Sunday, January 31, 2010

Restaraunt Daniel, NYC

My wife, Jessica, and I took a trip to NYC over New Year's, and we were fortuate enough to get the opportunity to eat at Daniel Boulud's three Michelin starred Restaurant Daniel on Jessica's birthday on January 2nd.

Unfortunately, Jessica was starting to come down with what we now know was a full on case of the flu and the symptoms really started flaring up towards the end of our meal. That diminished our experience, somewhat, but it was still an amazing experience and we both enjoyed it throughly.

We did the six course tasting menu and each of the six courses had two options. Jessica and I each ordered alternate options and we were thereby able to cover a total of 12 separate dishes between the two of us. The kitchen was amazingly accomodating at working within the confines of Jessica's gluten and lactose free diet and was able to fully customize the menu around those restrictions.

Below is the full tasting menu for that night:

Course 1

Pressed Duck and Foie Gras Terrine
Chimay Gelee, Chestnuts, Red Cabbage Chutney
Mosaic of Capon, Foie Gras, and Celery Root
Pickled Daikon, Satur Farms Mache, Pear Confit

R. Haart Riesling Kabinett "Piesport", Germany 1999

Course 2

Olive Oil Poahced Cod "En Salade"
Artichoke Puree, Tarragon Dressing, Lemon Zest
Marinated Fluke with Seaweed
Pine Nuts, Radishes, Matsutake Mushrooms, Bonito Gelee

Domaine Bailly, Sancerre "Chavignol", Loire 2008

Course 3

Kataifi Crusted Rock Lobster
Broccoli Mousseline, Ricotta Salata, Lemon-Pine Nut Gremolata, Harissa Coulis
Handmade Spinach Tortelloni
Hedgehog Mushrooms, "Tomme de la Chataigneraie", Lomo, Black Garlic

Domaine Matrot, Meursault "Les Chevalieres", Burgindy 2007

Course 4

Woodfire Grilled Yellowfin Tuna
Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, Red Kuri Squash, Chorizo Emulsion
Black Sea Bass with Syrah Sauce
Leek Royale, "Pommes Lyonnaise"

Chehalem "Three Vinyards" Pino Noir, Wilammette, Oregon 2007

Course 5

Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Chop
Garbanzo Bean Fricassee, Chorizo, Rutabaga, Chickpea Tendrils
Duo of Dry Aged Black Angus Beef
Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Parsnip-Potato Gratin
Seared Rib Eye with Black Trumpets, Gorgonzola Cream

Bosquet des Papes, "Cuvee Grenache", Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone 2000

Course 6

Coconut Lemongrass Soup
Mango-Thai Basil Gelee, Poached Pineapple, Coconut Rum Sorbet
Chateau D'Arche, Sauternes, Bordeaux 2003
Warm Gunaja Chocolate Coulant
Liquid Caramel, Fleur de Sel, Milk Sorbet
Rivesaltes Domaine de Rancy "Ambre, Roussillon" 1996

As a note, for my birthday in October, we ate at Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Napa, CA. I won't go into all the details of that here, but let's just say that experience is the bar that I will be measuring all restaurant experiences against going forward.

I am pleased to say that Restaraunt Daniel held its own when compared to French Laundry, though French Laundry was probably the overall better restaurant of the two... Every dish we tried at Daniel was at least excellent, though I would not go quite so far to say that every dish was perfect. French Laundry definitely had a higher percentage of absolutely flawless 100% perfect dishes than Daniel did. I felt FL had more consistency throughout the meal with more of a unified flow and progression. That said, the Short Rib dish at Restaurant Daniel was easilly the best dish I have ever tasted in my life... It was truly transcendent. Also, Daniel did better with desserts than the FL.
I was impressed with Boulud's willingness to embrace complexity in his dishes. Keller's approach seem focused on perfection above all else, while Boulud seemed more willing to try things that were more challenging/complicated, even if they weren't quite 100% perfect if that makes sense.

As was excpected, the service was impeccable. Unobtrusive, yet highly attentive and educational. The space was absolutely amazing as well, and we somehow scored a huge, highly desirable semi-enclosed private table with a vista-like view of the whole restaurant. As an added bonus, Chef Boulud was there that night and we saw him come out and hobnob with a few of the especially rich and powerful looking groups of clientelle on a number of ocassions.

Here are a few pictures from that night:

Pressed Duck and Foie Gras Terrine:
NYC 2009-38

Mosaic of Capon, Foie Gras, and Celery Root:
NYC 2009-39

Special "Bonus" Birthday Dessert:
NYC 2009-40

Overall, HIGHLY recommended.


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