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James on 8th - Chef Jim Burke and GM Kristina Burke in Bella Vista - Closed

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went to james on 8th this past saturday with my wife & sister-in-law -

Dining room was packed full when we arrived for our 8:30 reservation but the bar was pretty empty (thankfully) as we were able to get seats and talk to the bartender a bit. I had a hendricks and honeydew – gin & honeydew with fresh thyme – it was nice and refreshing. They didn’t seat us until close to 9 but that was OK, the host was very apologetic.

Overall the food was amazing and the service was really spot on – attentive but not hovering or overbearing – the meal was leisurely and we weren’t rushed or anything, although it did take a bit too long between our 1st and second courses – almost 30 minutes, but that was the only niti had overall.

Sommelier was great, very friendly – actually recommended a wine that was more affordable than the initial one I was looking at – and the wine list overall was really reasonably priced. They also had a few half bottles which I thought was a nice touch.

We got a bottle of red a Dolcetto something – spicy upfront but light finish and then a 2nd half bottle of another italian that was lighter bodied and went really nice with the entrees.

All of the servers were very friendly actually – I had a question about an after dinner drink, the Mas Amiel 10-year. The server didn’t know what it was but got another sever who explained it was a port (it wasn’t clear from the menu description) and gave offered me a taste. Kristina the manager/co-owner made her way around the entire dining room interacting with guests etc and stopped by several times to check on us and talked with us a bit.

In terms of the meal itself –the menu is organized into basically 3 courses – 1st courses, then 2nd course of various pastas & risottos, and entrees.

They sent out an amuse bouche which was a little pork pate thing with a parsley oil.

For 1st courses the 3 of us split 2 dishes – a poached salmon with fennel and I think it was an artichoke puree (can’t really remember) as well as sea scallops with a slightly lemony sauce that was great.

2nd course we again split 2 dishes: hand cut tagliatelle with duck ragu, shaved chocolate & orange (apparently this is the only dish that has never been removed from the menu) it was amazing – the duck was almost braised – the orange sauce was delicate and not too sweet or tart – really well balanced.

The other dish we got was the special, called risi & bisi – and it was better than the tagliatelle (which was amazing). It was a risotto with mint peas that had what was described as a sort of “bacon sorbet” if I remember correctly but was like a bacon flavored heavy cream. It sounded a little out there when first described (I actually had to ask the components again when it was served ‘cause I’d forgotten) but was awesome.

For entrees – 2 of us got the Four Story Hill farms poularde, tender spinach porcini mushrooms & apple infused pan sauce. My wife got the red curry braised wild pink snapper, mustard greens & mussel-potato.

The chicken was incredibly moist & light - it was prepared by some technique where thy take the skin off – then put in garlic and some seasoning and then wrap the skin back on and roast it. I initially thought it must have been brined to be that moist but it wasn't.

We were pretty stuffed at this point but split one of the deserts – a rhubarb crème cake special, and I had the aforementioned 10-year port.

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