My boyfriend and I went to Daniel last Friday -- what an amazing experience! We arrived about 10 minutes early and were seated immediately. The waiters were quick to offer us refreshments and bring out a few canapés: goat cheese on parmesan toasts, mushroom gratin, sweet potato soup shots, sardine with eggplant caviar. They were all delicious!
After they brought over the menus, we saw that you could order a 3-course or 6-course meal. We had read online that they offered an 8-course tasting menu and, since we were celebrating an anniversary, had thought we might like to do that. My boyfriend asked one of the waiters if they still had this as an option. While it's not on the traditional menu, upon request they will do a "surprise" tasting menu! We gladly accepted this offer and insisted on wine pairings. We were asked if we had any dietary restrictions, they took our menus, and each course we had was a surprise!
In the beginning of the meal I had asked if I could get a copy of our menu to take home with me. Their printer wasn't working for some reason, but they were nice enough to e-mail me a copy of our courses (including wine).
I should note that for all of the 8-courses except for 1, my boyfriend and I received separate, unique meals.
Course 1: Pistachio crusted duck foie gras terrine with blood orange, fennel bavarois, arugla salad
Rabbit mosaic with foie gras and prunes, pickled turnips, "huille d'amandon", tarragon mustard (Wine: Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey, Sauternes 2000)
The second foie was our favorite. So creamy and such an intense flavor from the rabbit!
Course 2: Poached carolina shrimp with basil pistou, herb salad, thyme croutons, fennel, dried tomato
Tasting of sea scallops: ceviche with wellfeet oyster and uni, tartar with caviar d'Aquitaine, sashimi with yuzu and seaweed (Wine: Palliser, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand 2005)
Course 3: Maine lobster gratiné with tarragon sabayon, tapioca, vegetable "pearls", coral-sauce américaine (this literally melted in my mouth)
Rosemary skewered Scottish langoustines and bay scallops, blood orange, creamy polenta, shaved fennel (Wine: Chassagne-Montrachet, La Boudriotte, Gagnard-Delagrange 2002)
Course 4: Bacon crusted monkfish, creamy yukon gold, trumpet royale, parsley-brown butter jus (Wine: Beaune 1er Cru Chouacheux, Louis Jadot 2005)
Amazing tableside presentation for the monkfish! They brought out a huge table and split this course for us, finished with pouring of the sauce and everything! Out of this world.
Course 5: Canard a l'orange, cara cara lacquered breast with watermelon radishes, crispy leg with foie gras, wilted spinach (Some of the best duck I've ever had!)
Four story hill farm chicken with morel cream, white asparagus from provence, fiddlehead ferns (Wine: Barbaresco "Nubiola", Pelissero, Piedmont, Italy 2004)
My boyfriend will never look at chicken the same way again. It was by far the best chicken dish he'd ever been served. Who knew chicken could taste THAT good?
Course 6: Duo of dry aged beef: red wine braised short ribs with beets, horseradish, seared rib eye with parsnip-rutabaga gratin (Again, everything just melted in my mouth).
Roasted Lamb with blue cheese-spinach "subric", shallot confit in red wine, chanterelles (Wine: Chatueau du tertre, Margaux, 1999)
Course 7: Fruit and sorbet tasting: one dish had coconut and pineapple, the other had grapefruit (sorry I can't be more specific.. this wasn't listed on our menu!)
(Wine: Tokaji Late Harvest, "Cuvée Classic", Tokaj Classic, Hungary 2003)
They also brought out a special "Happy anniversary" plate with their raspberry-lemon vacherin with thai basi, meringue, and raspberry marshmellows
Course 8: CHOCOLATE. Some of the best chocolate desserts we've had.
(No wine. Coffee.)
At this point, we were begging them to stop bringing out food. It didn't end there. We were brought a selection of truffles and candied desserts, fresh, right out of the oven madeleine cookies, and perhaps the highlight of the evening for me:
a tour of Daniel's kitchen!! I'm a big foodie, I love to cook, and being able to go behind the scenes and see where all the magic happens was unbelievable. We also learned that their is a private room that overlooks the kitchen where you can reserve your meal! Who knew? You can actually watch the chefs in action as they prepare meals for the entire restaurant. Definitely need to try that next time.
All of our food was phenomenal, the staff went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable and enjoying every minute of our meal. One of the best things about Daniel is they didn't treat us differently because we're so young (21 and 23). A lot of times at nice restaurants it feels stuffy and pretentious. It was not like that at all here. We felt like royalty! When compared to our meal at Per Se last year, we'd have to say the overall experience was better at Daniel.
If you haven't gone, make reservations NOW. (One month notice needed.)