When T is in town I am ensured many laughs, at least limerick or two, a great conversation, excellent food, and assuredly, a lot of sublime wine.
Around midnight last Friday night, I received the following text:
I am in NY. Want to have lunch tomorrow?
He first suggested Cafe Boulud and then Morrells. I responded with a few other suggestions. After going back and forth, I decided on the venue and sent the following text:
Gotham not open, Morrells too loud, CB better weekdays, Country better on Sunday or brfst so let's go to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (212) 350-6658, 57 E 57th St at the Four Seasons. 2pm ressie under my name at the counter. Adour Alain Ducasse or Bar Boulud not open yet. :)
I've dined at the "Atelier" (means workshop) previously and at my first visit, Mr. Robuchon himself was present. T had not dined yet in NY but he reported that one of his best meals was at the Las Vegas branch.
I walked up the stairs of the Four Seasons to meet T, who was dressed in his signature t-shirt, jacket, and dark pants. He welcomed me with a big smile and kiss. T, who is always early, was reviewing the wine list when I arrived. The wine list is small, well chosen, and relatively expensive. We decided to start with a glass of champagne. Between the 1998 Dom Perignon and Bruno Paillard Rosé, we opted for the rosé, a lovely champagne with strawberries on the nose and palate with just a hint of citrus, reflecting the touch of chardonnay in the cépage.
We were both hungry so we decided to have the 7 course tasting menu, "Menu Decouverte":
* Blue Fin Tuna Tartar, Bergamot Red Pepper Confit with Quail Egg
* Crispy Frog Legs with Garlic Purée and Parsley Coulis
* Day Boat Scallops in their Shell with a Seaweed Butter
* Truffled Langoustine Ravioli with Tender Young Cabbage
* Amadai in Lily Bulb, Yuzu Citrus Broth
* Roast Kobe Beef with Sautéed Shallots and Piquillo Peppers
* Pre Dessert - Coconut Ravioli, Lemon Mascarpone Mousse
* Rice Pudding, Caramelised Apple, Rosemary Ice Cream
* Espresso Coffee Served with a Macaron (we opted for a double espresso!)
T consulted with Emilie, the lovely and knowledgeable sommelier from Roanne. Emilie previously worked at the three star Michellin restaurant Troisgros and the adjoining Relais & Châteaux hotel property. I dined and stayed at Troisgros this summer and I would highly recommend it.
We started with a white burgundy: 2005 Ramonet Puligny Montrachet "Champ Canet". Despite decanting, the wine was young and tight and only began to open up and show some personality after 20 minutes in the glass. It did open but will benefit from additional bottle maturation in order to show its full potential. Aside from the Grand crus Montrachet, Chevalier Montrachet, Batard Montrachet, and Bienvenues Batard Montrachet, the notable premier crus include Les Combettes, Les Folatieres, Les Pucelles, Les Clavoillons, Le Cailleret, and Champ Canet. I love Ramonet and am happy(and lucky) to drink whatever he produces. According to Wine Spectator, Noel Ramonet preferred his 2005 whites to the those of the 2004 vintage. "The difference between '04 and '05 is that '05 is finer. I think '04 is a bit more massive," he said.
As we finished our Amadai, a tilefish, we swirled our second wine, the 1993 Domaine du Comte Armand Pommard "Clos des Epeneaux". I spent some time in Pommard this fall and I have always been a fan of this all red appellation. Pommard has no grand cru but over 25 premier crus with Les Epenots and Les Rugiens being the most notable. The "Clos des Epeneaux" is a monopole. The wine was demure and also a bit rugged but it had already started on its downward trajectory; it tasted like some of its soul had faded.
I was a slightly disappointed with the frog’s leg croquettes as they had an unbalanced ratio of liquid to crust and protein. At my last visit, there was not as much liquid. For future reference, Mai House in Tribeca has the best frog's legs in the city: Frog's legs lollipops with jalapeno aioli.
Both the tuna and kobe beef were excellent. The kobe beef was the perfect portion size, perfectly prepared, with the perfect amount of jus. T didn't finish his serving so I happily ate his remaining half. The accompanying pot of the Robuchon's famous pommes puree was equally sublime: a silky and rich potato heaven; how can one go wrong with a recipe comprised of three parts potato to one part butter?
The afternoon passed quickly. It had been a while since I had seen T so the breadth of our topics were endless and time, a limitation. It was past 4:30pm and the staff was preparing for the next shift. It was time to go. The next meal(foodies are always thinking of our next wine and meal!) was at Alto at 8:30pm. I needed a nap so I walked T to his hotel and took the subway home...
Up next: the wines get even better in the evening!