Sunday, January 06, 2013

NYC's DANIEL does it deliciously with grand flair (1-5-13)

The new year started off very well dining-wise last night with my first visit to Restaurant DANIEL in NYC ( the gastronomic templedom of Chef Daniel Boulud. I had been to Daniel before in its first NY location uptown and had a pretty bad experience, this return was indeed totally satisfying. The grander, larger location at Park & 65th is truly elegant and oozes warmth along with the elegant flair of the sophisticated staff.

I happened to be dining with a business associate of Chef Daniel and I even mentioned to her as we sat down how surprised I was that the boss himself was on hand and hovering over several tables. Within minutes, he was at our table discussing business, news and the dining options we had. WOW!
Those of you in DC will remember that Chef Daniel started in the USA in DC back in 1980, but soon departed for NYC. Well, a little known secret is that he is on the verge of signing a deal to return to DC in 2014 to open a bistro!

I loved the house sparkling water which had a bit more fizz than most homemade versions. Complimentary champagne appeared as well.

Our first amuse was BEETS 3 WAYS, one with sable fish, one with salmon and mustard cream, and one was a small bowl of puree that actually looked like ketchup!
The next amuse was two small portions one of GEODUCK with Pineapple and Green Apple that was simply divine, the second was a succulent OYSTER with Lime Veloute.
The breads arrived and I wanted them all but tried only the Black Olive and later the Sweet Garlic Focaccia. The Multigrain Three Seed and Sourdough were my guest's choices. We gobbled them up and I loved the amazing butter with coarse sea salt on top.

For our main dinner tasting, all the courses were different for the both of us and I did not taste all of the other dishes....but I will list them anyway:

MOSAIC of SQUAB Breast with Pickled Shitake was a wonderfully gamey pate made with Foie Gras, Confit Grapes, Muscat Gelee, Purple Watercress, Pistachio Oil & Young Vegetables. It was indeed a superb blending of tastes and while the grapes had sweetness, it was an ideal foil.
Capon-Foie Gras & Black Truffle Mosaic with Artichoke Barigoule, Celery-Mustard Coulis & Toasted Hazelnut was across the table, and I did have a bite of this dish as well. The capon (poularde) was less intense, so I really liked mine more, even though this was great. The wine was a semi-dry Freiherr Von Heddesdorff RIESLING "Winninger Uhlen Kabinett" 2008 from Mosel, Germany that paired brilliantly, especially with my gamier mosaic pate.

ORANGE-YUZU Marinated SEA SCALLOP with Kushi Oyster, Pickled Buddha's Hand Lemon(the server said it was Kaffir Lime), Shiso Oil, Sea Lettuce and Chayote had razor thin ceviche of tasty succulent scallops served inside a small bowl with a huge rim that had dozens and dozens of adorable holes in the plate rim.
Next to me was Trio of COHO SALMON: Poached with Finger Lime & Mint
Tartare with Meyer Lemon and Sansho Pepper Tuile
Hot Smoked with Celery Remoulade
The wine was a bone dry Salomon Undhof GRUNER VELTLINER "Hochterassen" 2011 from Kremstal Austria.

As I am not a fan of fennel I was happy not to get the FENNEL RAVIOLI with Scottish LANGOUSTINES, Sauteed Cuttlefish, Sicilian Green Olive, Artichoke & Saffron Cream. Instead, before me was a magnificent presentation of Slow Baked JADE TIGER ABALONE with Cauliflower, Red Cedar Juniper Berries, Northern Lights Caviar in Vodka Beurre Blanc. The dish looked like it was an avocado, but that was actually the huge abalone shell filled with its meat and the divinely rich vodka sauce with caviar that I almost liked the shell clean! On the side was an adorable crispy thyme ravioli. Domaine Drouhin CHABLIS 1er Cru 2009 was the perfect Burgundy Chardonnay with wonderful mild apple and melon overtones.

Next was my Slow Baked European WILD TURBOT with Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, King Crab Legs, Wild Black Rice, Saute Americaine which was a superb fish bisque sauce. The fish was firm, tasty and the flavors were intense and brilliant. I did not taste the Cedar Wood Wrapped KAMPACHI with Braised Celery, Caramelized Salsify, Cipollni Onion, Mustard-Seed Bourbon Sauce, but it sure sounded great for a tuna hamachi dish. The wine was a Domaine Lapierre Morgon, Burgundy 2011; the perfect light red for these big fish dishes. My only complaint of the entire night was that the two red wines were served slightly chilled and on a cold night, I prefer them ever so slightly warmer.

Roasted Liberty Farm DUCK BREAST was sliced razor thin and came with Hazelnut-Spinach Subric, Confit Turnip, Poached Quince, Garganelli Pasta, Winter Black Truffle and Sauce Civet. I did taste the duck and it was simply perfect as was the black truffle sauce. My Duo of QUEBEC SUCKLING PIG was just as good with a Roasted Chop with Smoked Paprika and Daikon Radish Sauerkraut (very Alsatian) and a yummy and meaty Crispy Pork Belly with Pee-Wee Potatoes, Honeycrisp Apple Confit and Ommegang Beer Jus. Not being a beer fan, I was wary when the dish arrived, but the sauce was amazing and the entire combination reminded me of a feast in Strasbourg years ago. The Proprieta Sperino "UVAGGIO" 2008 from Coste Della Sesia, Piedmont was our biggest red and satisfying it was, cleansing the palate after each bite and different flavor.

VACHERIN MONT d"OR was the cheese course presented as a surprise gift from the chef, and I can't recall a more satisfying, yet so simple dish. The creamy rich triple cream cheese was presented warm tableside and scooped onto our plates and then smothered (and I mean that) with shavings of Fresh WHITE TRUFFLES from Alba. White truffle baguettes were provided as the bread to shmear the divine dish on. OMIGOD!! Lopez de Heredia "VINA TONDONIA" 1996 Rioja Reserva white was the most fascinating of wines that had the biggest legs of a white wine I have ever seen. It was nutty and earthy and intense and indeed, could not be tasted on its own. With the cheese, the earthiness melded into an amazing partner.

DUO of FRUITS & CHOCOLATE Desserts came next with a Huckleberry Vacherin, Milk Chocolate Dacquoise, Hazelnut Biscuit & Chocolate-Lime Sorbet. The tastes were small, and we gobbled them all up instantly. Chateau Pajzos 5 Puttonyos Aszu Tokai 2003 was rich, intense, viscous and superb with the treats and then a port-like Domaine de Rancy Rivesaltes Ambre, 1996 from Roussillon followed, and while excellent, I preferred the former.

Mignardises came and my guest allowed me to gobble up the ones I liked...the macaroon was bliss. Following this was a plate of four different housemade flavored dark chocolates: Raspberry, Praline with Rum, Passionfruit & Caramel--each no more than 1/8th inch square, but bursting with flavor.

What a night!