My birthday dinner at Maude

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My birthday was Tuesday, and this year I spoiled myself a bit. Those of you who have read my blog before know how much I adore Curtis Stone. When he opened a restaurant in February, I knew that was what I wanted to do for my birthday. And I made it happen.

I flew to Los Angeles to see one of my best friends from college, who was excited to celebrate with me. We had reservations for the late seating on May 31 — the last night for rhubarb. If you’re not familiar with Maude, they choose an ingredient each month, and give you a multiple-course dinner in which each plate contains the ingredient somehow. There are no menus, it’s all whatever the chefs want to serve you that night. I was happy to get rhubarb because June is morels, and I have never enjoyed mushrooms. Though, in all fairness, had May been booked, I’d have given Curtis Stone and his staff a chance to change my mind on that subject.

When you are looking forward to something, it’s easy to build high expectations that are usually never met by the actual experience. But Maude was better than I imagined. Every one of the nine courses they served was made with intention. Each dish had well-balanced flavors that made us want to lick the plate clean. From the knowledgeable, friendly staff who folded my napkin each time I left the table to the final sip of coffee after dessert, the experience was beyond anything I’ve ever had. It was, simply put, the best dinner of my life. While I didn’t get to meet Curtis Stone, I finally understood what Robert Irvine meant when he told me about amuse-bouche when I interviewed him last year.

The entire dinner was a wonderful treat, and the diners sitting on both sides of us were really friendly and made dinner all that much more enjoyable. I can’t wait to go back someday.

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