Thanks to all the 'hounds who gave me restaurant suggestions for my trip to NY last weekend. For a variety of reasons, including cost, menu, location, mood, I chose Blue Hill over Gotham, Grammercy and Cafe Boulud. Having not been to the others, I can't say how it compares these days, but I'm happy to report that we had a wonderful meal at Blue Hill on Sunday 10/14.
The meal began with a "gift from the chef" which was two spoons, literally, with a morsel of smoked fish salad in a green tomato marmelade. I don't know what the fish was, and I'm not sure they said, but for an opening taste it had fine texture, wonderful tang from the tomato relish and just a hint of smoke.
I had the tasting menu ($65) and my wife ordered from the regular menu, so we had a lot of things to try.
My first course was a delectable cured salmon belly in lemon oil with a garnish of finely shredded zuchini. The cured (not smoked!) fish melted in the mouth, firm and moist with a hint of lemon from the oil.
My wife ordered their signature crab ravioli. This was a supurb appetizer. Two wafer thin homemade noodles surrounded fresh crabmeat, perfectly textured and flavorful, and accompanied by mussels and a grain mustard sauce.
My second course was three small strips of yellowfin tuna barely seared over a bed of shredded apples and cabbage (I forget exactly whether it was cabbage, I'll have to check my notes) and dried ginger. Also wonderful--the different flavors surprised and complemented at the same time.
My third course was a succulent dish of lobster (one claw and one tail) served over diced beets in a sauce of beets and horseradish. Visually this dish was extraordinary. The white of the horseradish sauce framed the darked juices of the beets and lobster claw piled artfully on top of the tail, with a garnish of hmmm, maybe lemongrass(?) gave me sufficient reason to pause and appreciate the dish before devouring it.
My wife had the poached duck in a stew of purple, red and orange carrots with chanterelle mushrooms and lime. She ordered it sans mushrooms, so I can't say exactly how this dish should be. The duck itself was without question the best I've ever tasted. Ample portion of sliced breast meat was served rare, and like a fine sashimi, was effortless to eat. Never a more tender duck have I had the pleasure of eating. In truth, the accompaniments did not blow me away (perhaps the lack of chanterelles?) but this was a dish for simply enjoying a perfectly cooked duck.
Moving on to deserts, my wife had their apple mille feuille, which is difficult to describe. Usually I can figure out how something is prepared, and I have no clue. Mille feuille, I believe, means a thousand sheets, which implies a "napolean" but it wasn't. All I can say was it was a desert of apples baked and pressed into a pudding square about the size of a brownie, served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
I enjoyed a berry soup which despite the lateness of the year was still refreshing and flavorful. Lastly, the menu included their chocolate bread pudding served warm with a taste of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sorbet. Thick without being heavy, sweet without being sugary, this was a fine conclusion to the fine meal.
Although Dan Barber is still running the show, I understand the kitchen is primarily overseen these days by Michael Anthony, late of Daniel and March. He was cooking the night I joined them, and I found the kitchen to be in able hands.
Thanks again for the suggestions. If any of you are visiting D.C., I'll be thrilled to share what I know here.