For my birthday this year I let Steve make all the plans. I get really stressed out when I have to plan things, and I just didn't want to be stressed on my birthday. So the wonderful Steve surprised me by planning a birthday dinner for me at Holland House. It was a pretty perfect location for our nice quiet dinner. Seeing as my birthday was on Tuesday, we didn't want to do anything big and Holland House is located right in my neck of the woods. Plus, we had one of our first dates here so it has a special place in my heart.
This is a restaurant where I have to talk about the decor. Holland House is absolutely beautiful. I love the chandeliers and all the warm lighting makes the place sexy. The big overstuffed armchairs in the back by the fireplace are perfect for intimate conversations. Even the lovely bar, which is the focal point of the main room, is beautiful. I love all the charm that was worked into the space. This is a great date location. I've been on many dates here in the past and even if the dude was a dud, I at least got a delicious cocktail in a nice location out of it. On Tuesday, the people at the table next to us were on some kind of awkward first date (we think). It provided us grand enjoyment as the guy kept talking about how much he loved classical music to impress the girl, and she kept patting him on the back about it the whole night. SNOOZEFEST.
Holland House is first and foremost a cocktail bar. I have been to Holland House on many occasions for drinks and only a few for food. Their cocktail menu changes by the season and is always full of delicious and inventive libations. This is a fancy pants bar, which is honestly my style. But since it was my birthday I did not order a cocktail but instead ordered Oban 14 year straight. I'm a scotch drinker at heart and that is pretty much all I want to drink on special occasions. Steve ordered the Crooked Baluster which is made with rum, cassis, absinthe and rye. It was chosen because Steve never had a drink with absinthe mixed in it. While the drink looked beautiful and Steve really liked it, I wasn't a fan. Mostly because I hate the taste of absinthe and it was strongly represented in the drink.
For starters we ordered the bone marrow. Bone marrow is one of my absolute favorite foods and I was thrilled that they had it on the menu. This marrow bone had a nice layer of emmentaler cheese melted on top. Gooey fat and gooey cheese- HELLO AWESOMETOWN. There was also a roasted garlic puree drizzled all over the plate that I couldn't get enough of. The waiter caught me cleaning the plate with my fingers and sucking the marrow out of the bone cavewoman style. I have no shame about how much I love food so I just smiled and wiped the grease off my face.
Steve ordered the night's special: Duck Burger. As soon as I saw this dish on the chalkboard I knew my man would order it. The duck was cooked to a perfect medium rare with a nice layer of pink inside. It was topped with dried cherries, sauteed onions, bibb lettuce and pickled onions. The one bite I had was delicious and we both couldn't stop talking about the perfect use of cherries. The french fries were also pretty badass. They were nice and thick with a crisp outside but a tender inside. They were seasoned perfectly and went great with the homemade ketchup.
I ordered the pan-seared trout. The fist was cooked really well with the skin just slightly crisp and the meat tender. The portion of trout was a pretty good size. Under the fish hid perfect round tiny potatoes in a mustard sauce. To me it was almost like a take on a potato salad. Anyway- those potatoes were my favorite part of the dish. I couldn't get over the size and the texture. It was like a gumball that was actually a potato! As I was nearing finishing the dish, I realized that I was thirsty, very thirsty. The dish was very salty and toward the end all I could taste was salt. I will be the first to admit that I have a bad salt palette and that it is very easy for me to find a dish to be too salty. But this was beyond my personal preference issues. It was just plain salty. After I finished the dish I followed it up with two full glasses of water.