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Restaurants & Bars 1

Bastide - experiments gone wrong (mostly)

Tuck | Nov 29, 200512:07 AM

I went to Bastide a couple of weekends ago for my birthday and was not sure what to feel based on reviews I had read on this board. I left feeling as confused as before I ate there. I am a big fan of experimental cuisine, so my mind and stomach were fully open for this experience. Service was 99% on target, faltering on only 2 occasions.

The amuse of fois gras lollipops, curry croquettes, and deconstructed Bloody Mary. The chocolate souffle is almost as good as the one at L'Orangerie. The chicken dish (I don't remember the name because it was really long) was almost excellent. It consisted of two moist, tender towers of chicken breast topped with a mushroom-based sauce and accompanied by a quenelle of finely shredded various mushrooms. It was far better than my explanation of it. The "almost excellent" part comes from the last 2 accoutrements - a bitter red grapefruit slice topped with what tasted like a lemon sable cookie. Those 2 things had no place being on that dish and really did not lend anything favorable to the other ingredients.

This is my main complaint about Bastide. Lefebvre seems to be trying too hard to be like the other notable experimenters in the culinary world (Adria, all of mentees, and the team of Dufresne and Mason from WD-50 in NY). Some things worked (deconstructed Bloody Mary), many things did not - the grapefruit, sushi rice ice cream (served with an excellent sashimi dish. The ice cream tasted of nothing definable and lent only sweetness and should have been left off of the dish), and most of the desserts. I ordered the dessert tasting (since it was my birthday and all :P) and actually wound up wasting most of the desserts (something unheard of when I dine). A pineapple, coconut, jalapeno, tapioca soup came out first. I didn't understand a lot of that one. Everything separate made sense; everything together did not. I can't even explain it. Second was a 4 or 6-hour baked apple "cake" which was just many layers of baked apple slices chilled. It was refreshing but that's it. Both the spun sugar and saffron ice cream served with it tasted like tap water! What a skill! (or not). The souffle was the only really good dessert. The others I would never wish to try again. It actually felt like 6 courses of torture. Bacon creme brulee (applause for getting it to taste so much like bacon, but that's it); tempura date (why would you want to batter and deep fry a date?); tiny parma crisps with marmalade (I love the crisps sans cloying marmalade); panna cotta with caramel and caviar (I understand the combination of salt with caramel, but the fishiness of the caviar killed it. I scooped off the caviar, ate that, and left the rest.)

The breads were excellent (try the warm cheese roll if you go) as were the Champagnes.

Overall, Bastide did serve as an interesting and memorable dining experience but for the cost (it is not a cheap adventure), I think I would fly back to NY and dine at WD-50 where 98% of the experiments work.

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