (2004) stood out for me, and the Chateau Garraud (Lalande de Pomerol 2004) stood out for Alli.

Service was excellent throughout.  Attentive, friendly, professional, not intrusive.  The chefs were happy to chat, partially because it wasn’t a busy night.  They were very curious to hear our thoughts of some past places we’ve been, like Alinea, Dal Pescatore, Pierre Gagnaire, and Per Se, and trade some stories about local chefs as well.  I think we had them converted to fans in the first dish, when Alli showed an impressive palette by tasting the use of orange blossoms to flavor the foie gras.

The atmosphere and decor are very nice.  Quiet, elegant, under-stated, but modern.  A very good place for a business conversation, too.

All in all, a fantastic evening.  You should check out Sensing.  Make sure to chat with Gerard, the head chef, and sit at the chef’s table if you can.