Red velvet banquettes and etched glass, sparkly chandeliers and low, glowy lighting prevail. Waiters are handsomely suited, warm and welcoming. The wine list is no tome, but it is one thoughtfully curated list. They have a well-rounded variety both by the glass and bottle, and more importantly, a selection of "by the ounce" option made possible by a state-of-the-art dispensing system, allowing for the sampling of some otherwise out-of-budget treasures. I splurged on a few ounces of a white Latour, which at $9/oz. was the cheapest options, whereas a full glass (which is rare to find) would then have been easily over fifty dollars, and some of
the offerings were almost that costly for even just one ounce (such
as the '91 Y'quem) . I was happy for just a daub, as this one was a profound wine, intense and mature, whereas my normal preferences tend more fresh and floral. All the same, I was impressed by the experience.
A small silver bowl of fragrant gougeres are bequeathed to each table, melting clouds of pungent cheese, their tantalizing aroma a compelling appetite-provoker alone. In fact, all the perfumes of the kitchen were enticing, and plentiful, which made deciding what to order somewhat more difficult, but also pretty much guaranteeing satisfaction. Even as appealing as were the rainbow beets with goat cheese and my adored mache, I couldn't pass up that ephemeral opportunity for morels, from Oregon, to boot!
Deemed a "cookpot", a generous crock of spelt stewed with gloriously meaty morels and enormous favas were anointed
tableside with verdant spring pea coulis and topped with a leafy tuft of fresh greens, featuring notably flavorful, tangy and pleasantly bitter leaves amongst others sweet or frilly. Easily shareable, although I hardly wanted to. I mean, at ALL. Morels are spelled with "more" for a reason, after all. (Ha.)
The entrees have a lot of variety while still adhering to traditional bistro offerings. There were several fishes, a few poultry renditions, and meat options from tartare to T-Bone. I chose an exceptional golden tilefish, and while I was not even really familiar with the fish, as it was described by our waiter it sounded ideal- and lived up. The thick filet, similar to cod, was assertively smoked which enhanced its firm texture and elevated the sweet flaky flesh. Its sliver of silvery skin attained the Platonic ideal of crispness atop. Plated atop a raft of delicate white asparagus and a gently smooth lemon mousseline (I opted out of the urchin- I know... I need to become more adventurous), novelly and more seasonally garnished with sprigs of purslane rather than predictable parsley. Hangar steak with
A simple side of broccoli was a lovely sautee, brilliant green and assertively garlicked, but I even couldn't restrain myself from dipping a few of the florets in the bordelaise as well... was really that wondrous.
The only thing that wouldn't have benefited from a drizzle of that sauce were the next courses to arrive, as we moved on to a sweet finale. My tablemate had had his eye set on the profiteroles from reservation time, so his order took no contemplation. And mine was nearly as automatic, as I jumped upon my first rhubarb of the season. For that, the batons of piefruit retained enough firmness to be arranged into a bed for the a luscious mascarpone sorbet, studded with juicy morsels of strawberry and a few crisp, freeze-dried ones with a delightfully crunchy texture that melted on the tongue. I loved this dessert as much as I have any in recent history, the rhubarb sweetened just enough to tamp its alluring, pucker-worthy tang. The profiteroles, too, were honorable, although for my own taste, I prefer bigger ones with greater filling
60 West 55th Street - New York