Yes. It's That Good.
OK, I can see where some people have problems with the room. If you thin the 80's glitter of the decor will detract from your dining experience, request a table next to the open kitchen -- you'll be too dazzled by the culinary showmanship taking place 10 feet from your table to worry about whether there are too many mirrors on the column. (btw, there are too many mirrors on the column, but even heaven's got to have it's little faux pas...)
Re. the open kitchen, I don't see how anyone could not love this. It's like being at a sushi bar with 30 chefs. It's like getting theater and dinner for the price of one. It's like front-row seats at The Iron Chef. (OK, I guess I've flogged that souffle to death...)
- A vegetable somosa amuse bouche that was so scrumptious I wished in one bite that Gray Kunz would open an Indian restaurant.
- Mushroom risotto - mushrooms arrive in signature metal (pewter?) container with jolly figurine on top. Some mushrooms are dished over the risotto by a staff member, the rest are kept warm in the covered dish while you dig into the risotto. Savor it. Take your time. The mushrooms will stay warm. This was the best tasting risotto I think I've ever had. In terms of consistency, it could have been a little softer, but the taste was unsurpassed.
- Yellowtail app - Also fantastic. Less mindblowing for me than the risotto, but delicious in its own right. Stands up to anything I've had at sushi shops around town. The American caviar on top of the yellowtail added a nicely unusual element. I'm not sure which roe those were, but they were definitely different from the standard salmon or flying fish roe served in Japanese restaurants. I love Japanese food, but so many French restaurants steal wholesale from the Japanese repertoire (sp?) that it's nice to find a chef actually taking the trouble to seek out other flavors that make interesting combinations and surprise your palate.
- Short ribs main course - Probably the best I've ever had. My girlfriend floated away (with the short ribs).
- Fluke main course - An excellent piece of fish. Probably the best fluke I've ever had (which OK isn't saying that much, because I rarely eat fluke...). The fish had a delicious flavor, a firmer texture than usual, a nice crispy coating (puffed rice) with candied citrus (lemon? orange?) on top. I wasn't sure the citrus was going to work, but it did in spades. The creamed spinach underneath the fish was an excellent rendition of that dish and contained fascinating smoky undertones.
- Dessert - Shared a chocolate marquise with citrus scattered about. The citrus was salted - again a nice touch that was unexpected, but delicious. I'm not sure I've ever had a marquise before (does that mark me an oaf?), but this one was magnifique.
All the little touches through dinner were perfect - well-mixed and tasty cocktails (not too strong on the alcohol, which is the way I like them though others might prefer otherwise); excellent, unobtrusive and relaxed service; delicious bread served warm in charming loaves with classy tubs of butter; a manager who took our dessert order when our main waiter was busy; charming support staff who filled water frequently and cleared dishes with aplomb; a professional cooking staff that worked hard, but looked like they were having a ball doing their job; and two plates of petit-fours (the second plate materialized when one of the busboys saw us enjoying our first plate so much and the bill was a little bit delayed in arriving at our table).
Thank you Gray Kunz for opening another NY kitchen!! This restaurant has single-handedly renewed my faith in the power of high-end cooking to make the spirit soar and refresh the soul.
Go now and support this noble enterprise. This is what fine Chow is all about.