My husband has trained me not to say, "This is the best meal I've ever had." Apparently, I used to say this frequently and became aware of it when he once replied, "I thought last night you had the best meal you've ever had. So which one is the best meal you've ever had: this one or the one last night?"
I am so well trained now that last night I was dying to tell the waitress at Beck's Land & Sea House in Bushkill Township, "This is the best meal I've ever had." But I caught myself and said, "This is one of the top five meals I've ever had."
The vegetables were amazing and just as good as that New Jersey restaurant where they grow their own vegetables and it costs $200 or so a person and it's one of the top 10 restaurants in the country year after year... I told her all of these things -- except that it was the best meal I've ever had in my entire life.
As we drove home and for most of the evening, I compared my meal to some truly great meals just to be sure. I thought about some great meals I've had in New York and San Francisco and at Paolos in Northampton, Pa., who has, in my opinion, the best chef to EVER prepare meals for me. I compared it to the fried fresh mozzarella with tomato sauce I could slug by the gallon at Mama Nina's in Bethelehem. I compared it to the incredible sea bass the Sodexo chef prepared for the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's gala in June. He created a sauce using Subarashii Kudamono pear wine from Kempton and mead (honey wine) from Manatawney Creek Winery in Douglassville. I tried to compare it to every meal that ever made an impression on me.
And, alas, I have now determined it was the best meal I have ever eaten.
It was Tilefish with roasted brussel sprouts and a cauliflower puree -- and it was divine. Prior to last night, I had no idea what tilefish was. When the waitress descibed it as like swordfish, I almost passed as I pictured the dry grey swordfish steaks I had endured before I learned to never order swordfish under any circumstances at any restaurant. She added that it was white and buttery like chilean sea bass and I was back in the game.
I must tell you that I love brussell sprouts, especially when someone takes the time to take off the tough and bitter outer leaves and has the expertise and attention to detail to cook them for the appropriate amount of time. I do like cauliflower and the puree had me intriqued. Since I enjoy cooking, I like to order things I wouldn't take the time to prepare at home -- pureeing cauliflower definitely qualifies as something I wouldn't do at home.
Everything was perfect and delicious. This fish was light and flaky and buttery. The brusell sprouts were amazing and the puree was something I could have eaten from a giant soup bowl like a thick chowder -- if they would have offered it that way.
I was told that a young man who works in the kitchen is very entrepreneurial and came up with the dish. He happened to be working the bar that night and I regret not complimenting him before I left. However, I hope I get another chance. I did leave my name and contact information at the hostess station so they can notify me when this amazing dish is on the specials list again. I'll be there!