Tuesday, December 06, 2016

DC's TABERNA del ALABARDERO offers awesome and awful in one meal (12-5-16)

I searched through my over 1000 postings on my blog (www.phyllistines.blogspot) where there is (by the way) a great search engine for those of you looking for dining spots (just type in the city or country name!), and found I had not posted on Taberna Del Alabardero (www.alabardero.com) in a decade. I know for a fact that Will & I visited there some 3 or 4 years ago and had an unmemorable paella, so we hesitated to return for some time. We had purchased two tasting dinners for two people at various auctions, so it was time to redeem them last night with some friends. When making the reservations last month, I realized that the manager, PR person, chef and virtually the entire team there had been replaced in the last year, which gave me some worry as we knew not a soul on arrival.
I had to explain that we had two certificates for two each but ultimately they figured it out and we ordered a superb bottle of Vina Otano Barrel Fermented 2014 white blend of Viura & Tempranillo Blanco that was a bit too cold on arrival and needed some caressing in the glass to bring up to a non-super-chilled temp. The flavors came out when our first course of Gazpacho Andaluz arrived in a martini glass. It was creamy and rich and full of flavors, but perhaps I would have preferred something warmer on what was easily one of the coldest nights so far this season. Next came an superb (FB foto) Shrimp Carpaccio with Avocado & Black Pepper Dressing, which was superb, but needed a lot more fresh black pepper on it which did arrive to satisfy our taste buds. The shrimp was cut thin in a large square and the a scoop of avocado crema was at the center; excellent once the pepper came.
We switched to red quickly and chose an amazing bottle of 2005 La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva, a blend of Tempranillo & Graciano, with the aid of super-sommelier Jorge, who declared it one of his favorites on the list. It drank beautifully on its own, smooth and silky and full of flavors, but not overpowering, and paired deliciously with the Grilled Red Snapper with grapefruit Veloute and Pickled Vegetables. Some thought the pickled string beans an odd accompaniment, but I loved the flavor burst and crunch.
Our final wine was an even bigger red suggested by Jorge and he hit the jackpot with a 2002 Paixar made of the Mencia varietal from the Bierzo region to the northwest of the country's center. The table had various taste notes including prunes, treacle and raisins, and its hugeness required some food. Alas the main course of Cochinillo or Roast Suckling Pig cooked for 12 hours and served confit with Sweet Potato Puree was a huge disappointment in that it was not only fatty, but some parts were truly inedible. It tasted like a crunchy pork wrapped in a fatty lardon, so it had some good parts, but overall we skipped the fatty parts. The staff noticed we were unhappy and offered to bring something else, but we had eaten enough and settled for dessert. Originally they said we would all get Rice Pudding, but I suggested we each be allowed to choose, due to the previous course; no problem. Will stayed with the rice pudding and it was unexciting. Crema Catalana was a rich creme brulee with intense rich custard and the crunchiest of brulees. Cheesecake was a revelation made with a blue intense goat cheese and manchego that brought cheesecake to a new level.
Delicious cookies arrived(FB foto) of a crunchy chocolate rice crispy on shortbread and were thoroughly enjoyed along with glasses of complimentary NOE Vinum Optimum Rare Signature Pedro Ximenez 30 years aged sweet sherry that was very welcome after the cochinilla incident.
We left full, but hoping that the one bad course had not happened. It was an enjoyable evening for sure and save for the one bad course, totally delicious as well.

Friday, December 02, 2016

DC Food & Beverage Collective does delicious dinner at MANDU with Chef Danny Lee (11-30-16)

Earlier this year the local chapter of AIWF broke off and created our own local charity to support various food and educational projects in DC. This was my first event with the DC Food & Beverage Collective (http://www.dcfbc.org) and it was swimmingly wonderful. Membership is inexpensive and the benefits are great, so consider that. I also asked Samuel if he would like to join me for his first "event tasting dinner" in DC and as soon as he saw the menu laden with dumplings he was in!

Mandu now has two locations in DC (www.mandudc.com) at Dupont Circle and now at K St, NW in the NoMa Disctrict. You may recall that Tuesday was the day of horrid rain around rush hour at 615pm, so it took us almost an hour to get there, because (rant) DC drivers suck in anything other than perfect conditions. Once there, the rain let loose and we were forced to find a lot and due to a basketball game at Verizon, the lots all charged $20! I felt jipped, a bit damp and was getting sore on arrival, so I ordered an Aloe Sojoutini made from Korean rice wine (akin to sake) and aloe. It was refreshing, relaxing, delicious and not sweet, and during Happy Hour they are $4.00!!!

The group was seated in the upstairs private dining room at two long wooden tables and it was a bit noisy from the crowds down below filtering up to us, but we all had a super time.
Chef Danny Lee came out to describe each dish and take questions and we were all transported for several hours to Korea! As always, many of the photos of the meal are on FB.

First Course:
Mandu (shrimp, veggie, and beef & pork dumplings)--Samuel adores these, but I still couldn't get him to try the shrimp!! The veggie was superb indeed.
Hobak Jeon (egg battered and pan fried zucchini)-a simple dish dipped in a soy-sesame sauce like the dumplings
Pa Jeon (mini seafood & green onion pancakes)-Think treyfe latkes that are delicious...getting ready for Hannuka!
Korean Fried Chicken-Double-freid wings in a spicy soy glaze that was totally irresistible, which is awesome from me since I am not a wing man, but the spicy sauce was indeed magnificent.
These were paired with Mandu Soju - soju infused in house with cloves and pomegranate, the Korean rice wine used for the Sojutinis as well, and while the clove essence and flavor was prominent, the wine was excellent and with some of the spice, a brilliant pairing.

Second Course:
Chap Chae (stir-fried clear sweet potato noodles with mixed veggies)--these were clear noodles like the Asian rice version, but made with sweet potatoes instead for a truly novel taste
Yujacha Korean Salad w/Citron Vinaigrette, Orange Segments, Toasted Pine Nuts and crunchy Toasted Rice(think mini krispies)
La Crele Sancerre 2014, France was our Sauvignon Blanc that was probably the most citrus intense SB I have ever had from France and worked awesomely with the citrus vinaigrette.

Third Course:
Bulgogi (sweet soy marinated slices of grilled ribeye)
Dak Gui (spice marinated slices of grilled chicken breast)
Yache Gui (seasoned and grilled mixed veggies and tofu) including black beans, broccoli and sweet potatoes with sides of pickled cucumbers and superb kimchi for dipping.
Dduk Bok Gi (long rice cakes simmered in Gochujang broth made from Korean chili paste)-These were the most fascinating dish made from pressed rice into long cylindrical cakes which were served in the most excellent of spicy sauces. I am in love with gochujang and could eat it on everything!!
Steamed rice was prominent for all the dishes to be served with as well as lettuce wraps generally for the Bulgogi to be wrapped in, but the leaf size was a bit too small to really fill up with much!
Les Vignobles Gueissard Bandol 2012 from France was a beautiful intense red that went well with all the various intense spices.

Dessert:
Assortment of Mochi Ice Cream(chocolate chip) with Sweetened Red Beans
Makkoli - Korean unfiltered rice wine was the funkiest wine I have had in years and honestly not to my liking.

We all had a ball and loved the novelty of the food, even though many of us had been to Mandu before and enjoyed many of these varied flavors and dishes.
If I had to change one thing, it would be the very hard uncomfortable wooden chairs that my sorry tuchus was truly ready to leave after 3 hours! Oh and maybe the funky Makkoli!

Kudos also to our team of servers, but especially Jun, who had every drink served in minutes and every need filled from extra kimchi to more wine before we could even ask!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cosme comes out top on with creative Mexican cuisine in NYC(11-25-16)

Cosme opened in NYC (cosmenyc.com) at  35 E. 21st St. about 2 years ago under the name of the  great Mexican chef Enrique Olvera. It's been virtually impossible to get a reservation there for quite some time but when we decided to spend our Thanksgiving Friday night at the nearby Edition Hotel on Madison Square I made it my business to get a reservation for the three of us on Friday night.

When we arrived at 6:30 the place was already leaving and we were not too fond of the sustained droning bass noise for what they seem to call  music. Over the evening the music did improve and I didn't feel like I needed to leave faster due to the unbearable drone.
While  the place is noisy the decor is simple and they have wooden tables with exposed floors making for even more noise. There  is some modern Mexican art on the wall that wouldn't be worth taking home but what they did have surrounding the entire room were  small humidifiers really making a very nice difference on an extremely dry cold New York night.
Server Victor could not have been more courteous giving us as much time to peruse the trysting drink menu as well as the fairly small food menu which consisted of no more than 20 items. Will ordered a plain Margarita while I ordered a Striptease which was Vida Mezcal with Dolan vermouth Blanc guanabana and lime as well as the most awesome absinthe salt surrounding half of the glass. It was quite strong but really delicious.
I chose the Huarache which was a large tortilla fairly thick filled with surf clams and marcona almonds as well as a lime kosho salsa verde on the side..superb.
Will started with the Burrata which was made with epazote garlic mojo and Market greens.
Samuel chose to go right to the main course of short ribs scallions Cipollini onions and avocado and of course all of the main courses that were meant to be wrapped in tortillas had the most delicious freshly baked tortillas brought right to the table from the kitchen.
Will and I decided to split the main course of their signature dish called duck carnitas with onions radishes and cilantro. The dish is cooked for over 8 hours and the duck is deconstructed and then reassembled to bring to the table so that it looks like a duck but has no bones in it with all the crispy skin layered on the top. You must see my Facebook page to totally understand this. These came with fresh limes which made the dish so much better as well of course as the tortillas and two sauces one was a tomatillo chili and a spicier Serrano and Chile de Arbol. 
At $72 it is a huge dish and Samuel help us finish it off luckily because it really is meant for 3 or 4 people at minimum, but we were truly glad we decided to order it.
We have always enjoyed our Mexican wines each time we go South of the border and sadly there are virtually none imported into the United States. The  chef has chosen here to import his own wine called Tinto de la Casa which comes from Vina Cava in Guadalupe of the Baja Peninsula and  it is a chocolate intense 2012 blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache that makes you proud of any Mexican wine with a huge burst of flavor in every sip. 
Will ordered a delicious warm apple crumble tart with ginger cacti and mezcal vanilla ice cream that was out of this world and then some delicious fruit gelees arrived at the table which were made from Tamarind and dusted with a Chile de Arbol sugar.
So maybe it's a bit noisy and maybe it took us a while to get used to the music but the food experience here was definitely worth it.

Friday, November 25, 2016

NYC's Ai Fiori comes out in front forever (11-23-16)

 It has become somewhat of a tradition for us to head to New York early Wednesday morning the day before Thanksgiving catch a matinee on Broadway and then head to the quiet and serene Ain
 Fiori in the Langham Hotel where Chef Michael White, one of the great chefs in New York has one of his wonderful Italian dining palaces.
 We always arrive early and the place was deserted as we sat down, but the place with filled up to about half capacity by the time we left 3 hours later. It tends to be a very quiet night for dining in New York and we really love the quiet relaxed and very high end feeling of refinement with beautiful linens and crystal and excellent service from top to bottom.

In our attempts to buy Sicilian and taste as much as we can before we go next summer we ordered a bottle of 2014 Tenuta di Fessina Etna Bianco "Erse" which had an apple and earthiness flavor that we loved.
Slim crisp grissini arrived in a glass filled with extra virgin olive oil and basil leaves and we spent some time perusing the menu.
The four course 99 dollar menu which is in a la carte choice from each category really gives you a lot of leeway and we each chose our dishes and sat back for a ride as an amuse of parsnip puree with pistachio crumble and oranges gelee arrived. The puree was excellent but  the crumble was a bit soggy and perhaps should have been put on only at the last minute before the amuse was served.
The first courses were as varied as they come with Sam ordering a Zuppa di Porri or leek and Yukon Gold potatoes soup with creme fraiche  and crispy prosciutto.   Will  opted for the Polipo alla Piastra which was octopus with sweet potato caponata, brown butter and pine nuts. My Riccio de Mare was a decadent sea urchin  panna cotta with lemon gel, creme fraiche  and caviar that absolutely was gorgeous with its tiny radishes and cucumbers curled up on top and decorating the beautiful plate. Be sure to look on Facebook for a lot of photos.
I do have to add that when I put the photo on Facebook and tried to read in the name of the dish on my phone it understood me as "search in Punta Cana" instead of sea urchin panna cotta!!
The pasta courses are probably the highlights of the meal here, and this meal was no less than any other normal one.  Samuel chose the Risotto Acquarello with brown squash, cranberry beans and Tallegio cheese. Will managed to hit the richest dish in this course with Marubin or Duck  Ravioli with foie gras butter and cherry gastrique. 
I find the pastas that have a little spice here to be the best and the Trofie Nero was amazing squid ink pasta with Ligurean crustacean ragu with seppia, scallops and spiced  Mollica or bread crumbs on top. 
We moved on to a different bottle of white wine which was very different in an earthy oaky way as it came from the Liguria it was called  Riviera Ligurie di Ponente Pigato 2013 by Laura Aschero.
 I forgot to mention that everything comes with olive oil and salted butter and I'm talking about the amazing breads such as olive baguette, rye,  pecan raisin roll, and whole wheat.  We tried  to refrain but it is virtually impossible.
Needless to say Sam had the Tagliata or prime dry aged strip loin which came with endive, potato terrine style "cacio e pepe" and bordelaise sauce.
Will  chose the Spada or extra virgin olive oil poached swordfish which came with artichokes, basil pesto and prosciutto. He declared the the dish tasty but that the fish itself was a bit on the soft side.
 I was thrilled with my Astice or butter poached Nova Scotia Lobster with delicata squash some petite onions and black trumpet mushrooms.
Sam went light for desert with Pear, Berry and Mango Passion sorbets.  Will had  the toTorta di nociole or milk chocolate mousse with hazelnut sponge, caramel and hazelnut gelato which disappeared fast, well I chose a plate of three cheeses and they were all top notch excellent:
Valencay, a soft ash rind French goat
Pleasant Ridge Reserve,  superb from raw cow from  Dodgeville Wisconsin
And Rouquefort d'Argental a raw sheep blue from Midi-Pytenees that was stinky and heavenly.
Speaking of heavenly we rolled out the door and headed home after an amazing first day of our Thanksgiving trip to New York.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Celebrating at CENTROLINA is always amazing! (11-13-16)

Last night, ten of us headed to the private dining room at CENTROLINA (www.centrolinadc.com) at DC's CityPlace for a celebration of our recent anniversary as well as our dear friends' Mel & Juan (they have been together an amazing 41 years!).
Chef Amy Brandwien and her team headed by server, Vidal and sommelieuse Kristen, made every bite a memorable experience for the close to four hours we enjoyed there.
Many of the dishes can be viewed on my FB page as always, although I must apologize that we all gobbled up the dessert before I thought to take a photo!
Our evening began with a toast using Ca' del Bosco Sparkling Rose and our "line" for the evening became, "Every one deserves a break this week...." not even considering a hint towards the fast food chain!
We became truly amused and intrigued by our Amuse of a Grilled Virginia Oyster with Nduja Sausage ragu that tickled our palates and make us beg for more. This was followed by Tonnino or cubes of top sushi grade yellowfin tuna, with lemon crema, roasted beets, fried sunchoke crisps and micro greens. We never did discover if the small soft onion-like ingredient was pickled shallot or ?? The larger tuna pieces mimicked the smaller beet pieces and you had to guess which was which.

We moved on to a Soave-Bertani 2012 and I can't recall when I last had this wine I was weaned on in my teenage years. It's a fascinating wine where 1/2 of the grapes are left on the vine to dry and then belended for a wonderful dry white loaded with so many flavors. Gorgeous sea scallops arrived on top of a disc of lentils and beet greens surrounded by carrot puree, lemon jus and micro greens. The scallops were seared to perfection and not salty at all, the lentil mix was a superb foil and made me want to try this at home as we saute beet greens a lot, but I never though of the lentil mix!

Our next wine was yet another revelation from Giulia Negri, 2013 Langhe Chardonnay "La Tartufaia" and even moreso I was intrigued as one never hears about women winemakers in Italy! She grows the grapes near truffle fields, hence the name, but this chardonnay is loaded with not only truffle essence but tons of minerality and earthiness. It was paired with what may be the most imaginative vegetarian dish I have ever had: Corn polenta topped with miniature Shitake Faux "Meatballs" laced with basil oil, micro greens and parmesan. Vidal explained that the "meatballs" are created from oven-roasted veggies and shitakes and then lightly fried. What a treat!

Giovanni Rosso 2008 La Serra is still a young Barolo, but was indeed smooth and beautiful to drink, but while the wine shone, the 5th course was perhaps everyone's top choice for the night: Potato Gnocchi with Truffle Butter Sauce & Parmesan that was so rich we were all squirming with delight in our seats, even from just the amazing white truffle aroma as the dish was placed before us! It made me want to make a reservation for a white truffle dinner soon; if I only had the time!

G.D. Vajra 2012 'Bricco delle Viole" Barolo is even younger, but an interestingly light Barolo but was superb with out Spinach Pappardelle with Veal Ragu, Peas, Genovese White Sauce and parmesan, another divine dish for vegetarians of which there are indeed so many at Centrolina.

Gorgeous pieces are seared very rare tuna arrived with an Eggplant Involtini stuffed with Fennel Sausage and served over a dash of Greek yogurt with intense Calabrese chilis that I can't recall ever being so spicy. Chef Amy has indeed used spice over the years and to great benefit as many of reminisced about her SPAGHETTI alla CHITARA from her previous home Casa Nonna which was superbly loaded with cauliflower and chilis! Franchetti 2011 from the slopes of Mt Etna in Sicily was an amazing treat and I would never have believed it was a majority of Petit Verdot  which was huge in the mouth with an herby berry taste that had us raving. This is a winery we shall surely visit next July when in Sicily!

Next came a superb Shenandoah Dry Age Ribeye with Broccoli-Rabe and Cannelini Beans, simply grilled and full of flavor. When Kristen dared me to guess the wine (hinting it was American), I said right of the bat, "I hope its not RdV," and of course, it was the 2011 Lost Mountain from RdV in Virginia, which she had decanted for three hours and was drinking magnificently; so now I know the secret to enjoying this wine I have poo-pooed a lot because of its huge price tag and need for long aging. Lesson learned.

When attending the James Bared dinner in DC last month Centrolina's brilliant Pastry Chef Amanda Cook-Pilkerton I had her brilliant Baba Cake and begged her then and again a week prior at March of Dimes to do a riff on this brilliant pastry, The Baba was poached with Hard Cider and served with Raspberry Puree, Apples & Whipped Cream. We all gobbled it up so fast, despite being so full! The piece de resistance was the accompanying Foggy Ridge Virginia Fortified Cider made from Pippin Black Apples that won me at the first sip. I have never been a hard cider fan, but this was truly delicious, sweet and full of flavor and an insane pairing that made so much sense!

Needless to say, we were all satisfied, full and thrilled at what many declared the best meal ever. Bravi to the entire Centrolina team, and especially Chef Amy Brandwien who generously donated this awesome dinner to March of Dimes Signature Chefs last year!



Sunday, October 30, 2016

James Beard Foundation flies Florence to NY for dinner with The Medici Table (10-29-16)

I invited two dear friends/clients to dinner last night at James Beard House for a truly unique experience as the Beard Foundation flew in a team from Florence University of the Arts's TuttoTuscana team to promote local foods and more. They were assisted by many students from both Italy and the culinary schools in NY that team up with this University in Italy. This exchange has been going on for 12 years with the foundation!

I came right from the Met Opera where the matinee was cut short by a white powder scare and I happened to be seated in seat L2 which was right in back of seat K4 which had a plaque that is was donated by James A Beard!

We arrived and walked through the small kitchen which was more cramped than I have ever seen it with dozens of chefs (FB foto) and trays laden with the hor's d'oevres:

Tuscan Carabaccia soup with red onion, cinnamon and almonds was a revelation in a shot glass

Deep fried Cresepelle Nests with Parmegiano Reggiano were sugar dusted as well and a bit too sweet for my palate at the start of a meal.

White bean and pecorino frittata were superb and flavorful

Ricotta stuffed with smoked leeks and dehydrated Prosciutto was a truly decadent and rich cream-like soup with luscious leeks and a crunch from the prosciutto chip.

The novel Cinque e Cinque with Shrimp tartare comes from a Tuscan tradition of "5&5" meaning that the street food from Livorno on the coast was made from 5 lire worth of chickpea and 5 lira worth of schiacciata bread, here topped with shrimp tartare and these tiny treats were indeed irresistible!

Two wines were poured with these:

an unexciting but nice Vermentino di Sardegna DOC 2015 from Olianas and a superb

Macari Vineyards 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from Long Island's North Fork (their son attended the school in Florence!) that was an excellent wine full of flavor and a perfect pairing to boot.



We sat down to dinner and started with some superb breads and breadstickts with a trul superb Azienda Agricola Pruneti extra virgin olive oil that was also used in the Antipasto entitled "Pitti Palace":

"Boboli Garden" Renaissance style sald of mixed field greens, pecorino, caper(berries), anchovies, sultana raisins, walnuts, olives and EVOO foam with citrus-tomato drops (fotos on FB of all courses) which was not only gorgeous to look at it was truly one of the most exciting salads I have ever had. The wine was an ever so smooth Barco Reali di Carmignado DOC 2014 Capezzana made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Cab and other wines.



Primo I was called "Castello del Trebbio, Scapera e San Piero" after a fortress-like castle built by the Medici outside of Florence and was a Ricotta & Black Cabbage Gnudi on a light Corazon & Paterno pecorino, garlic & sage sauce that was simply divine, The wine was called Lastricato  from Chianti Rufina Reserva DOCG 2011, Castello del Trebbio and was another super smooth fine 100% Sangiovese.

Primo II was called "Villa di Cafaggiolo, Barberino di Mugello" for another medieval villa in Mugello and was a Rustic Borlotti Bean, Farro and Mushroom Soup made from Oyster mushrooms and chanterelles! The wine again was the same superlative Lastricato.



Our Secondo or main was Anatra all'arancia, a duck dish with breast, foie gras, celeriac, chesnuts, honey, Brussels sprouts leaves and candied orange zest with drops of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP "extra vecchio"(25 years aged) from Acetaia Malpighi which looked superb, but my duck was a bit overcooked and dryish (they were not all this way). A 20%cab, 80% Sangiovese Villa di Capezzana Carmignan DOCG 2010 from Capezzana was again simply smooth and beautiful.



Our pre-dessert was called "Camugliano (Pisa)" for another Medici villa and was a Honey rosemary mousse with pine nut crumble in lingue di gatto shell, which literally means "cat's tongue" but is a simple almond tuille.

Next came Dolce II called "Seravezza (Lucca)" fir a palace perched in the Apuan Alps and was a contemporary Sponge Cake with Orange sauce and nuts. The amazing Vin Santo del Chianti DOC209 was from Castello del Trebbio.



Of course biscotti di Prato and petit fours (called ovis mollis, ancioni & ricciarelli) arrived with more Vin Santo....

We waddled home very happy.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

NYC's BOULUD SUD still serves superior Mediterranean meals (10-28-16)

It's been some time since my last meal at Boulud Sud (www.bouludsud.com)near Lincoln Center, so I decided to try their pre-theater prix fixe dinner at $60 last night prior to attending the opera.

I had a 515pm reservation, and the opera was at 730pm, but my plans were messed up by a wrong choice of subways and a late start from my downtown hotel. I was about 25minutes late, but no worries, they had me seated, served and out still within 80 minutes.

The décor is still simple with one large room that can get noisy, especially pre-theater at Lincoln Center, and I wish they would take the paper sheets off the table as it really lessens the class of what I still consider a fine dining establishment.

I started with the OCTOPUS À LA PLANCHA with Marcona Almonds, Arugula, Jerez Vinegar which was a delicious warm appetizer loaded with tender tentacles and lots of arugula to really fill you up. There was a hummus like paste at the bottom and I sadly did not find out what it was. Speaking of hummus, delicious bread and focaccia arrived before this with oil poured onto a plate of spices tableside as well as a little bowl of spread made from chickpea, Aleppo peppers and some other ingredients that I missed, but was superb.

I ordered a glass of wine and was quite intrigued with the Kabaj from Ravan in Slovenia made from Goriska Brda 2012. The floral nose belied the wines minerality and earthiness and while it had essences of lemon zest, there was no hint of citrus on the palate at all; a superb dry and fascinating choice for sure.

My main course of SEARED DAY BOAT SCALLOPS with Heirloom Beans, Piopini Mushroom, Smoked Ham Broth consisted of two huge sea scallops perfectly seared and cooked, but alas a bit too salty for even my tastes. The aromatic and tasty broth and potato puree helped to lessen the effect and the veggies and beans were truly spectacular.

The 3 course meal includes dessert and I chose the RED WINE SPICED PEAR, Almond Frangipane, Gorgonzola, Vanilla-Black Pepper Gelato which my server said was also with blood orange. There were so many flavors in this little tart with pear and almond cream (foto on FB), I was having a lot of fun mixing the different elements and seeing the various flavor combos. The spices were evident as I had a small piece of bay leaf in it!

Service here was pretty good, but can get spotty with the big pre-opera/concert/ballet crowds, but about 4 minutes after I had left and walked into the Boulud Epicerie next door to just browse for 2 minutes, my server came running down the street after me with my VISA card that I had left behind. Now that's service.