So anyway, we are pretty much at TWC 4 times a week, and eat at Bouchon ALL the time, so we went in knowing we like Thomas Keller on those fronts...
To start off, the entrance the restaurant is super cute, with a bright blue faux door and sliding glass on the sides. Very neat. Wish I took a picture but just google it :)
However once inside, I was pretty upset for two reasons:
1. We weren't told my husband *needed* a jacket. Come on he was wearing dress pants and Hugo Boss from head to toe and they said he needed a loaner jacket. Bullshit. At least it was also Boss Black, and fit him nicely.
It is a bit staid in this modern NY to have such a dress code. If you want your food to be modern and "metro", there should be some adjustments to the social climate, it is the UWS after all, not a banker establishment.
2. To add insult to injury the first 4 top we see has two children at it (I am not kidding) with no jackets, so come on. I hate pretentious crap.
On to the dinner:
We didn't take pictures of our drinks but I got the Firefly and husband got the Crown Jewel, both were insanely delicious. The Crown Jewel has great basil notes that really complemented the gin based cocktail.
Salmon tartar cones, husband really enjoyed these, and while the texture was crisp yet creamy, I am not a fan of salmon so I didn't love it.
Husbands choice was the Tsar Imperial Osetra Caviar- Scottish Langoustine Carpaccio and smoked creme fraiche. I must add this was a +$75 to the menu, which I think was a bit gauche. Husband enjoyed it and said some of the best caviar he ever had. It was beautifully presented and looked like the cutest edible terrarium :)
My choice was the Oysters and Pearls. Let me just say this butter sauce was out of control. So creamy and rich to offset the briny caviar and oysters, and the tapiocas where such nice texture. After tasting mine, husband wishes he got this too.
LOVED when one of our many attentive waiters put this on the table. After a slight handslap for peeking too soon he revealed these salts from around the world! I only remember there was two from Hawaii (one from the volcanic Big Island and one from Haleakala!) and one from Montana, I think there was an Australia one, but not sure. Anyway, each had a subtly different flavor from the next and we had him leave these on the table for the whole meal to use for our bread and butter (sourdough rolls, pretzels and the classic "wheat" shaped rolls that Bouchon has)
Husband choice: Hearts of Peach Palm salad, sunchoke panna cotta, rhubarb, celery and black truffle coulis. The truffle was amazing, rich and nutty mixed with the bright flavors of the salad, was quite tasty. Refreshing yet satisfying.
My choice, "Torchon" of Elevages Perigord Moulard Duck Foie Grass with buckwheat streusel, granny smith apples, young onions, mache, and vanilla gastrique.
Foie gras and apples, not something I haven't seen a million times (Jungsik did this combination MUCH better in my opinion), but was very good. The vanilla gastrique was pleasantly potent and went nicely with the rich foie gras, which was served with a brioche bun. This also was a supplement ($40). While very, very delicious, I wish they had cut the portion in half and did away with the surcharge. After a while it felt like my mouth need a cleanse from all the fat and that really took away some of the specialness of this dish. Also, I would prefer a nice lobe a la Bouley over this preparation any day of the week, but to each his own.
Charcoal grilled Spanish mackerel, green garlic, turnips, cilantro, and bonita nuage (aka foam). This was good, the fish had a nice char on it and the bonita flavor came trough delicately in the foam. The cilantro was a bit overpowering in some bites, but I didn't mind, as I love cilantro. Overall, good, but not blowing my socks off good.
Do not get this drink. Underwhelming, I liked the concept of the apple slice as a olfactory element, but the other drinks are much better.
Butter poached Lobster with semolina rigatini, english peas, romaine lettuce ribs, parmesan crisp, basil/olive oil. This was creamy, and rich. The peas gave the over dish a relaxed comforting vibe and the rigatini gave a nice heartiness. However, the ribs were unnecessary and added nothing to the dish. If a crisp component was necessary I think it could have been better thought out with something with ANY flavor profile. The WOW to this dish was the grated tuna heart! Those little specks had all the briny flavor of the ocean in ONE SPECK. Certainly interesting, I never had tuna heart before, as I told the server he looked taken aback, as to say "What do you mean you never had tuna heart?!" Haha.
Rabbit shoulder crusted in marcona almonds with parsley shoots and brown butter meyer lemon mousseline. This was my husband favorite dish this far, but I didn't LOVE it. While I though the mousseline was fabulous, rich and bright, it completely overpowered the delicate rabbit. The rich mousseline mixed with the marcona almond crust, it just did not let the rabbit shine, and as I know from watching Top Chef, you need to let your proteins be the star of your dish!
Rib-eye of veal with sweetbreads, black trumpet mushrooms, carrots, artichokes, and "sauce blanquette". This was probably my favorite of the savory dishes. The veal was so tender and smooth and the sauce was rich yet not overpowering. The sweetbreads added a wonderful sweet, fatty component, which went nicely with the lean veal. Overall this was a very balanced and beautiful dish and even though I usually do not like mushrooms, this was very delicious.
Cabra Romero (a Spanish goats milk cheese), Bacon, dates, caramelized salsify, frisee, maple syrup. Let me just say, my husband and I are bacon and cheese connoisseurs, frequents of BBQ joints and several months of Artisanal cheese delivery, we know what we like and what we don't. We did not like this. The cheese really had no distinct herby notes and really tasted like a white cheddar (not kidding), I think something a little more bold or a little richer could have been used here. The bacon was tough. We had a fresh set of silver for every single course and at this point I was just wishing they gave me a knife with a decent edge to cut this bad boy, because hacking at it with a glorified butter knife just wasn't cutting it (pun intended). The bacon fat did not melt in my mouth, the lean parts did not have that good, hearty, meaty, smokey flavor, and to be honest I have had better bacon slabs at Wildwood Barbeque on Park Ave South, natch.
At this point I was ready for a palate refresher and I almost forgot to take a picture of this wonderful granite, which was sooo delicious. Made with hedricks gin atop dragonfruit and greek yogurt, it was heaven for my over stimulated taste buds. I may have been biased because I LOVE gin and the dragonfruit brought me back to Next Thailand's famous whole dragonfruit course, but the whole thing was just delightful.
White Grapefruit "pamplemousse blanc", with vanilla genoise, grapefruit cream, anise, olive oil sorbet- husband's choice. In the bowl is a sort of "grapefruit consomme," it was the essence of grapefruit in a liquid and was amazing. I wanted to steal it away! The main dish was creamy and refreshing at the same time, overall pretty much the prefect follow up to the gratine and the rich mains.
Salted chocolate spanish peanuts, smoked chocolate pudding, peanut butter nougat, graham cracker ice cream. This was rich. The nougat could have had a slightly better texture (was a bit too spongey) but the flavors were a complex version of the classic chocolate/peanut butter, no doubt thanks to the smoked pudding. The presentation was decadent and gorgeous.
The Final Extras
Macarons, truffles, fudge, chocolate coated hazelnuts (amazing), "coffee" cream with doughnuts, creamsicle bites, and our choice of chocolates from The Box. Hats off to our server for remembering EVERY SINGLE CHOCOLATE in that box, I think there was 18 or 24 in all. I chose the chocolate hazelnut (basic, but as expected), the smoked cinnamon chocolate (pretty good), the mojito (good, but a bad choice for the palate in comparison to my other choices), and the dark chocolate balsamic (SING FROM THE HEAVENS amazing. I would drink straight balsamic and this was balsamic flavor overload. Amazing).
At the end we were given little goodie bags with mini swizzle sticks, caramel, and nougat. Nice touch to get us over the staggering bill!
Overall, the meal was good, just not amazing. For the same price as Alinea, where I left floating down the street in bliss, I left here a bit let down and a bit guilty. I like a bit more innovation in my outrageously priced meals, and while not everything needs to be molecular gastronomy, I would like to see some creative flavor profiles here. If all I was impressed by was the vanilla gastrique, some sourced salts, gin gratine, and the tuna heart...I think that equates to never coming back. Also, the server in the beginning was very cagey when I asked about either wine pairings or non-alcoholic pairings. She weakly suggested she would suggest some wines, it was weird. Was my server just slow to jump or does Per Se really not offer a set wine pairing?! I fin the latter hard to believe...I was disappointed on that front and just stuck to my cocktails and teas.
Well! Onto the Next... (pun intended....)