Carnivores are confronted with plenty of alluring options too. Grilled rib eye of American grass-fed bison (among the most tender and least gamey of game meats) is accompanied by an apricot beggar's purse filled with spiced hazelnuts and yogurt cheese, while grilled rack of lamb, also grass-fed, gets garnished with green papaya slaw and piquant peanut chutney. A sirloin of wild Nilgai antelope was leaner, chewier, more fully flavored than its cow counterpart -- tasted a little like venison, and indeed is often marketed as such. The ruby red meat was served with a tasty tartlette of vegetables and "ricotta" made from versatile pignoli.
Pan-roasted breast of wild pheasant was a bit dry, and the more subtle aspects of chanterelle, lobster, and trumpet mushrooms on the side were masked by an overly potent vinegar marinade, but a raw chocolate mole sauce painted across the plate vibrated with sassy seasonings (cardamom, cumin, almond) and sweeteners (dates, raisins, carrot juice). The sole pasta offering, homemade saffron-almond penne, was robustly pepped with pesto, portobellos, slivered artichoke, sun-dried tomato, toasted almonds, and shavings of aged, raw goat cheese. A sumptuously soft, pristinely steamed slab of wild Alsaskan halibut came sparked with mint, lemon juice, and preserved kumquats -- so ethereal it practically floated atop champagne grapes dotted with sprouted quinoa.
Afterglo caters more to the hip than the hippie crowd
Pastry chef Alejandro Briceño's desserts are as stunningly creative as the rest of the fare. I'll admit I wasn't keen on the chalky pink peppercorn mousse that topped an otherwise creditable carrot cake, but purists will purr over the "honey pot," a raw, sugar-free walnut tartlette with dreamy banana cinnamon cream, sliced bananas, orange segments, hemp seeds, and a drizzle of honey and organic chocolate sauce. Those who prefer their treats baked are sure to be pleased with the eight chocolate textures -- although, not to quibble, I counted only six. No matter, the three main elements are brownie, ice cream, and sauce, all deeply dark and chocolatey. Didn't try the milk chocolate cremoso, topped with Celtic sea salt and olive oil and served with sourdough toast and coffee parfait, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were designed by those wacky molecular gastronomists.
After finishing the meal, my wife broke the news to me gently: I was no closer to resembling Orlando Bloom. Still, Afterglo offers honest, compelling, delicious cuisine. And that's a beautiful thing.