One recent Thursday, Jeff and scored one of those rare mid-week nights out, sans kids. We felt like we were getting away with something. (For the record, our lovely friend Mel was watching the kids, so it’s not like we left our grade schoolers to fend for themselves.)
By the time we arrived at The Mariposa and began to peruse the menu, my suspicions were confirmed: We were getting away with something—the small-plates format, introduced this year, truly lets you explore the menu without overdoing it.
Whereas previously tasting-sized portions were available only to guests who ordered a specific tasting menu, now, guests encouraged to create their own tasting menus, customizing portion sizes at single, double or triple—to their liking and appetite. This is a great improvement over the previous setup, when pacing a meal could get awkward if some at the table ordered a tasting menu while others stuck to, say, a first course and an entrée. Oh, and when some of us couldn’t control our urge to try it all, only to wind up with—at worst—the need to lie down in an adjacent empty booth to accommodate a food coma, or—at best—a nasty food hangover from overeating. (Or, both. Not that it ever happened to me. Or to anyone I know. Really.)
Also, I’m crazy about the fact that you can order wines by the glass in five-ounce or three-ounce pours—I love pairing food with wine, but I’m nothing if not a lightweight drinker.
I noticed that the new menu invites a lot more conversation about the food—the mood in the dining room was lively, and I couldn’t help but overhear a family of five at the next table, animatedly debating which “favorites” deserved a second-round order. A shout-out to the family at the round table next to our booth: I like your style!
Our server, Bill, was quick to point us to the menu’s newest additions—and to point out that the elderberries for the Pontack sauce on the beef short rib are harvested over the summer, from the slopes of Deer Valley. We dabbled in the familiar, and exulted in the new: Yes, there was a double-order of buratta, that decadently creamy handmade mozzarella.
The shrimp ravioli didn’t disappoint, and neither did the seared scallop with risotto. We dipped into Fresh Maine Lobster Chowder, and shared three meat dishes—Veal, Bison and Beef Short Rib. None of the flavors competed, but they all stood out from one another.
Shockingly, there was room for dessert—and here’s where it got fun: Pop Rocks Cookie. Yes, those pop rocks. Baked. Into. A. Cookie. It’s a complement piece on the Java Cone dessert (so many textures and flavors on this plate!), but honestly, it’s so much fun, I might have to call ahead next time and order a batch of the cookies, just for the surprised look I’ll get from my dining partners’ faces.