Dined at Sumile last night on a bit of a whim, and was pleasantly surprised with the experience.
In the old Domicile space on 13th St., they have stipped out the odd milk jugs and the dining room partitions, making the space as airy as a 20' x 40' area can be.
The food is generally based on Japanese cuinsine and incorporates French techniques and ingredients from all over Asia. I went in unaware of the chef's pedigree and the ambitions of the restaurant, which are clearly high.
After an amuse of Spanish Mackerel and little squares of citrus gelee, we chose 5 plates from the list of about 20. Most dishes are $14, and they present them as sort of Asian tapas. A little bit much on the "this is how we do it and aren't we clever" tone, but nothing that was too overbearing.
1) Veal head and foie gras terrine (tet de veau) with crispy duck tonuge and mizzuna salad. Quite good, even surpassing the novelty of eating duck tongues. Perhaps could have offered a better foil for the rich foie gras portions of the terrine, the citrus coulis cut it some though.
2) Halibut with scallion fondue and field caviar. Very good- impeccable halibut, poached about half way through, smothered in the scallion "fondue" which was basically an eggy hollandaise with Asian accents. Apparently field caviar is a Japanese grain- provided texture but no discernable flavor.
3) Red Snapper with miso and japanese herbs. Sort of a deconstructed black cod, the miso sauce was tastier than the fish which was just a touch dry. All in all a solid dish however.
4) Duck breast with sake and foie gras mousse. I would classify the "mousse" as more of a foam, but it paired well with the perfectly cooked duck breast. The was probably the most refined dish of the night.
5) Braise of chicken, cepes, and snails. French really, this dish offered a touch of asian with the spicing and perhaps playing off the sweet parsnip puree that sat under the braise. Subtle and supple broth.
I would say that the departure from pure Asian sensibilities opened the dishes up nicely to the wine list, which certainly held better value than is typical. All allocated small production finds, the size of the restaurant and the ambition of the theme allows them to draw diners in to some fantastic bottles.
I came away unsure of what the future holds for Sumile. No doubt the kitchen is bold, but with technique to back it up. The bill for two was $180 with tip, so they are setting themselves up to compete with a lot of very nice restaurants. On the other hand, there isn't dish at say, AZ, that even comes close to the sophistication of what I tasted last night at Sumile.