Hello fellow chowhounders,
First, for those unfortunate few who had suffered Nota Bene's inconsistent service. Based on our experience last night, I guess management must have heeded your advise and the corner has been turned. Despite a packed Saturday evening crowd, the service we received was top notch. Friendly, attentive and smooth. Timing for water refill, removal of old cutleries and plates and their replacements etc was spot on.
Now for the food. The two of us ordered 3 appertizers, 2 entrees and 2 desserts. They were;
- Ocean trout sashimi. IMO, the high light of the evening. The fish was ultra-fresh and sweet. The dressing was heavenly, with perfect harmonious balance of the sweet, tangy and oily components. Just like a fine sweet dessert wine. The dish reminds me of a similar one I had at Sushi Kaji. In Kaji's case, Bonito, Mirin, Yozu and Sesame oil were the main ingredients. However, David Lee's creation was by-far more delicious!
- Nova Scotia Lobster Salad. An interesting variation of the classic Cobb salad. A very pleasing dish. I was surprised that the most attractive part wasn't the big chunks of succulent lobsters but the irresistable accompanying strips of Maple bacon! Man, I could have munched on them the whole night! But then I guess I would also need an ambulance to take me to nearby Mt Sanai Hospital afterwards!
- Grilled Octopus and Rapini. Another nice dish but a bit 'underseasoned'. A little sprinkle of sea salt would certainly help to kick the octopus up a notch. However, compare to a similar dish I had at Mario Batali's Michelin 1*- Babbo a few months back, the Babbor's version was totally lacking in taste, tough and over-charred'. whilst Nota Bene's morsels were much more tender and perfectly cooked. Thumbs up for the 'no-star'!
- Seared Yellow-Fin Tuna. Once again, the fish was ultra-fresh but the dish on the whole was a bit dissappointing. The ground pepper crust was a bit over-whelming whilst the fish itself a bit bland. A drizzle of some form of 'seasoned oil/dressing' might be needed. IMO, the condiments are not enough to spark the dish.
- Suckling pig and Boudin Noir tart. A glorified ' French gourmet pizza '?!. This dish was raved by every CH who tasted it but also received lots of complaints due to its too 'rich' nature. How to make this delicious dish more balanced will be a nice challenge for Chef Lee! May be offer half portion as an appertizer? That way, I would have room to order one more extra entree!
- Bread pudding dessert. All I can say is, if it wasn't for the fact that I was stuffed ( mainly due to the afore mentioned tart ), I would have ordered another one or two or three...Ha!! Its that delicious!
- Apple crumble with apple cider and ice cream. Nothing special, however, at $10, a slightly bigger portion is warranted, IMO.
Overall, though a bit noisy due to the packed crowd, the evening had been most enjoyable. Both decor and service was great. Food was delicious with only a bit of a slip-up that can easily be corrected. I look forward to my next visit! Hope the seared scallops and the braised ribs are still available on the menu.