In NYC for a few days of meetings, I had a chance to try out Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s NY outpost of his long-standing Philadelphia flagship restaurant. Our omasake was, simply put, amazing. The first and among the more memorable of dishes was the Tuna Tartare, unlike any I’d ever had. Minced to a fine texture on a slab-like plate, it was accompanied by osetra caviar, crème fraîche, wasabi, dashi-soy and some tiny rice puffs. With the provided spatula-like utensil, we mixed the tuna with the condiments – sublime. Next up was the whitefish carpaccio with hot oil and micro-green mitsuba leaf. Very classically Morimoto and just a perfect taste combining cool fish with the hot oil. Next was a crave-worthy dish I will not soon forget – Oyster Foie Gras. Combining a freshly steamed oyster, uni, foie gras and a very light teriyaki sauce, the dish reached the pinnacle of unctuous decadence. Only comment would be that a raw cool oyster might work even better. Next up was a very refined maki/sushi course – I’ve had similar quality and frankly forgot to take a photo of this course. This was followed by a shot-glass of a very fine tea as an intermezzo. Next up was a ‘surf-and-turf’ of lobster in a fiery chili rub with kobe steak. I’m still not a fan of kobe beef – just seems to come out gray and unappetizing many times I’ve had it. But the lobster was great. The dessert was, I think, an apricot financier with a lovely house-made ice cream. A great meal all around I will remember for a long time.
So I was in NYC in mid-June for (what else) more meetings. I did manage to attend some interesting business dinners, first at Jeffrey Chodorow’s Wild Salmon (NYMag review, official website) and the following night at Mario Batali’s hoity-toity venue Del Posto (NYMag review, official website). The food experience at Wild Salmon was disappointing – the set menu for our group of Interactive Advertising Bureau members didn’t offer the restaurant’s namesake fish – salmon, wild or otherwise. The Yellow Eye Rockfish with heirloom beans and lacinato kale was yummy enough, as was the Pacific Northwest nuts & berries salad. I probably ate too many of the oven roasted rosemary garlic fingerling potatoes served family style on the side, but that combo is a major weakness of mine.
The following night was a client advisory board dinner for clients of DoubleClick at Del Posto. During cocktails before dinner, folks were talking about the fact that Paul McCartney was playing a ‘secret’ gig around the corner – giving me momentary pause to consider abandoning dinner to see one of my idols. But the wine, cocktail morsels like buttery chopped liver, chunks of aged parmesan and other tidbits all helped to keep me there. The most delicious part of the dinner in the private downstairs dining room was the agnolotti dal plin with truffle butter. Really just enough for a tasting, these were divine. After fish the prior night, the sirloin with smoked polenta and vegetable sottaceto was my choice – fine, but nothing to write home about. By the time the crostata di cioccolato arrived with coffee, I was ready to pack it in and caught a cab back to midtown and my hotel. Hence I missed the group that headed out soon after and caught the last four songs of McCartney’s set. Bad choice on my part.
Yesterday was a fabulous day. Yes, I am a year older, but it was really nice to hear from so many friends from near and far. The day began on a high note with Sam singing ‘Happy Birthday to Daddy’ from atop our bed. Soooo cute, I tell ya! To cap the day, Amy begrudgingly went along with my idea for dinner at local gourmet spot Quinones , which turned out to be a three-hour extravaganza that had to be one of the best dinner’s I’ve had in the A-T-L (the Dining Room at the Ritz or the now-defunct Seeger’s runs a close second). And Amy LOVED it! The room is far more intimate and romantic than parent restaurant Bacchanalia upstairs – with softer settings, real linen tablecloths, lovely pink water glasses, and a generally much less uptight wait staff than Amy and I had experienced in the two dinners we’ve had upstairs. So if we can find an excuse, we’ll head back again! There’s the cute touch of the stools for the ladies’ purses, the very comfortable banquette where we sat, and then, of course, the seemingly unending stream of beautiful tastes of heaven that the kitchen sent to our table.
The service was also stellar – including the lovely touch of the maitre’d calling me on my cell a few minutes after we left and thanking us for being such nice guests, hoping we return, wishing us luck with baby no. 2, etc. You just don’t see that sort of personal attention too often. It may have been that business was slow – over the course of the evening we were only one of four tables occupied in the venue – leaving at least another ten or so four-tops open. One complaint, though – the odd couple who sat down next to us with the gentleman wearing shorts and a really ugly Hawaiian shirt seemed out of place – then again, the last time we were at Bacchanalia someone sat near us wearing running shorts. I guess folks just don’t dress up, even for the most expensive restaurants in Atlanta.
Anyway, for those interested in the gory details, here is the breakdown of the ten-course tasting menu (with eight accompanying wine pairings).
- Amuse Bouche of Spring Onion Soup with Marscapone and Fine Herbs Profiterole; Prosecco with Creme de Cassis
- Sweet Corn Custard with Roasted Porcini Mushrooms & Maine Lobster Salad; Gessami, Gramona 2005, Penedes
- Slightly Cured North Georgia Rainbow Trout with D’Avignon Radish & Preserved Artichoke; Sancerre ‘Les Baronnes’, Henri Bourgeois 2004, Loire Valley
- House-made Gnocchi with Roasted Morels, Summer Truffles & Chicken Juice; Marsannay Blanc, Domaine Charles Audoin 2004, White Burgundy
- Maine Halibut with Succotash of Hot House Tomatoes, Fava Beans & Maxibel Pole Beans; Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Les Sinards, Perrin & Fils 2005, Rhone Valley
- Breast of Moulard Duck with Spring Onions, English Peas & Straight-Neck Squash; Saint-Joseph ‘Offerus’ J-L Chave 2004, Rhone Valley Syrah
- Star Provisions Dry Aged Lamb Loin with Young Carrots, Local Rainbow Chard & Hakurei Turnips; Fisher Coach Insignia, Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, Napa Valley
- Sweet Grass Dairies ‘Constant Bliss’ Cows’ Milk Cheese with Candied Pecan
- Summer Melons paired with Summer Melon Sorbets in Honeysuckle Soup
- Warm Rhubarb Cobbler with Blueberry Ice Cream; Rosa Regale, Brachetto d’Acqui, Banfi 2006, Piemonte