Thanks for your comment! I'd pick Per Se over Jean-Georges any day of the week, so I hope you're happy with your decision. Six people! Hope you didn't have any other plans for your next paycheck.
I know this post is ancient, but I happened to look back on it tonight, and I realized that I eventually did have the non-alcoholic pairings. If you'd like to have a look at them, I included them in this review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/850911.
Oooooh, looks like they have multiple egg pies on the weekend. Thanks!
Interesting! Love that place. Thank you.
Thank you! I've been wanting to go there for forever, anyway.
I think it was trendy here but is over now? The Otto and Motorino ones have been around forever, and when I was Googling, it seems like restaurants that used to serve one have since closed. I missed out!
I can't believe I didn't know about An Underground Pizza; that's one of my favorites. Thank you!
I know about the one at Otto and the one at Motorino, but who else is serving an egg pizza?
One of my friends had the venison the other night, too, and we were blown away by the texture. So unbelievably tender. I think the chef said it was from Australia; it was clear he tried a lot of venison before settling on this one.
The desserts were so good the other night, too. I love the pine needle ice cream, but the "vanilla" ice cream on the Hemingway was my favourite. It tasted like toasted marshmallow to me.
Thanks for weighing in! Looks like I doubly have to try it.
I went back again last night and still didn't hit all of the dishes you mentioned! Mizuna tempura sounds so interesting, and I've been dyyyyying for the farro salad but keep choosing something else at the last minute. I got to try a bite of the pumpkin salad last night and also loved the skate, but the hot pot is so out of place on the menu that I've always wrinkled my forehead at it. Glad to hear it's not to be missed! I think the menu is changing really soon, so hopefully I get back before it goes away.
Thanks for the heads-up. That sounds delicious. And the pear-in-the-bottle is so neat!
Thanks! Someone in my group has to get the octopus; we can't resist. Maybe we're a bunch of wimps, but the three of us who tried the lobster larb thought it was incredibly spicy. Delicious, though. I had the piri piri shrimp again last night but didn't notice an iodine taste. How strange.
I'd do everything in my power not to share those carrots, too. That's why I tried to convince all of my friends to order the dish for themselves!
Louro has been open in Greenwich Village for over a year now and is still surprising me with its robust flavors every time I go. Sometimes I’ll be sitting at a happy hour spot closer to home, and I’ll think, “Yeah, I could be at Louro right now instead, but what’s the big deal?” And then I’ll actually go to Louro and am like, “Why have I been wasting my life?” Chef Santos has let me come photograph his food several times, so I didn't Louro a score so as to avoid looking like a shill, but I thought you might want to see some photos of what's going on there right now.
• Whiskey in the Jar: Irish whiskey, grapefruit, ginger, spices
I went with five of my friends, so we basically ate the entire menu. But first we started with many, many rounds of half-price happy hour drinks. This was the table favourite.
• beef tartare, caraway sauce
Off the menu and so bright with those pickled onions but then also earthy and pungent with that caraway spread. Caraway isn’t the first spice I think of for anything, but I loved seeing Chef Santos use it in a non-Indian, non-Middle-Eastern context.
• heirloom carrot salad, miso
This was a special the night we visited, and THANK GOD, because this is my favourite thing at Louro. I encouraged my entire table to get it, and everyone outright ignored me. Not that I blame anyone for scoffing at carrots, but these are not only incredibly visually beautiful but also unexpectedly Asian-flavored. I never even thought I cared that much about miso until I had this dish for the first time. And then there’s the rice wine vinegar, the mirin, and the scallions. Incredibly, the New York Times just published the recipe for the heirloom carrot salad this week, so now I’m going to be eating it every night at home when I can’t get to Louro. Every night, I said.
• bone marrow, mussels, red curry, crisps
This had the same flavor as a big hunk of steak but melted in my mouth even more.
• piri piri shrimp
My other favourite thing at Louro. The chili is so surprisingly spicy that I feel like its name is an onomatopoeia you might see in a comic book. “Piri piri!” the superhero shouts as he delivers a one-two punch to the villain’s gut. It somehow manages to not overwhelm the shrimp at the same time, though. It seems so simple, but it’s so simply perfect.
• smoked tomato soup, pork grilled cheese
I had made grilled cheese the night before for my roommate/landlord/former co-worker/boyfriend, so I asked him how mine compared to this one, and he had to very, very gently put me down.
• lobster larb salad, chopped lobster, bibb lettuce, thai dressing, cilantro, peanuts
I’m not sure what to think of this. The common thinking with lobster is that it should be broken down as little as possible, right? But we were Googling larb as we were looking at the menu, and it’s a minced meat salad that’s apparently the national dish of Laos. So I guess you either mince the lobster or you’re not making larb. This was super, super spicy and herbaceous.
• pork & beef ragu, anson mills polenta, Parmesan
Wish I had tried this.
• biscuits & gravy, soft poached duck egg, duck sausage, gravy
Really, really wish I had tried this.
• gnocchi Parisienne, cipollinis, wild mushrooms, Parmesan, thyme butter
I only tried one of these little pillows, but I’m convinced they were more gnudi than gnocchi. All cheese, not enough flour to even matter. Just how I like it.
• octopus bolognese: hand cut tagliatelle, goose pancetta, parmesan
It’s been on the Louro menu for as long as I can remember, and for good reason. It’s like beef bolognese but with a little chew from the octopus and then the deep flavor of the bacon as contrast.
• lobster lasagna
I love Chef Santos for throwing us a little extra lobster here and there, but most of us thought that this lasagna was so good on its own that the lobster didn’t even matter. Take THAT, ocean.
• kibby goat & falafel, cucumber, parsley, lemon mint cream
I actually met this dish one afternoon while taking pictures for the Louro website and haven’t stopped eating it since. The combination of the super-light cucumber and rich goat is too much for me to resist, and I could have the minty sauce on just about anything, including my own hand.
• The Hemingway: key lime curd, gingersnap crumble, vanilla ice cream, toasted meringue
I only tried a bit of the lime curd, and it was not shy about the lime.
• A Walk in the Woods: pine needle & porcini ice creams, pine nut puree, maple “dirt”, Maine blueberries
I needed to have this just for the pine needle ice cream, and it was everything I wanted it to be. i.e. like chewing on a forest. The maple dirt was crunchy and sweet and as if I’d stuck a tap on a crispy tree. I love that a restaurant that’s partly food the way your mama makes it can also put out a dish this wild.
All of the photos in context are here: http://www.donuts4dinner.com/2014/01/....
Photos in context are here: http://www.donuts4dinner.com/2013/03/...
My boyfriend and I have long had Bouley on our radar, but when we wanted to try a David Bouley restaurant, we went for his newer, Japanese kaiseki one, Brushstroke, and had a great experience. We’ve been trying to cover some new ground lately, though, and thought maybe it was time to pay respect to his eponymous restaurant that was so huge in the 80s and recently saw a facelift in the late 00s.
We booked dinner simply because we saw a reservation available on OpenTable, but as we looked into visiting, we wondered if we hadn’t made a very costly mistake. Dinner at Bouley is $175 for six courses, $280 with wine. Lunch is five courses for $55. So the darkness and that one extra course cost you $120. We thought about trying to switch to lunch. We thought about canceling our reservation completely after reading some of the unflattering reviews floating around the Internet. But we ultimately decided to go for the full dinner tasting menu and judge for ourselves, expectations appropriately set.
Bouley is opulent. It’s like a country home where everything has been coated in gold leaf. Heavy drapes, tall candles, fresh flowers everywhere. Wood, iron, vaulted ceilings. Bathrooms the size of most NYC apartments and laden with enough tapestry to dress every diner for life. Private dining rooms where every inch seems to be covered in red velvet. Even the picture frames are upholstered in purple velvet. And the foyer is lined from floor to ceiling with shelves of apples so that the room smells like an orchard.
• amuse: blue cheese foam, beets, pecans
Very beety, with plenty of blue cheese flavor and nutty sweetness.
• amuse: kuzu, black truffle, aligot
Japanese flatbread, truffle, potato and cheese sauce. Yes.
• fresh Malibu sea urchin terrine
On top of and inside this cold aspic (savory gelatin) was uni made extra sweet by broiling. The complex ocean flavor of this dish was balanced by the cream and caviar underneath.
• forager’s treasure of wild mushrooms, sweet garlic, special spices, grilled toro, black truffle dressing
If you knew me just a few years ago, the idea of my ordering an all-mushroom course would be hilarious to you. I remember being at Cafeteria in Chelsea one night on one of my first dates with my boyfriend and piling millimeter-long chips of mushroom from my risotto on one side of my bowl and hoping he wouldn’t notice. But ever since I had the wild mushroom salad with jalapeno puree at Momofuku Ko forced on me and found it one of the most unforgettable dishes of my life, I’ll give any mushroom a try.
These were sweet, a little spicy with something like cinnamon or nutmeg, and so umami with that Parmesan foam and black truffle. There were so many textures on the plate, including an entirely different one from the grilled tuna.
• bread service
The bread man with his cage full of fresh loaves came to our table and offered us slices of anything we wanted. The flavors were varied and interesting: saffron, sourdough, black currant, French onion. I loved how different and personal the service was.
• porcini flan, Alaska live dungeness crab, black truffle dashi
Our server described this as a chawanmushi, but all of the chawanmushis I’ve had have been thick, broth-less custards. This was more like a creamy crab soup with a broth flavored like yuzu and cardamom. They sure didn’t skimp on the crab, though.
• live Scottish langoustine, bay scallops, some sort of mango sauce
Sweet, with perfectly-cooked langoustine and scallops. The sauce was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. Maybe it could have been more spicy and salty for my taste, but it really let the natural flavors of the scallops and langoustine shine through.
• pistachio miso marinated fresh black cod
Flaky fish, smoky almond milk, and so much sweet ginger.
• Chatham day boat lobster, turnip, black truffle
Tender, buttery lobster with a crunchy black truffle julienne. I enjoyed the texture contrast between the slice of turnip on top and the puree underneath.
• Japanese true Kobe mille-feuille, toasted garlic, frisée, carrot, turmeric ($50 supplement)
We’ve had a lot of Kobe, a lot of Wagyu, and a lot of Kobe and Wagyu that were probably not actually Kobe and Wagyu, so we wanted to try this “true Kobe”. Just to be sure. We were both entirely underwhelmed. The point of eating a really good piece of beef for me is to cut through it and notice how tender it is, but with the way this was sliced so thin, any cut would have been tender. Although I liked the crunchy texture with the beef, the watery frisée completely diluted the taste of the Kobe. Having just had the much-better calotte de boeuf at Per Se last month, this was an unfortunate let-down, and one that came with a hefty price tag.
• organic Long Island duck, black Nevada dates, Hudson Valley organic hand milled polenta, Washington huckleberry
Delicious crispy skin aside, the star of this was the date “paper” spread on the bottom of the dish. When heated, it became like a sauce, and it formed such an interesting new flavor when eaten with the lima beans. I loved the black pepper chunks in the polenta and the buttery fingerling potatoes served on the side.
• white chocolate cloud, green tea foam
Light and fluffy on top, a little icy on the bottom, and milky throughout. When the server put this down, my boyfriend and I immediately went to work imagining how it was made, and when the woman next to us tried to ask her date the same thing, he said, “Let’s wait for our neighbors to figure it out.” Food nerds!
• tangerine, clementine, Mandarin parfait, lychee sorbet
This very sweet and lychee-ful sorbet made the accompanying fruits VERY tart. This was a complex dish that I secretly wanted to simplify by just eating a big, ol’ scoop of that delicious sorbet.
• chilled fall rhubarb soup, Santa Barbara organic strawberries, buckwheat gelato
Mmm, grain-flavored gelato. I wasn’t a huge fan of it on its own, but the creamy soup and strawberries (which were such a treat out of season) were so pleasant with it, and my boyfriend actually liked that it was like eating a field.
• tree ripened golden Hawaiian pineapple soufflé, pistachio melting core, 10 exotic flavor sorbet
Not a souffle in the molten cake sort of way but more like a meringue. “Pineapple egg foam”, we called it. So many things were good about this, from the warm pineapple chunks throughout to the sugar granules on the bottom to the unexpected pistachio core. The “10 exotic flavor sorbet” was really just two flavors for us: pineapple and yuzu. But it was very intense and delicious.
• hot Valrhona chocolate soufflé, white coffee cloud, coffee ice cream, chocolate mousse
This was the souffle I was expecting, with a liquid center and a little crunch to the exterior. I liked the semi-sweet mousse and the crumbled cookie crisp, but the coffee ice cream really made the dish.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Truthfully, the food at Bouley was only okay. It looks like it should have three Michelin stars, but it only has one, and the reviews about it wavering from delicious to just decent were spot-on. Date paper duck? Delicious. Kobe that should be pretty hard to not make amazing? Just decent. For the price, which is well above a lot of the better tasting menus in the city, I would either expect plenty of off-menu courses (think Eleven Madison Park, where you could almost make a meal of all of the amuses they bring you) or at the very least, much more complete courses; two langoustines and three bay scallops does not a complete dish make. This was the same complaint I had about the three-Michelin-starred Le Bernardin, though, so perhaps the protein with very little else is just the mark of a really French-y restaurant.
And yet, we left Bouley talking about what a great time it was. Despite not loving all of the food, we loved the experience of eating here. The decor is completely different than in any other fine dining room we’ve seen in NYC–not modern and simple but full and almost flamboyant. When I asked the sommelier, who was excellent, if I could take photos of the bottles, he said, “You SHOULD!” The guy on the bread cart joked with us every time he wheeled by, while the more serious servers would slide the food down in front of us, rattle off the ingredients in their French accents, and turn on a dime to go back and stand in their corners. It didn’t feel stuffy here, just professional and special. Maybe I’m not dying to go back for the food, but the overall dinner was something I’ll talk about.
Wish I could read your blog! I definitely liked my second visit to Corton even more than the first; glad to know you had the same experience.
So glad to know I've had your favourite beef dish!
Interesting! I can't remember ever having uni at Per Se. We had a similar bacon-wrapped rabbit that was soooo good.
I noticed a couple of similarities between what we had at Per Se this weekend and what we had at Corton the weekend before. I wonder if these guys are reading each other's menus.
So many memorable dishes! The calotte was outstanding, the foie gras with bananas was a strange and wonderful combination, and the lobster with radicchio was the right kind of bitter. My favourite dish of the day was the halibut, though, with a red pepper piperade and squid ink ravigote and fatty potatoes. I would definitely want it again.
I don't like olives, either! We thought our server said the cheese course had olives in it, but what looked like slivers of green olive turned out to be pear–weird. I need to look at the menu and figure out what we misheard.
Thank you! So glad to hear you love the food, too; I guess I'm not surprised when people complain that they don't understand it, but I'm disappointed for them. I totally agree about the pretzel bread and was happy to see it at Per Se this weekend, too; I hope to see it everywhere now!
Photos in context are here: http://www.donuts4dinner.com/2013/01/...
My boyfriend and I were looking for a tasting menu for dinner two weekends ago. We mentioned Corton and then moved past it, figuring that there’s a whole world of NYC restaurants we haven’t been to. For days, we mulled over Gramercy Tavern, Corton, Scarpetta, Corton, Ai Fiori, Corton, Aldea . . . and then we actually read the menu on Corton’s website. SOLD. “Wacked-out modernist cuisine”, my boyfriend calls it. With two much-deserved Michelin stars to boot.
This is the $155 tasting menu with wine pairings also at $155:
• arugula Gorgonzola cake
Soft and slightly bitter, with a kick of blue cheese.
• lemongrass tuile and some fried balls of something
The tuile tasted like Froot Loops, and we seem to think the fried balls were cheesy, but don’t make this your sole reason for making a reservation just in case I’m wrong. They were served alongside a homemade XO sauce, and we love XO, but the fried ball was sadly the wrong vessel for the sauce, and I didn’t get the flavor of it at all.
• pretzel and candied chestnut brioche
Pretzels in the bread basket make me swoon. So did the candied square of chestnut at the center of this roll.
• black bean chawanmushi, confit citrus
There was about an eighth of an inch of custard in this pot, but it packed a salty flavor punch with notes of bacon and leafy greens. The confit citrus peel was a deliiiiicious crunchy addition. Black bean and orange–who knew?
• black truffle: classic foie gras and black truffle spiral, toasted buckwheat, kombu toffee
I love how the menu calls this a “classic foie gras and black truffle spiral”. I’ve never seen anything remotely resembling it before. The foie torchon (so smooth, so creamy) was surrounded by a gelee layer of black truffle that was unfortunately overpowered by the flavor of the liver, but the dish overall was really nice and really savory. For someone who likes the flavor of mushrooms but thinks they’re kind of weird-looking and weird-feeling, this completely homogenous sauce-like preparation was perfect, and the apple sliver and crisp kombu (kelp) strip added the necessary crunch. A scoop of radish added brightness and sourness. The toasted buckwheat roll on the side was perfectly soft on the inside but provided enough structure to make a great foie vessel.
• spirit of sweet potato: sweet potato gnocchi, pumpkin seeds, warm Serrano ham consomme
The juxtaposition between the rich potato gnocchi and ham consomme and the fresh leaves and tiny romanesco (prettiest vegetable ever, right?) made this a much more complex dish than I expected at first glance. The egg nestled next to the gnocchi broke to spread a single drop of balsamic, making the consomme even richer.
• smoke and winter: flavors of smoke and winter–smoked cod cheek, smoked mackerel, ricotta whey, whole grain mustard and hazelnut, green olive paste
I was excited to try my first cod cheek (foreground), but the sliver of smoked mackerel (background) was actually more flavorful and more tender. This wasn’t the first fish in whey I’ve had recently, and I still love the tenderness and simplicity it lends to a seafood dish. I also liked the crunchy whole-grain mustard and the meringue-like texture of the triangular black . . . thing.
• kalamansi mandarin mochi, Persian lime
This little sweet and sour ball was delivered in a box dotted with ripe calamansi (sour citrus) fruits. I almost didn’t expect it to be sweet, coming so soon in the meal, but it was a whirl of orange-y, lime-y, yuzu-y ice cream wrapped in a mochi skin. I loved the little speck of gold leaf, because I am a glutton for luxury.
• Atlantic turbot, fine mousseline of white pine and black truffle, delicate puree of Winesap apple and pine, bergamot paste, creamy veloute of chestnut and mussel
Wonderfully gelatinous charred turbot belly (foreground right), a curry-like sauce, sweet apple gel, a tender mussel, cabbage stuffed with chopped chestnut and resembling a little brain (background left), a tiny caterpillar-like cylinder of something crunchy like a radish (background right). The “tarte rouge” served on the side was like a side salad with fresh beets and radishes and a cracker instead of croutons. The yuzu cream on the edge of the plate–heaven.
This dish was a huge mishmash of textures and sour and bitter flavors. I’m not sure how composed you can call a dish with so many elements, but I’m not sure I care about composition when everything is so delicious and interesting.
• buckwheat soup dumpling with oxtail, truffle, sweet bread
I’ve had a soup dumpling or two hundred in my time in NYC, but this sour-rich-deep-dark one was completely new to me. We debated about whether the oxtail, truffle, and sweetbreads were all necessary since none of those specific flavors came through, but we decided that the dumpling wouldn’t have tasted the same without each one of them, that the overall outcome was more important than the presence of individual ingredients. My boyfriend said it reminded him of a Persian beef stew with Persian lime.
Also: gold leaf.
• calotte de boeuf cooked in black birch, slow-cooked oxtail, turnip and white miso puree
Apparently the calotte de boeuf is the meat that forms that cap of a prime rib. This is either the best part of the cow or the part that butchers throw away, depending on which blog Google directs you to. Apparently this cut is sometimes called deckle but is different than the deckle used in pastrami. I’m confused. But I’m not confused about how totally tasty, totally homey, totally sausage-y this calotte was–completely at odds with the sour black miso and onion served on the side. I loved the tender artichoke slice (foreground right), but the best part of the dish was the little chilled cube of gelatinous tea (background left). Something about how delicious it was just sent me over the edge, and I had to stop eating for a second to keep from crying. WHAT.
• tartare de boeuf, delicate gelee of beef shin, green mango, hazelnut cream
Served on the side of the calotte was this tartare with chive and onion flavors and that sweet and fatty gelee underneath. The “bread” was a puffed beef tendon similar to the one we saw at wd~50 a few months ago. It’s like a packing peanut covered in movie popcorn butter. This one wasn’t as buttery as theirs, but I was happy to see it on another dish at all.
• Salers raw cow’s milk cheese from the Auvergne region in France, lemon date gelee, sable of Malabar pepper
“These cows graze on shoots”, our server told us, “so it’s a very floral cheese.” What he meant was that this was going to taste like a really stanky barnyard. Luckily, it was diluted by the sweet fig and Malabar (Indian) spice-covered bread sliver that reminded us of gingerbread. The gelee was unfortunately unflavored, but overall, I thought it a well-composed dish.
• tarte a l’orange: blood orange tart, blood orange sorbet, blood orange dentil
This blood orange sorbet tasted like the white Smarties candies. My boyfriend observed this with his extra-attuned palate, and he was entirely correct. The tart was like an old-fashioned cream pie with a pink iridescent top, and the sorbet was almost too sour for how tame the flavor of the pie was, but both were delicious in their own right. They also made our glasses of Sauternes taste herbal. I can’t find any information about what a culinary dentil is that doesn’t involve Chef Paul Liebrandt, but its traditional definition calls it an architectural detail, so maybe the delicate slice of blood orange candy garnishing the sorbet is the architectural detail on this dessert in Chef Liebrandt’s eyes.
Also: gold leaf.
• fig: cremeux of Mast Brothers Moho River Chocolate, black mission fig ice cream, tarragon gelee
There was again no discernible flavor to this gelee, but the creamy dark Brooklyn chocolate with notes of peanut butter made up for that in spades. I loved the texture of the seeds in the fig and the fact that it was cold.
Also: gold leaf.
• mulled wine pate de fruits
Just as bursting with flavor as you want them to be.
Is anything more seemingly-boring and yet actually-delicious than nougat? It was so good that I got distracted and have no idea what the pastry was. But I do know that the chocolate on top is Chef Liebrandt’s initials.
• banana and gingerbread French macarons
• assorted chocolates
Included a grapefruit one that we both agreed was straight-up gross, and I say that as someone who simply loves grapefruit. Luckily, I had saved the salty caramel one for last and made up for it.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Even as someone who has given Corton a perfect rating both times I’ve visited, I can see why the reviews of it include extreme highs and extreme lows. It has, for instance, only three and a half out of five stars on Yelp but also two out of three Michelin stars on a list that only includes about fifty New York City restaurants. The “problem” with Corton is two-fold:
1) There are a LOT of ingredients on the plate. You can rarely taste all of them, which leads you to question how necessary they are.
2) The portions are extremely small. It’s not a matter of my being a glutton, because I always leave Corton satisfied with plenty of dessert left on the table. The problem is that I want to taste each element on its own and with the other elements on the plate. This just isn’t possible when there’s one bite of smoked mackerel, one petal of artichoke, a piece of turbot belly that isn’t even equal to a single forkful. Once you taste it, it’s gone. I think this could come off as too precious to someone who doesn’t have patience for rarefied food.
Despite these complaints, the overall effect of the dishes at Corton is still, for me, sheer bliss. To me, the preciousness feels special, not stupid. Because there’s so little of everything, every single bite has to be perfect. And I haven’t been anywhere in NYC that’s making this kind of tiny-yet-hugely-thoughtful food. But let me know if you do, because my life is pretty low on five-star dinners at the moment.
I went last night, and they weren't making the pot pie! So sad I didn't call ahead and happened to go on the one night they were taking off. Luckily, the lobster roll was killer.
Skip Brooklyn Fare if you want the service to match the price. They make you pay ahead of time, the dress code is strict despite the very casual setting, the seats are uncomfortable, and the chef won't answer any of your questions about the cuisine.
Momofuku Ko serves amazingly delicious and inventive food in a super hip environment. Per Se serves amazingly delicious food in a super luxurious environment. Nothing else is remotely as good as those two in my experience.
Great idea. MenuPages seems to think there are at least 11 lobster pot pies being served in the city. And they will be mine.
Thanks for the heads-up! I'm a pot pie fiend and have been wanting to do a pot pie feature on my blog. Thinking this would be an amazing one to start with.
Thank you so much!
I'm going to print out twenty-two copies of this comment and hang it all around my apartment for all of the times I feel down on myself about my photography. Officially in love with you.
Photos in context are here: http://www.donuts4dinner.com/2013/01/...
When I wrote in my Torrisi Italian Specialties review that Italian food in NYC is terrible, bland, and uninspired, the good people of Chowhound went crazy, telling me that I didn’t know what I was talking about if I hadn’t been to Del Posto, the Joe Bastianich/Lidia Bastianich/Mario Batali behemoth with one Michelin star.
So in the name of knowing what I’m talking about, my boyfriend took me there for the $165, eight-course Captain’s Menu for a tasting of Chef Mark Ladner’s finest. Our first impression was that the place was gigantic and cavernous, decorated in dark, heavy fabrics that made it seem like the perfect setting for cigar smoking, back door dealing, and hiding mistresses from wives. The staff was friendly despite the ominous feel, we were seated at the most perfect banquette that allowed for plenty of people-watching, and our server treated me like I was the first blogger to have ever entered the place once she saw my camera. Likewise, the sommelier kept talking up the special bottles he was opening up for us and even introduced us to this new contraption called a corovan or coravan or cordovan that separates the cork from the wine bottle without puncturing it so that the wine can be enjoyed without fully opening the bottle; he said that it was invented by a heart surgeon and that Del Posto is the only restaurant on the East coast to have one. Ooh-la-la.
Now, on to the food!
Cauliflower and leek vellutata in the little cups
• wine: Ca’ Del Bosco, Franciacorta, Erbusco
secondi assaggi (second samples):
• tuna wrapped in daikon, jalapeno, sea salt
• chickpea, black truffle, lemon
Like eating truffle hummus.
• fried mozzarella with tomato powder
A beautifully diverse bread basket that was replaced halfway through the meal when it became cold. Our server also switched out our napkins at that point, which I loved.
• lardo and sweet cream butter
For the bread. In case you thought it was just for spooning.
• wine: Paolo Bea “Arboreus” 2008 Umbria
• insalata di verdue, robiola, swiss chard, sour apple
They call this vegetable salad brutte ma buone–ugly but good. I didn’t even think it was ugly, but it certainly was good. The sugary carrot cake crumble under this was almost candy-like and really worked with the super-acidic apple cider vinaigrette. The dressing was so sour that I felt like I was choking when I encountered too much of it resting in a little cup formed by the curve of an onion slice, in fact. But hey, what’s a little choking amongst friends?
• wine: Gravner Ribolla Gialla “Anfora” 2004 Friuli
• fluke, chestnut due, shallots, watercress, truffles, trumpet mushrooms
The many crunchy elements–watercress, water chestnuts, black trumpet mushrooms–made the dish what it was. I’ve never cared at all for watercress, but it was welcome and almost necessary here to add just a touch of freshness. This was also the first time in a long time that I’ve thought truffles really added something more than just an extra $50 to the bill. All in all, I think this was my favourite of the night, and I say this as someone who still totally thinks of fish as poo-drinkers.
• wine: Aldo Conterno Barolo 2007 Piemonte
• tortello puzzone, taleggio dolce, black truffle butter
I think the name of this dish literally translates to stinky tortello, which is entirely correct. I’m not used to such a strong cheese in my ravioli, so the juxtaposition between the creeeeeamy, buuuuuttery texture of the cheese gushing from the broken tortello and its pungent taste was intense. In a good way.
• wine: Scarzello Barbera d’Alba 2008 Piemonte
• orecchiette, lamb neck ragu, orange carrots, toasted rye
My boyfriend thought this was a little too one-note, especially following a dish that really was quite simple, but I actually found it complex with plenty of depth of flavor. The pasta was of course cooked perfectly, and then the spicy lamb sauce so complemented the sweet dollops of carrot puree and the dark, rich rye crumble.
• wine: Maine Beer Co. “Peeper” American Ale, Portland, ME
• cacciucco (fish soup), diver scallops carpaccio, garlic bread soup
A plate of assorted sea creatures arrived, a broth was poured over them, and the result was a seafood soup with tons of garlic and super-bright, super-acidic tomato flavor. The tender seafood was complimented so nicely by the citrusy marjoram in the broth.
• wine: Fontodi ‘Vigna del Sorbo’ Chianti Classico Riserva 2000 Toscana
• veal and beef, cosa viene prima, potato torta, soft spinach, Calabrian spicy tongue stew
A veal medallion surrounded by beef deckle was placed in front of each of us, and then a ragu of tongue was added tableside. I was more excited about this dish than any of the others because of its familiar beefiness, but the lack of seasoning on it was a real letdown; both the veal and potato torta seemed to be entirely lacking salt. However, the deckle (fatty brisket) was perfectly seasoned and perfectly crusted, and the tongue stew was both tender and spicy. Cosa viene prima translates to “what comes first”, which I took as a play on the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg–or in this case, the baby veal or the adult beef.
• wine: Chartreuse
I had never had Chartreuse before this. It’s a monk-made herbal liquor from France, and it made my mouth pucker worse than any lemon ever could. It’s interesting. And beautiful. And vegetal.
• sfera di caprino (sphere of Caprino cheese), celery, fig agrodolce, celery sorbetto
This was like a cheesecake rolled in thick, crispy breadcrumbs, paired with the most celery-flavored and refreshing sorbet and a fig dried as sweet as a raisin.
• wine: Marion Valpolicella Superiore 2007 Veneto
• warmed La Tur, charred bread, chocolate
This was Del Posto’s take on s’mores, and while it seemed simplistic to me at first, I thought it was a really nice take on a cheese course in the end. The La Tur was really funky, but the sweetness of the chocolate balanced it so nicely, and their flavors were so complimentary. I always love the difference in flavor between raw cheese and melted, so I was pleased to find this gave me an idea of both states of a La Tur.
• wine: “10 Anni,” Marsala Superiore Riserva, Marco de Bartoli NV
• butterscotch semifreddo, melon agrumata (citrus), crumbled sbrisolona (cake)
This semifreddo was like a thick, rich, brightly sweet dulce de leche with a crunchy crumble. I thought the fruits on the side seemed like such a weird, uncomplimentary addition, but I actually loved them–particularly the melon. And I’m not a person who cares about melon.
• torta di zucca (pumpkin pie), candied pumpkin, sage gelato
My boyfriend got the raw end of the deal with this course. Instead of the semifreddo, he was served this pumpkin cake that was a little too dry, a little too simple, a little too not-at-all pumpkin-flavored. The sage gelato, on the other hand, was so overwhelmingly sage-y that I didn’t care much for it, either. It sure was pretty, though.
• chocolate sculpture
To end the meal, our server brought a drawer full of small bites, this chocolate sculpture, a cookie jar, and a plate with a giant almond cookie on it. She held the cookie up to show how delicate it was while my boyfriend and I secretly thought, “Why are you touching our cookie?” She explained to us that this type of cookie is commonly passed around the table after a family meal so each person can take a piece for dessert. The Del Posto version of this involved our server smashing the cookie down on top of the cookie jar so that cookie chunks went all over the table. It was quite the spectacle. And quite the delicious, crisp cookie.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Del Posto was solid on all fronts, from food to decor to service. It’s clear why the restaurant has a Michelin star, and it’s clear that the staff are working hard to make it a destination, a place where you can expect a special bottle of wine to be opened for your special dinner. If this was an up and coming restaurant, I’d bump it up half a star, but I expected a little more wow from the food of the Bastianiches and Batali; I didn’t feel creative boundaries being pushed here, and I realize that’s probably because the restaurant is known amongst out-of-towners who don’t want any surprises, just traditionally good food. The better choice for dinner here for us probably would have been the five-course menu, which focuses more on pasta–the thing Del Posto is doing so well. I think this is the sort of place you only have to go to once to get the full experience, and I’m happy to have had mine.