New Restaurant Menu Series, Part One: Appetizers

Yes, you heard right.  There’s a NEW restaurant menu in town (Worcester to be exact)!

Ceres Bistro – our restaurant located inside the Beechwood Hotel – has undergone some welcome changes recently.  William Nemeroff has joined us as our new Executive Chef, and Samir Dhir brings his extensive hospitality experience as our restaurant’s new General Manager.  Feel free to read this Telegram & Gazette article to learn more about Bill and Samir, who we have welcomed to Ceres with open and excited arms!

Now, about our new restaurant menu… this is an exciting announcement to make.  We are pleased to host a guest contributor on our blog, who will offer you an “insider taste” of our new menu.  This local small business owner and her colleagues recently ventured to Ceres Bistro to test out our new restaurant menu – from appetizers to desserts – that has been successfully revamped thanks to Chef Nemeroff.  We are thrilled that she has agreed to contribute to our blog in the form of a three-part series, depicting her dining experience.

A very special thank you to our guest!

We now welcome you to enjoy “Part One” of our three-part series: our appetizers.  Get your napkins ready as she walks you through her journey of tasteful delights, beginning with our new appetizer menu…

Taking the evening to spend with my girls (the lovely ladies who work with me) at Ceres Bistro is hardly a tall order.  It’s a pleasure to plan, and of course the company is great.  What was a real treat beyond the company and the laughs shared after hours was the edible delights enjoyed at the table.

Myself, Jen, Charlotte and Lauren all sat together and embarked on a gastronomic adventure together that would leave us almost dizzy with delight.  It was so fantastic that I really must share it with you.  The new chef, pseudo-famous chef Bill Nemeroff, formerly of the Cedar Street Restaurant in Sturbridge and of The People’s Kitchen (Niche Hospitality’s downtown gem hidden in The Citizen), really has a strong hold of the new menu and knows how to please.  Let me take you down taste bud lane.

Appetizers (also known as “The Warmup”)

First, we ordered four appetizers: Laurelwood Farms Oyster Mushroom & Roasted Duck Leg, Crispy Pork Belly, Pan Seared Sea Scallops and Crisped Westfield Farms Goat Cheese.  While we waited, we enjoyed nice hot and steamy bread with the EVOO and balsamic vinegar plate, occasionally stopping to smear some roasted garlic on a piece of bread.  I joked, “Hey, I have enough friends,” as I greedily ate my first clove.  Well, as it turns out, I could still make more because the garlic wasn’t pungent or too bold at all.  Roasting has a way of doing that, and it came out perfect.

When our server brought the four apps all at once, we had a hard time deciding which to enjoy first, but settled on the scallops.

New Restaurant Menu at Ceres Bistro in Worcester Massachusetts: Appetizer Menu

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Potato Chorizo Rösti, Sweet Cream Corn and House Pickled Onion.

It was a dish we found to be artfully arranged, and a visual delight.  The contrast of colors and textures were all in compliment.  Admittedly, however, we didn’t stop too long to enjoy the view.  We sliced it up, and dove in. The first thing we all agreed on was the sweet, delicate, yet somehow deep flavor of the scallops. Up against the delicate potato cake, it was a joyous aberration from what we’d expect – the flavors and textures melded in perfect harmony.  The crunchy texture of the potato cake with its bold flavor signature set against the soft, yet deep notes of the scallops, combined with the smooth and almost understated flavor of the cream sauce was a winning combination – perhaps perfect.  Adding a touch of the candied onion garnish to a bite really just created a perfect symphony of gastric delight.  We didn’t leave a drop on the plate, and if you order this dish, I highly doubt you will either.

New Restaurant Menu at Ceres Bistro in Worcester Massachusetts: Appetizer Menu

Crisped Westfield Farms Goat Cheese with Roasted Beets, Baby Greens, Whole Mustard Maple Emulsion.

Next, we moved onto the goat cheese dish.  Who doesn’t love a good goat cheese dish?  We enjoyed its presentation too, again, not really lingering long to enjoy the view.  The goat cheese was soft, and gently pungent, as it is supposed to be, and as delicate as it could be.  The outer crust (having been fried) was savory and gave it a really nice offsetting texture to the creamy and tart interior.  Served with warm beets with a remarkable maple sauce that hinted at horseradish, we all felt that it was a perfectly balanced dish in harmony with all its parts in, as Charlotte put it, “perfect equilibrium.”

Insert long swig of water to cleanse the palate and move on…

New Restaurant Menu at Ceres Bistro in Worcester Massachusetts: Appetizer Menu

Laurelwood Farms Oyster Mushroom & Roasted Duck Leg with Baby Greens, Shallot, Parsley, A L'oliver Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Onto the duck breast.  It was served in a very generous portion atop a mesclun mix of greens.  Duck can be greasy and sometimes even gamey, but today it wasn’t.  It was mild in flavor, and cooked appropriately for the dish.   The flavor was smooth and unassuming.  What really set this dish apart, in our shared opinion was the mushroom infusion amidst the pieces of duck.  The mushrooms were soft, sweet, and lending a fantastic woodsy note with a delicate texture.  While duck may have been the headlining ingredient, the mushrooms stole the show without question.  I may be inclined to ask for extra mushrooms the next time I order this dish – that’s how truly marvelous they were.

New Restaurant Menu at Ceres Bistro in Worcester Massachusetts: Appetizer Menu

Crispy Pork Belly with Local Apple Butter, Hazelnuts and Cider Gastrique.

Ahh pork belly.  We saved the beast for last.  What an interesting arrangement.  While not composed in the most grandiose manner on the plate, it didn’t matter.  It was clean, attractive and frankly, with the way we were hoover-ing up the apps, it didn’t make a difference.  We found the dish to be a really warm and autumn-like blend of flavors that really came together beautifully.  The pork itself was meaty, and in my experience, I’d had a really fatty pork belly expectation, but that’s not what was found here.  It was very fleshy, soft and almost falling apart.  The fibers were broken down enough to make it very soft.  Now let me tell you about the sauce – oh God the sauce.  It was spicy, apple-y, cinnamon-y, and really fantastic for a cold day.  Oddly enough, it reminded me of fall festivals in New England with soft sweaters and apple cider.  Gee, I wonder why.  This would have been great for one person, but could also make 2 people quite happy.

*burp*  Excuse me.

We want to again thank this local small business owner for her beautiful contribution!

We are almost falling over in joy ourselves about the changes that have been made.  The recent addition of Chef Bill Nemeroff to the Ceres Bistro team was certainly an applauded decision among so many, and we’re truly ecstatic to see where he will continue to take our menu in the future!

If these appetizers sparked your taste buds’ curiosity, we invite you to get a taste for the whole appetizer menu on our website.  We’re sure you will find a delightful dish or two – or four – to become your favorite new appetizer.  We pride ourselves in offering fresh, seasonal ingredients purveyed from local sources when possible… So come try out our new appetizer menu and be delighted by what you’ll taste!

Stay tuned for Part Two of our “New Restaurant Menu Series,” as we’ll be diving into our NEW dinner menu (aka, The Main Dish) at Ceres Bistro in Worcester, MA!