Pick for the week of Sept 17th
Here's what I said then:
I've been yearning to go to this restaurant since I moved to New York five years ago. For our fourth anniversary, that dream finally came to true and, to my amazement, it exceeded all my expectations. The atmosphere is stylish but also very laid back and unintimidating. The staff is never pompous and, unlike some other high class restaurants, it never felt stuffy or made me feel like a six year old that shouldn't be there.
It's a refreshing take on gourmet dining. And the food is just as fun. I'm an adventurous eater and you really should be to fully appreciate the tasting menu here.
Our twelve course meal began with squid noodle, sunflower seed, prune, and fresh coriander seed. I have no way of describing the taste except we liked it. It felt as though we were eating on another planet. Next came Jim's favorite dish: pizza pebbles! The perfect example of Dufresne's sense of humor and lack of pretension, you are encouraged to eat these delicate dehydrated spheres of pizza with pepperoni cream and dried shitake, with your fingers. They tasted like a high end Combos. Knot foie gras came next: a long ribbon of silky foie gras beautifully and simply presented with home made rice krispies and kimchee sauce. The sweetbreads with cabbage kaffir and waterchestnuts were breaded in camomile and had the richest, creamiest texture you can imagine. Beef tongue with little blocks of fried mayonnaise and a pungent tomato molasses was next and is one of the dishes the restaurant is most known for. The simple sounding, but exquisitely and ingeniously assembled french onion soup was next (see photo). The onions came in the form of a concentrated paste atop two thin wafers of rye which you let drop into the broth with its globes of cheese which burst when the dish is all mixed together. This was a highlight of the meal. Our second to last savory dish was perhaps my favorite: warm surf clams with watermelon, garlic chive and these extremely potent little fermented black beans that looked like watermelon seeds. Lastly, before desserts began, we had lamb belly, which was prepared like thin bacon with black chickpea and cherried cucumber, an earthy hearty final savory entry…
The reason I remember everything in such detail is that they give you a copy of the menu to follow along. I asked the waiter if it would be possible to get mine signed by Dufresne, and he said “Well, would you like to meet him?” We were taken into the surprisingly calm kitchen where ten or so people were preparing the dishes we had enjoyed. We saw several beef tongues getting their final touches of garnish and learned that interns had the task of carefully crafting the dehydrated pizza pebbles. Wylie was nice and soft spoken and signed our menu with a “Thank you!”. No, Mr Dufresne, thank YOU for the best dining experience ever.