November 12, 2019

The chef who smiles not, NY edition

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It's been more than 5 years since I was last in New York, and thankfully this time I'm staying a little longer than a day.  Unfortunately for me, I only have 2 nights in town, which really leaves just one slot for dinner.  There was never any question about which restaurant I'd hit, though... and my good friend The Dining Austrian very kindly hooked me up with Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare.

After changing out of my monkey suit into something more comfortable after a full day of meetings, I rushed over to the restaurant only to discover, to my horror, that I actually forgot to wear a jacket to dinner.  So I dutifully donned the loaner from the restaurant, and the two of us took our seats at the large, C-shaped counter.

César Ramirez seems to have a reputation for being a man of few words, although he did stop by and greeted us for more than 3 seconds since he knew one of us was friends with The Dining Austrian.  He never came near us again for the rest of the evening...

We started the evening with a glass of bubbly:

Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Cuvée de Réserve, dégorgée Mai 2019 - a little over-ripe, some acidity here.  Somehow this just wasn't great.

Caviar - a tartlet with wild yellowtail (鰤) topped with Kaluga Queen caviar (no specific type mentioned so I will assume it's huso dauricus), perilla flowers, and sansho leaves (木の芽).  I was surprised at the acidity here, which came from lemon juice on the yellowtail.  That kinda balanced out the salinity coming from the caviar, I guess.

Before we started, one of the servers came over and told us about the white truffle supplement.  Knowing that my friend loves white truffle, I didn't hesitate to say 'Yes'.  I didn't quite catch the price that was mentioned for the supplement, though...

Hokkaido sea urchin - this has always been the signature dish here, although usually there is a single slice of black truffle sitting atop the pile of Hokkaido sea urchin tongues.  THIS was certainly a sight to behold!

And seeing how much white truffle was sitting on top - and experiencing that amazing fragrance that could only have come from top-quality truffle - I knew that I had misheard the price for the supplement...  This wasn't gonna be like that dinner in Geneva last month...

But FUCK IT!  These two bites (because I couldn't take this down in one bite) were GLORIOUS!

Crab - the Norwegian king crab came with preserved tomatoes and gelée.  I'm guessing there was basil oil in the mix as the flavors were pretty intense.  Refreshingly delicious.

Custard - the thickened ham broth came with high acidity and tasted strongly of rosemary, with diced cubes of foie gras custard, black truffle, bacon bits, and burnt shallots.

Langoustine - with quince, blood orange, and dashi (出汁) cream.  The flavors here were very, very Japanese...

Chiba akamutsu - underneath the generous shaving of white truffle was a piece of rosy seabass (赤鯥) from Chiba Prefecture (千葉県) served over koshihikari (こしひかり) rice from Gunma Prefecture (群馬県).  There was obvious acidity in the rice, which came with diced abalone and escargot.  Honestly, the fragrant white truffle was kinda wasted on this dish, as the smokiness of the fish skin overpowered the white diamonds.

Kinmedai - the splendid alfonsino (金目鯛) was lovely, and came with cauliflower, chanterelles, crosnes, turnips, and cuttlefish noodles.

Duck - the duck came from Upstate and the flavors were very nice and strong.  Served with gooseberry purée and trompette de la mort.

Wagyu - the wagyu from Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県) was waaaay too fatty, with too much oil oozing out.  The texture was soft but the grain of the muscle was rough.  Not a course I enjoyed.  Came with maitake (舞茸), eggplant, and black garlic purée.

Pear - I didn't ask what type of pear was used, but it certainly tasted like Anjou with all the minerality.  Loved the pear sorbet on top.  The custard at the bottom came with a fair bit of acidity.

Milk - underneath the Alba white truffle shaved with Microplane was milk ice cream with soy caramel.  Gotta say that little savory kick from the caramel was pretty nice.

Frozen soufflé - made with sobacha (そば茶).

Cake - here we've got a coconut and yuzu (柚子) cake, but I thought the coconut flavors were a little too overpowering.  Of course, the presence of gold foil on top didn't exactly escape me...

Petit four - matcha (抹茶) cream puff.

I was asked to pick out a bottle of red Burg with a specified budget, so I figured this one would do nicely:

2010 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St-Jacques - really fragrant with leather and eucalyptus notes.  One hour later the nose was pretty metallic, and two hours after opening it showed toasty notes.

This was a pretty nice meal.  I appreciated the simple elegance in the cooking, where the dishes aren't overly complicated.  It's really about the quality of the ingredients and straightforward flavors - and that is a very Japanese approach.  I very much look forward to coming back next year... without the white truffle supplement.

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