Monday, September 28, 2009
This is, however, a place for really good meat. Pictured above is a slab of bacon, nicely charred on the outside, not too fatty, not salty. We also ordered a caesar salad to get some greens in, and it was serviceable, but nothing spectacular.The crown jewel, the porterhouse for two. Arriving and still staying hot from their intense broiler. Some pieces came a little closer to rare than the requested medium rare, but a quick swipe across the hot plate made it all good. The filet part was truly tender while the sirloin had terrific flavor for a simply done piece of meat. The steak is really robust and cut thicker than I was used to. Sometimes I cut a normal-sized bite and got overwhelmed when I put it in my mouth, so I recommend cutting the steak into smaller bites than you would normally.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
So here are the streaks I think will continue this week:
The line opened at 52.5, and came back in because that's a high number. However, the Bills managed to give up almost 300 yards and 3 TDs to Byron Leftwich. As Bill Simmons wrote in his NFL picks column on Friday:
Ever started peeing and completely missed the toilet, then stood there thinking, "My God, I can't believe I just did that?" That's Byron Leftwich 10 times a game.
The Bills have enough talented players that they will score as well, especially if T.O. manages to drop a couple less passes.
A 2-0 ATS (against the spread) team against an 0-2 ATS team. Baltimore has already covered a 2TD spread. More importantly, Baltimore has scored 38 and 31 points in its first two games. How is the O/U line still 38.5? Baltimore isn't a bend-but-don't-break defense. It's a playmaking defense, which will often lead to good field position for its offense or possibly a defensive score.
Tuna with tofu sauce.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
To start with the bread, which includes a delicious stromboli, are mascarpone, eggplant caponata, and olive oil.
Our first course was the creamy polenta with fricassee of truffled mushrooms. The aroma of the truffle comes out immediately while the polenta is ridiculously creamy and buttery. The portions here are pretty large in general, though they might not appear so at first. The picture above is of a half portion of the appetizer. I've also wondered whether you get more food here by ordering something and asking them to split it for two.
Next was the duck and foie gras ravioli with marsala reduction. This pic is also of a shared portion. You can definitely get good bites of foie gras and it is a pretty heavy dish.
This is the signature spaghetti with tomato and basil. Luscious and buttery and oily, this is consistently good and always lives up to the hype. The picture here is of a full portion, but it's actually pretty dense inside and very filling with the butter and oil.
I call it French-Italian because of the use of the foie gras and the heavier hand of butter and oil. It's Italian but feels like there's French technique in the background. Or, you can just call it rustic Italian if you prefer. Either way the food is delicious and hearty and the bar area has a really nice buzz to it.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I have always loved the space with its high ceilings and large windows. We sat in an alcove in the far inside corner of the restaurant. They did a really smart thing in putting mirrors on the wall there. I didn't feel like I was staring at the wall all evening and managed to see all the action going on behind me, including the carving of the duck, which they now do table-side.
Service has always been an important feature of Danny Meyer restaurants, and the service here was just perfect. They have a huge and knowledgeable staff and all our questions were answered. Among the little things that I thought brought the service up to an even higher level included the fact that everyone was soft-spoken, and that when I walked around the establishment to stretch every now and again, the staff would make eye contact and smile.
But let's get to the food.
We each got to take home a copy of the menu fit into a caviar tin and a box of mignardises fruit jellies.
In total, we were there for 5 hours! I've had many high quality meals and tastings before, but I feel that this was the best fully composed 8+ course meal I've ever had. Many places have tasting menus where it really is about tastes. You taste something, it's novel, you wouldn't want to eat a lot of it, and you move on. Or you taste something and you really want to eat more of it, but they only give you a sliver. The gourmand menu at Eleven Madison Park does not suffer from this problem. It gave me a very satisfying feeling not only of tasting the chef's genius but also of having a full warm meal in my belly. The price pre-t/t was $175pp for the gourmand menu and $34 for my special glass of wine, which is just a really good deal for this quality and amount of food.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The next dish had two components. This one was mackerel marinated with miso paste and served with toasted buckwheat and a meyer lemon confit. This was delicious and the meyer lemon confit was perfect. He really has a way with citrus. Plenty of flavor, but not overpowering.
I thought the majority of the dishes were at a high level in terms of creativity and the matching of flavors and textures. However, I wonder if a meal at L'Astrance would be much better, with ample preparation time and his own kitchen and ingredients.
For Part 1, click here
For Part 3, click here
Sunday, September 20, 2009
A lot of it is about the food though. Sushi Yasuda's pieces are relatively small, with the aim of being able to fit in one bite in most people's mouths. They have a large variety of fish, and will usually have about 5 different types each of salmon, mackerel, yellowtail, and other families. We ate in total about 33 or so pieces of sushi each, so I'll just mention a few of our favorite pieces.
Fluke fin - Yasuda's favorite
Squid face - He said it was part of the face, and it did have a cartilaginous texture at parts which seemed like perhaps the eye socket?
Orange clam - Fresh with great texture
Peace passage oyster - Yasuda only uses this type of oyster, which he says is about two pounds in size. He cuts pieces from it and says that pieces from different parts of the oyster have different tastes and textures.
Scallion sprouts - Great scallion taste and yet just shy of the overpowering spiciness that raw garlic and raw scallions have.
Otoro - I really think he always saves the real nice piece of otoro for regulars. That night's piece was truly amazing, and, as Yasuda himself put it, "looks like (well-marbled) beef!" Here's a picture:
The chef at work:
That's not to say there aren't bad things about Yasuda. When you order omakase with as many pieces as I do, it's not guaranteed that he'll remember everything and bill you correctly. I usually don't care if the number is in the ballpark, although I'm pretty sure that night I paid for a couple pieces that the diners next to us had. In all, we had about 33 or so pieces each and the total with t/t came to $430 for two.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
So here we go.
Good luck to all.
We didn't have much time to look around but here we are on the way to the restaurant.Inside the restaurant is a large center table where they make final preparations and cut the bread. The service was knowledgeable and friendly. The servers were enthusiastic about the available produce and how the produce got to the tables. The runners were ok. The menu options are a 3 course prix fixe, a 5 course tasting menu, and an 8 course farmer's feast. I wanted to make sure we got all the small dishes, so I asked if I needed to supplement the farmer's feast, but our server assured us that all the small plates come with the farmer's feast. I also asked that the meal focus on local animals rather than seafood. My view is that fresh flash-frozen seafood can be shipped anywhere around the world, but that animals should be eaten freshly killed. I didn't come all the way to Stone Barns to eat Maine lobster.
The first of our three meat courses is a dish of chicken breast and thigh from a whole cornish cross hen roasted with sassafras, orange thyme, and dill flower. The chicken was served with lima beans and chicken mushrooms. Being from Hong Kong, I grew up eating fresh chicken. This was some of the tastiest chicken I've ever had. Perfectly moist with crisp skin. For those who say that many things taste like chicken, this does not taste like chicken.
Before the dessert courses, I decided to take a little walk outside to the patio. Having been in the city for so long, breathing in the fresh night air was really nice. It was also nice to look up into the sky and see lots of stars. I could have sworn I heard "baaaaa" from somewhere in the field, though it was too dark to see clearly.
It got too dark to take decent pictures of the desserts, but there were two dessert courses. The first was concord grape puree with anise gelee and fromage blanc sorbet. The second was blackberries with a wheat cake and fruit seed (I think that's what I heard) ice cream. The wheat cake was really interesting with whole grains in the cake texture. Everything was finished off with petit fours including the usual suspects of macaroons, gelee, and chocolate.
I asked our server which time of the year was the best to come, and she started going through the seasons and gushing about all of them. In the end, it depends on which season's ingredients you prefer, but there will always be a great fresh selection here. It was fun watching her being all giddy as she talked about all the wonders of the different seasons. The meal itself was about 375 with t/t including a glass of pinot noir and a coffee. I highly recommend this place to everyone if you can get a reservation, but especially to people who have never had the chance to be out and eat in the countryside.