i'm a big fan of going to fancy restaurants to eat at the bar. weekday, before 7. this way i almost never need a reservation. usually no waiting. and for most places, the food and service are almost just as good - just much less expensive.
saw some hound posts about their sea urchin panna cotta. being the uni fan thought i had to give this a try.
sadly, yesterday they sold out the item. they say it's very rare. bad luck
apart from that though, basically everything was good from start to finish. very bold and lots of flavor.
cocktails - they recommended the french martini, which was surprisingly well done. just the right amount of pineapple juice and chambord. very refreshing. algonquin and perfect manhattan were also done well.
amuse bouche - even at the bar they gave these to us for free. the blue cheese panna cotta was excellent. house cured salmon on beet was good but less memorable.
trio of tasting - a $20 sampler of 3 small things. with help from the guy at the bar we picked the cheese tempura, foie gras explosion, and chips with salt cod paste. the first was a very clever thing. melting manchego in tempura. with an interesting basil dipping sauce. foie exploision was like ravioli with liquid foie in it. very good but that's what you'd expect. salt cod was most memorable for me. usually they're too salty. this one was too but it has as much fish flavor.
farm egg with peekytoe crab meat. another excellent dish. someone squeamish and critical may complain about the raw-ish egg white. i have no problem with that at all. the crab meat has enough flavor from the sea. worked well with the interestingly prepared veg. overall excellent. very fresh and well balanced.
wild mushroom risotto - probably the weaker dish. risotto done well. lots of flavor. the cheese. the broth. but for me a little too salty. don't get me wrong. it's still good. just a tad dominated by the saltiness.
squarb - deboned and very pink piece of squarb meat. excellent flavor and texture. if you're afraid of eating raw-ish bird, forget about it. they said it's not underdone, i actually think it was. but i like it this way anyway.
foie gras in sweet and sour broth - this is one of the advantages of ordering small plates at the bar. if i'm sitting down for an ordinary full meal there's no way i'm ordering this. sweet and sour sounds too risky. but ok. a $15 smal plate. i'll give it a try. turns out this is so good. the broth was light, balanced, refreshing. works very well with the the foie.
we're full. at least satisfied because the food has lots of flavor overall. but we ordered the cheese course, coz this place is supposedly famous for it. i'm not so big on my cheese, so we let the cheese guy pick 3 for us. i specifically wanted their strongest blue cheese, which was excellent. the other 2 were good but not so memorable. (the cheese guy can really use some enthusiasm though. he talked like he just woke up....)
two classes of red (shiraz and zinfandel). both good. they gave us little extra splash towards the end to help us finish the cheeses too.
with the cheese course, we were more full than needed. then they gave us little sweets. some excellent chocolates and whatnot, even though we didn't order coffee or anything.
~$180 (before tip). not bad at all. have to go back to try the uni panna cotta soon.
35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023