Dan's birthday weekend extravaganza continued Saturday night and we found ourselves at the delightfully quaint Applewood for some of their critically acclaimed fare.

Meena and I had stopped in earlier this year and although we generally liked it, the place wasn't without its faults. Good food and great ideas ... execution was just off in places.

Last night was no different. I think where Applewood really shines is in the quality of its ingredients. They get the best stuff. And I won't argue that point. Everything I tasted was great. Everything from the radishes to the grouper ... tip top quality.

So about the food. We started with another round of their delightful trio of spreads and all were quite delicious. Although I must say they were presented better last time we were there and our bread didn't taste as fresh and nice as I remembered.

For small plates, Meena started with:
- seared big eye tuna with radishes and grilled melon and jalapeño relish

And I went with the:
- crispy braised vermont pork belly with roasted fingerlings, cocarde lettuce, celery root puree

FYI, everyone seemed to think Dan's small plate was the finest selection (duck bolognese
potato gnocchi, garlic confit).

Meena went with a main course of:
- sautéed atlantic halibut with summer onions and a vanilla scented lobster broth

Alec went with:
- pan seared day boat snowy grouper, greens and a milk poached garlic puree

Everything was good. Again, the ingredients were top notch. But for me at least, it just seemed like everything was over-salted and reliant on some puree or sauce. If you're a place that prides itself on the very best ingredients, I just don't think that's necessary.

And my pork belly wasn't as good as the one Meena had in January. Good ... but that was better. Just sayin'.

Anyway, I digress. The food was good (albeit overpriced) and we all had fun. It's such a nice setting.

Meena finished her meal off with a chocolate soufflé that featured a nice scoop of thyme flavored ice cream (I, of course, helped). I had a nice cup of coffee.

Sorry to get all critical (on Dan's birthday even!), but I just had to let the world know about my culinary experience, man!

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