Tuesday, May 17, 2016

BEAUTIQUE, revisited

A mirrored stairway descends into the windowless dining room of Beautique, the first indication of the clubbiness of this subterranean midtown boite.  But while  "beauty" is more prominent than "boutique", with its handsomely presented food and see-and-be-seen diners, renowned culinary director Alain Allegretti has not compromised his talent for the sake of the
Fluke crudo
 party.  In a sort of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure phenomenon, dining and disco successfully coexist: it's up to you to curate your own experience.

Diners evolve from business-casual to New York-fabulous as the evening progresses, the low lighting ebbs sophisticated to swank. A mural of glittering lips provides a fantastic selfie-backdrop, if one can hold still long enough to snap one once the live music starts around 9pm.  But don't let this distract you from Allegretti's artistry in his French-inflected New American menu.  The caliber of
Beet Salad
Tuna Tartare
ingredients shine through in the freshness of fluke crudo and luscious tuna tartare, and cooked proteins are as masterfuly prepared.  Octopus and monkfish often turn rubbery, but both are flawlessly executed.
Octopus Appetizer
 The lustily spiced octopus appetizer, big enough for an entree, achieves toasty flavor even in the absence of visible char,with burst tomatoes and dense potatos. Monkfish is springier, a tajine of seasonal beans and bouncy Israeli couscous underneath.

Cod with eggplant
Monkfish with spring bean tajine

Strawberry Souffle with Key Lime Creme

The kitchen doesn't seem to fear the city's heightened salt admonitions: some dishes are notably saline.  But the scene encourages a free flow of libations, and even water glasses never sit long half-empty.  If you're a little bloated the morning after, it was well worth the dinner and a show.  And if dinner morphs into disco, still do not bypass dessert.  Strawberry souffle, delicately marshmallowy and drizzled in key lime creme, is well worth the twenty minute prep time.  If it's a concern, take that time to boogie away the calories in anticipation.

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