The Whole Shebang. How many times had I heard people mentioning the craziness that is Alta's definition of the term: every damn thing on their extensive small plates menu for a total of $350? I'd wanted to indulge in this forever, but though opinions on how many people are necessary to consume this spread vary, one thing seemed certain—five people is way too few. So with only four other friends to explore the menu with, we did the best we could without getting it all.
I started with a mint julep, just to get things rolling. Mmm.
We ordered a number of small plates, and above are the crispy brussels sprouts, lamb meatballs with lebne, a bacon-wrapped olive stuffed with an almond, and sauteed broccoli rabe. Of these the tender, savory meatballs were the hit, followed by the sprouts, which had been paired with crème fraiche, pistachios, and an apple cider reduction. To me the bacon-wrapped olive, despite being, y'know, BACON, was salty and just alright, but the others scarfed them down.
I loved the crisp, tangy fried goat cheese balls, which arrived atop a sweet, gooey puddle of lavender-infused honey. But there was something odd in the flavor of the smoked eggplant and lebne dip; the menu describes za'tar, honey, and mint lemon zest, but there seemed to be something else present too that I can't put my finger on (helpful, I know). It was okay.
The "coca," described as a Catalonian flatbread and covered with roasted mushrooms, fresh ricotta, and truffled cheese, disappeared lickety-split. So did the chorizo-wrapped shrimp, four large, crisp specimens to an order. Less so the ricotta parmesan gnocci, which while tasty were a little bit too rich and heavy for the day. Tuna tartare, which came with hearts of palm, chorizo, and macadamia nuts, was something more like a salad and while fresh and light tasting, could have used a bit more acidity and/or salt somewhere, I think.
For dessert there was a cold cantaloupe soup, with an herbal note from either mint or basil (I can't remember which). I think I couldn't get used to the texture of the soup, which was almost as if it had been thickened with corn starch. I liked the flaky tart better, which was filled with sticky apricot (I think). Most of us were too full to take more than a bite though.
Alta was pretty good overall and perfectly charming; romantic, too, if you want it to be. Though nothing stood out as being super amazing in particular, most of what we ordered was tasty. I feel like I've sampled enough so that I don't need to be all crazed about doing the Whole Shebang, but still, I might be back again if I'm looking for an interesting place to eat and drink.