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Restaurants & Bars 2

Langers and Valentino Yesterday

TomSwift | Aug 6, 200412:39 PM

To celebrate our anniversary yesterday we decided to have a little 10:00 brunch at Langers. We sat at the counter and ordered our pastramis on rye (no No. 19 for us) hand-cut. This may be of interest to those in the "Langers hand-cut question" thread below: the waitress wrote "hand-cut" on the check and, as we were sitting right in front of the guy making the sandwiches (the big guy with the San Diego Chargers cap), we heard her tell him "hand-cut" when she gave him the check. Does that mean that you only get hand-cut if you request it? Who knows. In any event, the superlatives need not be repeated again. Superb sandwiches in every way. And wonderfully crunchy "new" pickles. $9.74 each, including seconds on the pickles.

Not being full enough, we headed over to Valentino for the Primi Tasting Menu I'd ordered a few days ago. We arrived at 6:15 and left, pleasantly too full but not nearly as painfully stuffed as at the Spago tasting lunch a while ago, a little past 11:00. We had booth No. 1 in the main dining room, which is large enough for 4 but like an intimate little foxhole for 2. The service was, with one trivial exception, flawless (Mrs. Swift's iced tea was not refilled until half-way through the meal despite being almost empty). Our headwaiter, Guisseppi, brought over most courses and Piero did a couple. As this was an anniversary celebration and not a research project, our notes were somewhat skimpy. Here's the lineup:
Frico (the delicious fried cheese)
Eggplant Tartare
Sauteed Fluke with black truffles
Roasted Sicilian sea bass with sundried tomato
confit and olive infusion

Seared foie gras with fresh figs
Hand-made tubular pasta (the same as at the Hound
lunch) with sea urchin reduction
Gorgonzola risotto with black truffles
Crispy veal sweetbreads with champaigne sauce
Roast double pork chop with cherries and radiccio
Apricot sorbet
Four cheese plate with preserved figs
Chocolate ice cream (other worldly rich) with
fruit in a chocolate soup

We did the wine pairing, all complimentary to their respective courses but no real knockouts. Without exception a tremendous evening. Woo is correct that Valentino is really two restaurants, one is printed on the menu and the other is in the brain of the kitchen. I definately fall into the camp of those on this board who praise Valentino. The printed menu is very good but the kitchen's brain is exceptional.

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