with barely cooked, summer sweet
corn for a nice textural feature.
Duck L’orange features more of the
kitchen’s mastery of the Maillard
reaction, without overshooting my
requested medium rare. Raw fennel and supremed oranges keep
things light and fresh, while a base
of polenta provides a sturdy foundation.
The bar follows suit with a solid
collection of offerings. House cocktails showcase the classics. The
Vieux Carre is silky smooth, offset
by a jet black cherry and a touch
of bitters pooled in the belly of the
martini glass. Taps feature mostly
craft beer, heavy on local favorites
from Hamburg, Community Beer
Works, and Big Ditch. The wine list
is fairly compact with most bottles
under $30, and $15 for select bottles on Wednesdays. We selected a
French rosé that was light, refreshing, and a perfect complement for
most of the menu.
As the concept of chef-driven
cuisine continues to evolve, Chef
Murtha’s Carte Blanche stands as
strong evidence to support it.
Jeff Biesinger is Spree's fine dining
local tomato season, I was pleased
to see kitchen chose to pair the
cheese with meaty heirloom and
grape tomatoes, which help tomato aficionados survive until August.
The finished plate is lightly dressed
with a few drops of olive oil and
balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of fresh
basil, and pyramids of crunchy salt.
Freshly made pasta occupies
much of the menu. Cacio e pepe,
by nature, is a simple dish of black
pepper and cheese, so it’s best not
to overthink it. While we encountered a decent rendition, I found it
to be a little overseasoned, as if the
sauce built from the cooking water
was too aggressively salted or overly
reduced. The potato gnocchi, which
isn’t quite as light as we’re used to,
is submerged in garnet sauce packed
with jammy tomato flavor, sharing
the bowl with near equal amounts
of fresh mozzarella curds.
Entrees are nicely portioned and
well composed. The veal marsala
is smothered under a luxuriously
glossy brown sauce that’s studded with Flat 12 mushrooms and
set atop a pile of decadent mashed
potatoes. Halibut is browned well,
forming a pleasing crust, and paired
with a toothsome risotto, studded
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