Sangria Sampler: Classic Red (Hennessy cognac, Grand Marnier, almond syrup, cinnamon with fresh orange, strawberry, lemon, & green apple), Elder-Melon (Grey Goose Le Melon, Marie Brizard watermelon, Prosecco, with fresh watermelon, lemon, lime, & orange), Berry Good (Amaretto, cranberry, fresh blackberry, & sweet citrus flavors)
Frozen Mango & Lychee Sangria (Don q cristal rum, Grand Marnier raspberry peach, mango & lychee puree with fresh raspberry, orange, lemon, & lime)
Oxtail empanadas (Delicious oxtail filled pastry served with a harissa lime crème fraîche)
Soft pretzel bread (with spicy beer mustard)
In the “gnudi” (Baked ricotta, truffle honey, fig jam, roasted almonds & cranberry & walnut crostini)
Roasted Mexican street corn (Perfectly seasoned corn on the cobb with a lime aioli chili pepper & Parmesan cheese)
Mixed mushroom flatbread (Mushrooms, smoked bacon, carmelized onion & a soft poached egg)
Chicken and red velvet waffle sliders (Belgium red velvet waffle, chicken breast with a red pepper remoulade slaw)
Hangar steak tartar (Topped with confit egg yolk & Parmesan. Served with pickles & grilled bread)
Crispy fried pig ears (Seasoned & breaded, deep fried to perfection with a truffle honey mustard)
Roasted cauliflower (china ranch dates & yellow curry)
Cast iron s’mores (Graham cracker crust with dark semi-sweet chocolate & toasted mallows bacon)
Crumbled carrot cake (Brown Butter Ice Cream, Carrot cake layered on a cream cheese frosting schmear)
Recently opened in the white-hot Fremont East district, an interesting decision given the established gastro-pub offerings of Park, Glutton, Carson Kitchen and more, it was at the suggestion of two trusted palates that dinner at “Therapy.” was booked, the menu seemingly featuring all the right words with execution left to Chef Daniel Ontiveros in his debut role as head toque in a restaurant off The Strip.
Long in layout and two-stories tall, the space formerly inhabited by a Dollar Store completely renovated with a sexy bar and exposed ceilings as an open kitchen operates towards the back, it was at the hostess stand that we met General Manager Chuck Scimeca and swiftly led to a tidy four-top at the center of the restaurant the option of dining a la carte or letting the Chef cook for the table was offered, the later obviously accepted with a few special requests.
Admittedly allowing a friend of the house to arrange the reservation, and unexpectedly presented with no check at night’s end, it was with service proving not only friendly but exceedingly well-informed and efficient that the meal began; a plate of soft pretzels set beside a quartet of oxtail empanadas, the former unequivocally buttery and luscious while the latter found surprising levity when dipped in peppery crème fraîche.
Sipping a stiff yet fruity frozen drink, and later treated to a tasting of signature sangrias from which the Elder-Melon iteration proved an on-point summer refresher, it was with good pacing that round two arrived a few minutes after opening plates were finished and although the citrus kissed street corn was certainly no slouch there is little sense arguing that the star of the show was in fact the absolutely irresistible ricotta dumplings entitled “in the gnudi,” a gooey bite both sweet and savory that wows equally when eaten like gnocchi or spread on crostini, an item already rivaling the best appetizers in the city and a midpoint contender for the year’s ten best bites.
At this point seeing lights lowered as a pop-heavy soundtrack switched to Taylor Swift at a volume that seemed a bit unnecessary given the growing din of the crowd, it was onward to a flaky puff-pastry ‘flatbread’ topped with mushrooms and a soft-poached egg that the savories marched on, and with a shocking degree of smoke imbued in the crust given the use of an electric oven each slice was slowly savored, a follow-up jar of silky steak tartar on par with what should be expected while the whimsical red-velvet sliders were unfortunately a bit muddled by all the accoutrements, a bit less slaw or more brine to the bird needed to add balance while the ‘bun’ would have been better off crisp.
At this point a bit full, but unable to resist tasting a few more savories before moving onto dessert, it was with good fortune that a request was made to sample the meatiest pig’s ears tasted to date, and yet as delicious as the indulgent strips were it was perhaps a bit of a surprise that the charred yellow cauliflower presented even bolder, the use of curry, dates, as well as nuts offering a great degree of balance and giving one hope of great things to come when Ontiveros launches a market-driven blackboard in the months to come.
Told that sweets at Therapy. are something not to be missed it was after a short visit from the Chef that the meal would reach its end, and again treated to a duo one would be hard pressed to decide whether the cast iron s’mores or deconstructed carrot cake was better, each creamy spoonful of the first exceptionally decadent despite being nicely anchored by a graham cracker base while the crumbled semicircle of spice cake was unquestionably more elegant, each bite offering something slightly different when paired to ice cream and airy cream cheese.
FOUR STARS: Still new, but already executing at a high level from the kitchen to the front of house staff, Therapy. marks yet another success for East Fremont, an area where things may indeed seem ‘same-same’ on the surface, while a deeper shows Chefs like Ontiveros instead pushing new concepts in an attempt to evolve the scene, and perhaps even swing the pendulum away from the strip and thereby change the game.
RECOMMENDED: “In the Gnudi,” Roasted Cauliflower, Mixed Mushroom Flatbread, Crumbled Carrot Cake.
AVOID: Chicken and Waffle Sliders.
TIP: Open for both lunch and dinner, 7 days a week, with the whole menu offered throughout service and specials soon to come.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor