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Tasting menu at Atlas revisited

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Tasting menu at Atlas revisited

Adam Stephanides | Aug 3, 2002 12:09 PM

About a year ago I had the tasting menu at Atlas, and posted on this board that I had been somewhat disappointed. Shortly afterwards, I received an email from the owner (forwarded by Jim Leff), informing me that there was a new chef and inviting me to have the tasting menu again. A couple weeks ago I was back in Manhattan, and I did. I'd asked about the tasting menu when I made my reservation, and on the night the chef himself came out to talk with me, which was a nice touch. When I told him I was considering the sixteen-course menu, he advised me not to, saying twelve courses would be enough, so that's what I had.

While Coleman's cuisine may not be quite as flamboyant as Liebhardt's was, dining at Atlas is still an adventure. A dish bluefin tuna with soybean puree was accompanied by a delicious salad of soybeans, smoked tofu and tomato jelly. The dish most reminscent of the "old" Atlas was a cold watermelon soup with octopus, feta cheese and purslane. This sounds awful, I know, but in fact it was excellent, perhaps the best dish of the meal. Also excellent was dorade with onion puree, caramelized grapefruit, rice beans and citrus foam. And the seared foie gras with quince marmalade was some of the best foie gras I've had.

The apple-wasabi sorbet I'd had on my past visits wasn't served this time (it hasn't been dropped, though, as I heard another table being served it). Instead I got carrot sorbet on top of baby carrots and geraniums with a little olive oil on top. This was very good too.

There were a lot of other dishes, but I won't list them all. They were all very good, but as the meal progressed I began to feel a bit overwhelmed by being exposed to so many different flavors. The relatively simple main course came as a relief: a piece of dry aged rib eye wrapped around an oyster, served on top of plum kimchi, with potato gratin. In my previous report on the tasting menu at Atlas, I remarked that one rarely saw roast beef at fancy restaurants because roast beef was pretty much the same everywhere. But this was really delicious, another highlight.

After this came the cheese course, which was excellent; I especially liked the perseille de maziude (I hope that's spelled right), a very strong French sheep's milk cheese. After this was a palate cleanser of lemon parfait and celery sorbet with rhubarb soup, which was refreshing (the celery sorbet was not sweet).

The dessert course followed. First was a spiced poached pineapple "napoleon": two thin slices of pineapple with angelfood cake in the middle. Next was a chocolate ganache tart with sake sorbet, a sesame wafer, and geranium mousse. I was actually kind of disappointed in the desserts; I prefer my desserts sweeter, and the sake sorbet didn't have much flavor at all. But this is just my taste.

So, based on this visit, I would definitely recommend the tasting menu here. My only caveat (apart from the desserts) is that a couple of the dishes might have been better if they'd been simpler, allowing the main ingredient to come through more clearly (and the quality of the ingredients was excellent).

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