My (37th) birthday was Thursday, August 19th. Being mid-week we opted to delay the official celebration until Saturday the 21st. My favorite restaurant in the world is McCrady's, headed up by Chef Sean Brock, so it was the obvious choice.
I have met Chef Brock a few times, and about a year ago he said to let him know when I was coming in to McCrady's and he would do something special. I have the most over the top case of hero worship for Chef Brock that you can imagine. It would be like Geddy Lee offering to sing "happy birthday" to a Rush fan, or a tween girl getting a hug from Justin Bieber. So I was over the moon when he made this offer, but I was too timid to do anything about it. We dined in anonymity at McCrady's several times until I finally worked up the courage to e-mail Chef Brock and take him up on his offer. He responded and we exchanged a couple of e-mails so he could get an idea of what to do.
So it was with an incredible level of excitement and more than a little nervous anxiety that we arrived at McCrady's for 6:30 dinner reservations. We were seated and offered a wine list but no menus. The waiter knew Chef Brock had a special menu for us which was going to remain a secret. Our only choice was whether to do wine pairings, which we did.
What followed was a dining experience the likes of which I never imagined existed. We have dined at Providence, one of three Michelin 2 star restaurants in Los Angeles, and La Pergola, which at the time was the only Michelin 3 star restaurant in all of Italy. When we travel we seek out highly regarded restaurants around the world. I can say without hesitation that this meal at McCrady's set the standard for all future fine dining experiences I will have.
I didn't write down the courses and I didn't want to take a camera to interfere with the experience, so I don't know exactly what we had. As the courses kept coming we joked about which course we were on. We lost count somewhere around seven or eight. Chef Brock came out three times to do tableside preparations and explain dishes. The last time he asked if we knew how many courses we had already had. We guessed nine. "This is number thirteen, and there is only one more," he said with a wry smile.
The first time I looked at my watch it was 9:30. I think that was around course eight. We finally left a little after 11:00, making this the longest meal I have ever had, and it eclipses any other dining experience I have ever had. It wasn't just the personal attention and it wasn't just my hero worship for Chef Brock. The food and service were spectacular. The plating was breathtaking. The flavor, texture and temperature combinations were simply sublime.
And I have to give a very special thank you to my life partner, Myron. He treated me and one of my dear friends to this spectacular experience. It was not the most expensive meal we have ever had, but it is the best. I am glad I was able to share it with him.