Thursday, August 10, 2006

Restaurant Envy

I've been doing further research to help me select a fantastic (very likely to be three fork) restaurant for DD and I to gorge ourselves at in New York in September. Unfortunately my cunning plan of Gordon Ramsay at London has been thwarted by the likelihood of it not opening until November. And so far my other choice of Per Se has not been successful reservation wise. The problem is I decided that we would eat at either London or Per Se months ago but hadn't actually secured a booking. The banana eating M had waxed lyrical about Per Se after his visit there and I was overcome with restaurant envy. He's already pipped me to the post on Tom Aiken and the Fat Duck so I thought I'd win some foodie points back with a brand new Gordon Ramsay - a cunning plan indeed!
So for further inspiration I consulted Chez Pim as I knew she'd have some excellent ideas and read a posting about Michelin initiating their star system in New York last year. And the four restaurants awarded the coveted three stars were: Per Se, Alain Ducasse, Le Bernardin and Jean-Georges. So that seems a reasonable place to start!
Le Bernardin The food at Le Bernardin looked really fabulous but whether they've got a strange photo on their site I don't know, but the decor looked really uninspired and reminded me of a hotel bedroom. Maybe harsh as restaurants that I love like Rhodes24 often have a very simple style and lets the amazing view (and stunning food, naturally!) provide the colour and ambiance. I read a review where they referred to Bernardin as a 'blue velvet heaven' and I expected opulence, crystal chandeliers and swathes of blue velvet. However, I can't see any velvet or chandeliers. I hope they weren't referring to the fact that there's a creepy man sat in the corner of the restaurant breathing heavily with an oxygen mask! I'm sure not!
Jean-Georges – Trump Tower Certainly the décor looks more inspired but where is the menu on their site, surely that’s quite fundamental in making a restaurant decision? I’ve read some good reviews but I will reserve judgement until I can lay my hands on their prestige tasting menu etcetera.
Alain Ducasse at Essex House This website looks a lot more promising; I can see the restaurant which looks very nice and also a very interesting tasting menu. I was also intrigued to read that Alain Ducasse’s staff receive movement lessons from a choreographer and they have custom made knives of damascened steel. A damascened steel knife will have an interesting ‘water’ mark that almost makes it look like the knife is covered in a thin layer of oil. All very appealing!
So some food for thought but the quest continues! Maybe I should cast my net wider and look at the two and one starred restaurants. The two starred restaurants of New York are: Bouley, Daniel, Danube and Masa. And Annisa, Aureole, Babbo, BLT Fish, Café Boulud, Café Gray, Craft, Cru, Etats-Unis, Fiamma Osteria, Fleur de Sel, Gotham Bar and Grill, Gramercy Tavern, JoJo, Jewel Bako, La Goulue, Lever House, Lo Scalco, March, Nobu, Oceana, Peter Luger, Picholine, Saul, Scalini Fedeli, Spotted Pig, The Modern, Veritas, Vong, Wallsé and WD-50 have one star apiece.
Daniel I’ve heard good things about Daniel before. Currently the summer menu is heavily populated with tomato dishes and I would probably have to tip toe around it less if we had the autumn menu. I’ll have to see when the autumn menu kicks in.
Bouley and Danube share the same chef, namely David Bouley. And both restaurants share an unusual feature with regards to tasting menus, having choice. Most of the tasting menus I’ve had will have a set chef’s choice with a possible choice of two main courses. So with the likely exception of a little tweaking (i.e. tomato removal), you eat what the chef reckons will best demonstrate their skill. And even with quite an extensive food black list like myself I have been not just pleasantly surprised but totally blown away on many occasions. Both menus sound extremely appealing so a very definite maybe here. I heard of David Bouley years ago because I recall seeing Jamie Oliver in his New York Christmas special of the Naked Chef programme did a ‘stage’ at Danube and then had chef David Bouley round for a festive feast. And though there aren’t pictures of the restaurants on his site – it’s all about food and frankly quite rightly so but I was intrigued to read Danube being described as ‘an opulent jewel box of an Austro-Hungarian restaurant is an over-the-top delight’. Hmmm, DD and I will fill right in there!
Masa And again, a Jamie Oliver reference, he said on his site that he’d had fantastic sushi there. Sushi isn’t my favourite so I’ll probably stick to the French influences instead!

I haven’t been able to research all the one stars yet but I’ve also been given the very interesting suggestion of the Chanterelle restaurant which certainly looks the part, is suitably French and has a good menu. And I know someone who should be able to get us a table! So many decisions to make and so little time to eat all that amazing food. I am waiting to hear about Per Se but if the answer is no, I think we can select something from this lot.
What do you think DD? Are you hungry?


DD said...

J, I am starved after every read of this fab blog! I know I am in capable hands - so I'll leave the hunt up to you... What about JoJo's? See you soon! DDx

J said...

I'm glad you're salivating!
I'll check out JoJo's - good name!

Anonymous said...

Jo - had the BEST (and most expensive...eeek) meal of my life at March...did the tasting menu with my husband. First time in my life I truly understood the purpose wine serves when paired with food - outside of the obvious, that is...