I had heard much about Chef Gabriel Kreuther from Alsace and his move to 42nd Street in the Grace building just between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and Saturday night he delivered over two hundred percent! (www.gkny.com)
On arrival I was impressed by the large room with super high ceilings and way oversized paintings decorating one wall that were very modern splashes of color. I was a bit concerned as the bar area was full and very noisy; the space was so open you could see back to the kitchen and the chef's table where people were already seated enjoying themselves. My fears were allayed however and within an hour so the bar had quieted down and the restaurant filled up but there was never a din of noise that was bothersome.
I ordered a glass of Andre Jacquart Brut Experience 1er Cru Blanc de Blanc and perused the menu. I noticed a small glass fixture on the table with a whole in it which I assumed to be a bud vase, but I was wrong because shortly afterwards they brought over a glass holder with a savory Kugelach (is that a cross between a kugel and a rugalach?) in it which was placed into the glass container so that it sat on the table. I tried to untie the string it was wrapped in, and ultimately my server Rachel assisted, then took a slice and smeared it with gorgeous chive sour cream with which it was served. Delicious!
I relaxed on my elegant but firm banquette which also had pillows in case I needed them and settled in for a four plus hour evening which really was an amazing experience.
Three amuses arrived and they were in this order: a grapefruit segment in Mezcal with tomato chili powder served on a slice of lime which you're not supposed to eat, a Savory Pea Falafel sitting on a bed of Meyer lemon yogurt with sea salt, and a white pepper scone which was crispy and savory with a cremini mushroom marmalade. I felt that ordering a bottle of wine would be the best route so I chose a truly amazing Mas La Mola dark intense red fruit and smoky wine from Priorat 2009. It was a good choice because even my courses which seemed to logically pair with white wines were quite rich and heavy.
First up was Hamachi with Black Truffle and Foie Gras served in a "Milles Feuilles" set-up that was a gorgeous chess board construction with little pieces of celery carved out into teeny circles sitting on a grape slice with a rich truffle vinaigrette. It was quite rich and I ate it as slowly as possible to savor every bite, as it was truly one of the best if you can call it "pates" I have ever had.
I advised my superb server Rachel and Molly who was the sommeileuse that I wanted plenty of time between the courses and they guided me through this wonderful journey which was absolutely perfectly timed.
After a while I was surprised when they brought over a dish that I had not ordered, but thought about on the menu. The Sturgeon and Sauerkraut Tart was so Alsatian in its creation, I was blown away especially by the perfection of the puff pastry and Siberian Ossetra caviar (from Finland)that sat on top. It was served under a glass dome which had smoke surrounding the tart which wafted up into my nose as they lifted the globe. I can't recall ever having a savory puff pastry tart ever this brilliantly assembled and so delicious.
The next dish was typically ordered for two people, but they told me they would manage to bring it for one although it was quite a large dish if I was okay with that. It was the Austrian White Asparagus which we had had so often the month before in Europe and I could not resist. They were served in a mason jar in which they have been marinating in white wine since I ordered them; they also came smothered with morels spring onions and topped with Pea Tendrills which was all assembled in front of me on the table. Also a warm French whole wheat ficelle had arrived and was served with Societe Originale Quebecois cultured butter from grass fed cows. On the side I also received a demi-tasse cup which had a brunoise of the white asparagus on the bottom covered with asparagus soup and again topped with Siberian Ossetra caviar.
This is a one-of-a-kind dish that I or anyone in the neighborhood during this month to run over and grab as quickly as possible.
While I was eating the chef himself came over and introduced himself and I was thrilled to talk to him learn a little more about him and also discover he had worked in Washington at Le Caprice years ago when he first came to the United States. A very sweet gentleman who knows that having one restaurant for fine dining is truly the way to go rather than splitting yourself among a hundred where the food quality deteriorates.
For my main course I had ordered the Long Island Crescent Duck Breast with Black Trumpet crust, Fleischnacka and Ginger Jus which came with balsamic strawberries, hazelnuts, crispy trumpet mushrooms and broccoli puree. The duck was so tender you could practically cut it with a fork and the crust on top made the most amazing burst of flavor in your mouth, easily one of the top 10 duck dishes of my life.
I do have to say that the Lehmann Crystal was a little narrow in the top on both the champagne flute and the red wine glass making it a bit difficult with my nose to drink.
I did love the elongated cutlery which was served on the leather strap at the side of my plate.
More bread arrived in the form of a buckwheat and rosemary roll served with a Mangalitsa Lardo that was simply out of this world. Up until a couple of months ago I would have skipped the Lardo, but after having it in Canada I am now a huge fan.
I rested awhile before contemplating dessert and ultimately chose what I was going to have, but of course a free dessert had to come first in the form of Cara Cara Orange refreshing on top of a rich Tapioca Yogurt base with Malt Biscuit.
The main dessert was Lambent-Mandarin Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter Crunch, Mandarin Jelee and Milk Chocolate Cream. A true winner of deserts this one I will remember for a long time, not to mention its beautiful presentation which you can always see on my Facebook pictures.
After this I was treated to Cheesecake macaroons, pistachio Rosemary chocolate, spiced pear chocolate and honey saffron chocolates all of which I took home.
A teensy glass of Rochelt Black Elderberry, which apparently is an Austrian eau-de-vie aged in glass balloon, was proffered by Molly as a gift which truly settled my digestion and had me on my way after four plus hours.
No question here that this is one of the top 10 meals I have had in my life, and I truly cannot wait to come back!