The room is subdued, verging on bland. Ivory and taupe hues, plus glowy lighting somewhat soften the sterility of decor, but regardless there is a sense of elegance and luxury here. There are white tablecloths in the dining room, but simple woven place mats top the bar and lounge tables. It's just a hint shy of the poshness of Daniel, while more sophisticated than db Bistro Moderne; that said, all of Daniel's pricepoints fall within the "special occasion" category to me.
The menu is divided into De La Mer (fish, etc.) , Du Jardin (vegetable) and De La Ferme (meat & fowl). Our waiter's enthusiasm for the Salade Tropezienne convinced me to start with that, but while it was a lovely tumble of crisp and juicy fennel, celery and artichoke, it obfuscated a sort of mild skordalia-esque cream bedding the vegetables that wasn't discovered until about 75% of the way through. Without it, it was a simply dressed raw vegetable salad, but even with the addition of it didn't immediately become rave-worthy. A saffron linguine with bottarga and razor clams proved more interesting, the spendy spice perfuming the pasta itself along with lemon, then simply tossed with the shellfish and a sprinkle of the mullet roe- but again, a solid dish without much fanfare.
I was more impressed with the entrees, both selections from De La Mer. Cedar grilled rouget absorbed its woody fragrance, then present on a flamboyant furl of parchment alongside baby fennel and shallots, with a spritz of piment d'espellette for kicks. Even more flavorful was the pungent romanesco that pooled aside a slim filet of daurade cooked a la plancha upon a bed of every-so-slightly wilted arugula.
20 West 64th Street