22 April 2012

A Study in Elegance

Daniel is a gorgeous restaurant.  And very well worth the effort of eating there.  We had heard comments about Daniel from friends that it was "precious" or not as good as other restaurants.  Trish, Mer and I fell hard for it last night.

We like to have our Fancy Supper Club dinners on Saturday nights so that we can enjoy the experience without thinking about work the next day.  Mer has been amazing securing our reservations and she found one for us at 5:45 on Saturday.  It was early but it was nice to come out feeling full but not being close to the end of the day.

I was also super happy that I made it back in time from Germany to attend the dinner.  I purposely booked a flight that landed in NYC at 1 pm.  I didn't count on being in customs for close to 2 hours which is just downright painful.  I've never had a problem like that before.  But I made it out alive and to dinner only 15 minutes late.

Daniel is an elegant restaurant.  I've eaten at two other Daniel Boulud restaurants in NYC - DBGB and DB Bistro Moderne - both fine restaurants but there is a reason that this place is known by the name of Daniel alone.

The service was incredibly attentive and the recommendations given to me were spot on.  The long flight and time difference made this meal number 4 for the day and I wanted something light.  Regardless of my lack of hunger, everything was so good that I finished almost all of it.

Our amuse bouche was a study in beets.  I don't like beets but I liked these beets.  It takes an expensive restaurant to prepare them in a way that I like them.  Lesson learned.

For her starter, Mer ordered the Spring Wild Herb Ravioli with Gorgonzola with wild mushrooms and Mangalitsa prosciutto.

Trish had the Maine Peekytoe Crab Salad with hibiscus gelee, compressed cucumber, mint oil, and anise hyssop salad.  It was incredibly fresh and light.

Everyone at the table voted mine as the best appetizer.  It was the Duck Terrine with Marcona Almond, champagne mango, pickled red onion, and curly mustard salad.  Mer said it tasted like fine French butter and Mer likes eating butter.  It was creamy and perfect.

The girls looking lovely.

We were all happy with our main courses.  I loved mine and knew I wanted it immediately because it had fava beans and ramps.  The pickled ramps made the dish tangy.  I had the Pan-Seared Black Cod with gourgane panisse, fava bean fricassee, pickled ramps, smoked sable and savory jus.  The cod melted in my mouth.

Trish ordered one of the specials which included crusted Tuna.  I wish I had the description of everything that came with it but I do know that it was loved by Trish.

Mer ordered the Sweet Maine Shrimp-Crusted Halibut with garbanzo beans, Thai basil, saffron potato and chorizo emulsion.  It was very earthy.  The server explained that it took a very long time for one of the kitchen staff to shell all of the garbanzo beans on the plate and that we should be able to taste the soul that went into shelling those beans.  Her description made me think of "Like Water For Chocolate" and being able to taste the emotion that went into the cooking of the food.

We were all impressed with the service as each dish was laid in front of us at the same time.  The choreography and the care of accomplishing these tasks was noted.  It's a restaurant where it is obvious that the staff takes pride in the food and the service.

Our desserts never stopped coming.  First off the dessert menu is two pages - one page for chocolate based desserts and the other for fruit based.  It was difficult to decide on which to try.  I commented on how the sorbets and ice creams looked delicious and our server brought out a selection for us to try. 

Mer ate the Warm Guanaja Chocolate Coulant with liquid caramel, fleur de sel, and milk sorbet.  This is one that I would typically order but we agreed to share.  It was delicious though I think we all wanted more caramel in the cake.  

The selection of sorbets - Passion Fruit, Szechuan Pepper and Kenyan Coffee.  I loved the Passion Fruit and Szechuan Pepper.  The latter was much more refreshing than expected.

I love rhubarb and I'm excited it's in season again.  I ate the Confit Rhubarb with vanilla cremeux, sable breton and rhubarb-sauternes ice cream.  The ice cream was my favorite.  It had enough tart to it that made the entire dish.

Trish's dessert was described as an adult Mounds Bar - Chocolate-Coconut Biscuit with caramelia cream, caramel emulsion and coconut sorbet.  The sorbet was something special.

And then we were delivered a basket of warm petite madeleines and a tray of petit fours.   The madeleines were something special.

And then we were given a choice of chocolate truffles.  It was all pretty incredible.

Everything about this meal exceeded expectations.  It was worth coming back early from Germany to eat here.

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