Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Last Parsnip

I admit that I am suffering from burnout. Not writer’s block, mind you, but a general malaise: while my wellspring of convoluted metaphors and analogies, tortured to within an inch of their lives, is as deep as your mom’s vag, my patience, unfortunately, is not.

But when I heard about the Last Parsnip, my will to live returned. I heard a whispered rumor that there was an aristocratic new restaurant opening, somewhere near Seattle. This was no mere “underground club.” Nay, the Last Parsnip is an experience: more precious than an elf riding a Yorkshire Terrier, and as exclusive as an invitation to sip 150-year-old brandy with P Diddy on the deck of a yacht.

A visit to the Last Parsnip’s website reveals a draconian reservations policy: tables are by invitation only. Fortunately, this isn’t as bad as it seems; if you can provide three letters of recommendation from restaurant industry professionals, they’ll probably let you in. At least, they let me in, though I pulled a lot of strings to get those recommendations. Without resorting to shameless name-dropping, let’s just say I now owe three fucking GLOWING reviews.

With my table secured, we proceeded to the Last Parsnip’s secret Bainbridge Island location. The restaurant’s website describes the dining room as being located within a decommissioned lighthouse. This is patently untrue: there IS no lighthouse on Bainbridge Island. It’s a red herring designed to discourage the meek, since the Last Parsnip is ACTUALLY situated within a private dining room inside a wealthy burgher’s house near the Blakely Harbor Put-in.

Once inside, you’ll be escorted past a racquetball court and an indoor stable which, as the maitre’d will point out to you, is completely smell-free: a 100,000 CFM ventilation system whisks away any offending molecules of horse shit, so as not to insult the delicate olfactory sensibilities of diners.

We were led into the Last Parsnip’s opulent dining room, which looks like the Belaggio threw up after eating a bunch of Skittles, and were seated. But claiming one’s seat is still no guarantee of safe harbor, because the Parsnip is like an Arthurian footbridge, governed by an aloof and invincible guardian: there are THREE challenges that must be hurdled to gain entry. Getting a reservation is the first. Finding the place is the second. And negotiating the menu is the third.

The fact is that the menu itself is yet another sly trap for those with a lack of panache. If you attempt to actually order from the menu, you get kicked out. I’m not shitting you: when you think the Last Parsnip can’t possibly get any more ostentatious, they blow past the previous line in the sand as effortlessly as your mom shattered the world record for number of blowjobs given in a day. I personally witnessed a pair of wealthy dowagers, each ripe for a pie to the face, coldly escorted out after requesting the Coronation Mutton (£18), medium well.

The tip-off that the menu is fake is the prices, which are listed in British Pounds. At the very bottom of page is “Bryce’s Tasting Menu,” the cost of which is listed as “MP.” This is what you should actually order, if you want to be served. And “MP” for us cost $495 per person, taxes and gratuity inclusive. Dinner comes with a wine flight, but I’m not a wine blogger and besides, Mad Dog 20/20 is good enough for me, so I dare say I’m not the most educated oenophile.

We started with an amuse: Caciocavallo Podolico “Cheetos.” A small pile of these were brought to the table in a jeweled pimp cup: gnarly caveman clubs of crispy puffed cheese which were similar to their junkfood namesake in shape only. Unlike their neon-orange counterparts, the Caciocavallo Podolico Cheetos were a blunt ivory color, with a clean and creamy dairy flavor imparted by Caciocavallo Podolico, the most expensive cheese in the world.

Next up was an appetizer: the Last Parsnip’s take on “surf n’ turf” featured two cubes of seared “Ultra Kobe” and two cubes of sous vide blue whale blubber. “Ultra Kobe” is, as the waiter described to us, similar to regular Kobe beef, but the cows are fed champagne instead of sake, and are raised most of their lives neck deep in a tank of water. This allows for better marbling, since the buoyancy of the water means less strain on the cow’s muscles. Ultra Kobe tenderloin was then seared using a plasma arc at 7000 degrees Celcius; this is hotter than the surface of the sun.

Beef, when subjected to such a stellar inferno, yields a brittle caramelized crust which I have never encountered; it tastes almost like meaty lace. Inside, the meat was served rare: delicate and vaginal, the purple flesh, spiderwebbed with threads of fat, practically dissolved on the tongue. The Ultra Kobe was served drizzled with a couple drops of port reduction. And , oh yeah—the port was 90 years old.

I must admit I didn’t care for the sous vide blue whale blubber, which was obtained by the Last Parsnip via a special permit from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. This was fatty and rich: TOO rich. Imagine what Oprah’s bone marrow probably tastes like. Blue whale blubber makes that taste like a rice cake. Yet instead of being yielding to the bite, like pork belly, it’s instead strangely fibrous. Yes, yes, I know: Eskimos eat whale blubber. But Eskimos do a lot of dumb things.

The salad course was a thimbleful of “nano greens,” which are micro greens whose growth has been stunted by a lack of water, in much the same way Bonsai trees are grown. This miniscule Mesclun was composed of tiny leaves of red leaf lettuce, arugula, and chicory. Even the dressing was microscopic: the salad was doused in 500 microliters of a Dwarf Patuljak Pepper vinaigrette. Dwarf Patuljak Peppers are, in case you haven’t already guessed, the smallest pepper in the world.

Soup was beef consomm√©, as crystal clear as a Teabagger’s racist intentions. Submerged in a shallow pool of this piping hot masterpiece was a lozenge of saffron egg custard. This savory yellow parallelogram was creamy like a boob in a Flemish master’s painting, and best of all: emblazoned on top of the custard was a gold-leaf Fleur-de-Lys.

The pasta course was fucking killer: a snickering jab at the Olive Garden’s obesity-inducing lunchtime special, “Bryce’s Neverending Pasta Bowl” was a Mobius Strip made of a single piece of papardelle. This delicate ribbon of egg noodle was served amid a spicy sugo of ground pork, finely textured and gleaned from pigs fed only fennel. Shaved atop the pasta were coils of a rare pecorino from Colorado, made only by lesbians.

The main course was, naturally, Lievre a la Royale. This is the most complicated recipe in the world. The eldritch instructions to prepare this are of course easy to fuck up, but as I expected, they nailed it. A ballotine of hare was cooked, sous vide of course, then served draped in a glossy maroon jus of rabbit blood, foie gras, brandy, and butter, garnished with a roasted chestnut and a small pile of pickled haricots verts.

The pinwheel of rabbit meat, tender as the denouement of a Lifetime Original Movie, was alternated with a farce of foie gras and rabbit liver and black truffles, dark and dense and utterly capable of fulfilling the appetites of even the most corpulent one percenter. The roasted chestnut was like an entire winter in a single smoky, creamy nut, and the haricots verts had been pickled in a vinegar made from Bollinger Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes Francaises 1997. Overkill? Of course, but the pickled beans made a welcome counterpoint to the Lievre’s viscous imperial sauce.

Dessert, the waiter revealed with a serial killer’s smile, was “The World’s Girliest Dessert.” A small puck of molten chocolate cake was drizzled with a salted caramel sauce and crowned with a hazelnut tuile. On the side was a quenelle of lavender ice cream, which the waiter prepared tableside, in a move designed to brutally emasculate all of the “molecular gastronomists” dicking around with liquid nitrogen, by dripping BOSE-EINSTEIN CONDENSATE from a steaming cold, matte-black graphite flask into a bowl of cream. Bose-Einstein Condensates are made of rubidium atoms just a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero. When rubidium encounters water it reacts similarly to potassium, by forming a peroxide with the oxygen atoms in the water and liberating hydrogen gas. The hydrogen, of course, infiltrates the ice cream, giving it an effervescence which stings the tongue a bit.

Around the perimeter of the plate, Emily Dickinson’s “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” was written in caramel sauce. The World’s Girliest Dessert was garnished, appropriately, with a live puppy. When the finished dish was presented you could hear a subtle squelch, like the sound of a stepped-upon grape, as every vagina in the room became simultaneously lubricated. I was nonplussed.

You may have noticed that I don’t actually describe the relative deliciousness of any of the dishes. This is because, of course, that every single thing was perfect; each course was the absolute template of its respective dish. There was no need for me to do anything except describe the recipes. An easier and more pleasurable job has never been had by a restaurant critic. That having been said, I’m giving the Last Parsnip a 9.9: they lose 0.1 points because thanks to the World’s Girliest Dessert, I now have to raise a fucking puppy.

Rating: 9.9 puppies out of 10

The Last Parsnip cannot be reached by phone. For reservations, they can be contacted here.