October 29, 2004
Two separate visits to Equus gave us the chance to try two appetizers, four entrées, and a couple of different desserts, including their famous "chess cake" creation.
Appetizers: We tried the Equus crabcakes (two are served). You don’t expect crabcake to be a "light" appetizer, but these were exceptionally heavy, and seemed to be mostly filler instead of crab. The red pepper tartar sauce did its best to save this appetizer but could not.
The classic Caesar salad is, indeed, a classic. It is prepared tableside, from scratch, with a running commentary on the how, why, and history of this salad. I enjoy this type of salad and order it often, but Equus is the first restaurant where I’ve seen the tableside show.
Entrees: We’ve sampled four entrees:
The filet of beef covered with gruyere cheese and horseradish cheddar gratin is a menu highlight. Obviously, this dish is not for those with a timid appetite or timid tastes. The beef was broiled to perfection.
The veal piccata with lemon beurre blanc, capers, and Shiitake mushrooms is a very traditional version of this dish. Sometimes the breading or egg batter can be too heavy, but in this case, it had just the right thickness and texture.
The fresh parmesan-coated sea bass, pan seared in lemon dill beurre blanc with fried leeks, is a menu standard. The fish was fresh and tender and was a surprisingly large fillet. The sea bass this night was wearing a winter coat of parmesan – I thought there was far too much cheese. Since parmesan is a somewhat sharp cheese, and sea bass is a very mild fish, I think the dish would be better with less cheese.
The pancetta-crusted pork tenderloin is pan-seared and served with a raspberry-pinot-noir-infused veal glace. We learned that "pancetta" is Italian bacon, cured with spices and salt, so bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin is "hog heaven". This massive dish was very flavorful, with the raspberry adding some sweetness to each bite (perhaps the raspberry seemed sweet, given the saltiness of the pancetta).
Desserts: The signature dessert at Equus is the "chess cake," a towering dessert with layers of cake, chocolate, and ice cream; it was very good. A bourbon caramel cheesecake was an exceptional treat; the sweetness of the caramel sauce was tempered by the bourbon taste, and the graham cracker crust was nice and crunchy to provide a contrast to the creamy cheesecake. On a different visit, in addition to a repeat of the chess cake, we had the chocolate chip cheesecake, which was also very good.
From journal Dining in Louisville