Showing posts with label michelin star. Show all posts
Showing posts with label michelin star. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Junoon, a Michelin-starred Indian? (New York)

An Indian restaurant with a Michelin star? I couldn't really imagine it with the Indian places in LA, but I'm sure London would have plenty great restaurants and it seems like NYC is trying to catch up with Chef Vikas Khanna's Junoon.

Lunch was a great opportunity to dip our feet into Junoon, with their $24 deal for 3 course prix-fixe (limited menu) or $38 for 3 course a la carte prix-fixe (can order from the entire menu). The spacious and lavish decor is certainly Michelin-star worthy.

I was curious about the dishes on the regular menu, so I had the a la carte prix fixe while my companions ordered the $24 deal. For the appetizer, I went with the Adraki Bater (quail marinated in cumin, ginger juice, and lime juice)

Adraki Bater
These tandoori quail may be my favorite dish that we tried. It was both interesting and very flavorful and moist.

DestinationEats ordered the Piri Piri Shrimp in a Goan chili sauce with avocado and jicama salad
PiriPiri Shrimp
Not as spicy as Indian food can be but packed with spices nonetheless, and the shrimp were well cooked.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer Guest Chef Series at Melisse

There's no word on 5x5 dinners this year, but Chef Josiah Citrin of Melisse won't leave you hanging. This summer he has invited his fellow Michelin-starred chefs around the country for one-night stints at Melisse, where they will prepare a special 5-course menu.

Here's the chef line-up:

Sunday, June 27th
Chef Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley


Monday, July 26th
Chef April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig in New York


Monday, August 23rd
Chef David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos


Local Chef Ray Garcia of Fig in Santa Monica will be preparing an amuse bouche for each of the dinners

Each menu will be priced at $150 per person (tax and gratuity not included)
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Special Olympics

For reservation please call 310-395-0881 or visit OpenTable.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NYC: Eleven Madison Park Tasting Menu

The best dinner of my last NYC trip? Easy. Eleven Madison Park.

"Taste of Autumn" menu - $125 (yes, this was back in late November - a belated post) in a art deco dining room with magnificently high ceilings. It's quiet, it's classy. Frank Bruni gave Executive Chef Daniel Humm's food four stars before leaving NY Times, so I came with high expectations. Luckily, they were met.

Warm gougeres to start the meal that will be marked by courteous and professional service.

A plate of pretty and whimsical amuse bouches came immediately after: beet marshmallow, foie gras pate, fried sweetbread mini come (and another which escapes me at the moment).

Hawaiian Prawns Roulade with avocado, lime, and yogurt
First impression: gorgeous. Lasting impression: a delicious play of crisp prawns and the smooth and creamy avocado, both of which were so fresh their flavors scarcely needed the yogurt.

Sea urchin cappuccino with Peekytoe crab.
The uni here contributed to a rich creaminess, but the flavor did not come out as strongly (to the delight of my companion, who didn't like uni all that much).

Dover Sole. Slow cooked with Matsutake sabayon and Nasturtium.
Firm yet moist and tender, the Dover Sole's texture was little overwhelmed by the creamy sabayon, but the flavors worked quite well.

Four Story Hill Farm Suckling Pig Confit with spiced plum chutney, cipollini onions and cider jus.
Tender confit topped with crisped crunchy skin. The spiced plum chutney was both interesting and had nice flavors, but was perhaps unnecessary for this confit. The combination was a bit too rich and sweet. Regardless, the confit itself was excellent.

Millbrook Farms Venison, herb roasted with gingerbread puree, porcini, and black mission figs.
See how pink it is in the center? Loved it. It's tender, it's almost rare, it's a little gamey, it's perfect. The venison and the figs were a winning combination.

As a palate cleanser, "Kir Royale" on a ceramic pillow. Cassis, meringue, champagne emulsion.
A light palate cleanser that did its job nicely.
Oh and that ceramic pillow almost fooled me. Good thing I didn't break it :P

Araguani Chocolate Ganache with Sweet Potato Dauphine and Chestnut Honey.
A rich and decadent Valrhona ganache will get my vote anytime, but the sweet potato dauphine was surprisingly good for me who was never all that big on sweet potato (I like it but I don't love it like many people I know).

Mignardises involved macarons and chocolates.
Some of the macaron flavors were almost as whimsical as the amuse bouches: violet, peanut butter and jelly, black sesame.
The chocolate truffles also involved me going "Ohh, hmm ..." when they asked me which flavors I wanted.

A box of fruit jelly for the ladies to take home. My snack for the next two days.

It wasn't just the food. It was the space, the service. After rushing around the city, I felt calm and relaxed dining here, but never were we waiting too long for the next course slightly annoyed. The food itself deserved three or four stars. One Michelin star? If you ask me I'd give them at least two.


Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-0905
www.elevenmadisonpark.com
Eleven Madison Park on Urbanspoon
Eleven Madison Park in New York

Friday, March 5, 2010

SF: Tasting Menu at Coi

A while back I dined at the bar at Coi when I was in SF. The two-star Michelin restaurant came recommended by KevinEats. Reserving a table in the dining room restricts you to the tasting menu while dining at the bar you can do either tasting or a la carte. Not knowing what my companion would want, I reserved a table at the bar, but we ended up going with the tasting menu after all.

Both the bar and the dining room areas are small, so do make a reservation if you plan to go.

The tasting menu started with a light granita-like creation:
#1: "Summer, frozen in time" (plum, frozen meringue, yogurt)
With a slight saltiness, it was less sweet than your typical palate cleanser.

Half of the second dish bore a resemblance to the first:
#2: Melon and cucumber (mint)
These were again slightly salty, unexpectedly so upon hearing "melon and cucumber". For me the saltiness took away from both fruits' refreshing quality.

The meal took a major turn for the better for my tastes as we moved to the savory dishes.
#3: California Caviar, farm egg, creme fraiche, brioche, chive.
Chicken egg+fish egg=win. Having mixed the runny egg with the creme fraiche, I simply could not resits cleaning the plate completely using my crisp, toasted brioche.

#4: Inverted cherry tomato tart (black olive, basil)
Yet another great dish. The beautiful fresh cherry tomatoes are sandwiched between the black olive "crackers". A winner both in flavor and texture combination.

#5: Chilled eggplant soup (fresh and shelling beans, preserved lemon, summer savory)
This was a very well prepared soup albeit it is overshadowed by the other great dishes that night.

#6: Monterey bay abalone grilled on the plancha (nettle dandelion salsa verde, spicy breadcrumbs, lemon zest)
This was an excellent savory dish, and probably one of the best dish I've had in SF to date. The fresh and chewy abalone had a hint of smokiness. And the nettle dandelion salsa verde? Uncannily good.

#7: "Earth and Sea" (steamed tofu mousseline, yuba, fresh seaweeds, mushroom dashi)
Yuba is dried bean curd skin and Coi uses the one from Hodo Soy Beanery. A light soup that provided a lovely semi-rest period before our main "entree".

#8: Slow-roasted lamb (chard leaves and stems, garum, rosemary)
The tender pink meat was encased in a layer of fat, keeping all the juices in.

#9: Cheese course. Cavatina goat cheese with mission figs, arugula.
The Cavatina is a goat's milk cheese aged 3 weeks with ash rind, made by cheesemaker Soyoung Scanlan (chef Patterson seems to use this cheesemaker's products often) from Adante Dairy. I really loved this cheese. Smooth and firm, it went perfectly with the figs.

#10: Blackberry Bramble (peach, toasted saffron cake, wild fennel, sorrel)
While the individual components of this dessert were excellent, the overall taste was reminiscent of the amuse and the first appetizer - lightly fruity yet a bit salty. At this point I felt that this fruity/salty combination is too overwhelming for the meal as a whole. It had, in other words, became boring.

#11: Milk Chocolate and Salted Caramel
This was more like it. Although the salted caramel made for yet another sweet/salty dish, it was balanced by the richness of the rest of the dish and made for a dessert more compatible to my tastes.

The sweet/salty theme did get us a bit bogged down by the end, but as this did not seem to be an issue in other meals I've read about, I wondered if it was an experimental phase ... Nonetheless, the savory dishes at Coi are undeniably good and stand strong on their own. Some of these dishes remained the most memorable out of all my meals in San Francisco.


Coi
373 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 393-9000
www.coirestaurant.com
Coi on Urbanspoon
Coi in San Francisco

Saturday, May 30, 2009

NYC: Gramercy Tavern

I've been making my Michelin rounds in NYC. Gramercy Tavern was another amazing dinner from my last NYC trip back in November. With a much more casual ambiance than Jean Georges or Le Bernardin, this was the perfect choice for our big group dinner, as we can all talk and enjoy ourselves.

Gramercy Tavern only had one big table (bigger than 6) so the only time we were able to snatch a reservation for 8 was at 5:45 pm since there was another party coming later that night. We stayed waaay late and felt bad for the incoming party, but they didn't rush us at all. Instead of the tasting menu, we went with the prix-fixe $86 for 3 courses.

As usual, some of the first courses made it around the table so we can all sample.
Veal Cappelletti (Cauliflower and sage)
Tender and flavorful veal with al dente pasta. I liked the slightly herb-y sauce due to the sage. In a cold night in NYC, this was one satisfying comfort food. This was a good start and a good intro to the Gramercy Tavern meal. Simple, flavorful, well-executed.

Black Tagliatelle (chorizo, mussels, and calamari)
The black tagliatelle is typically made black using squid or cuttlefish ink, which also adds another layer of flavor. I only had a bit of this dish but really enjoyed it. The calamari was nice and chewy and went very well with the pasta.

Lamb Pappardelle (Olives, lemon confit, swiss chard)
This was another great dish with shreds of tender lamb. It was very flavorful, if not a tad salty. As a warning, the last two pasta dish was definitely a little on the salty side, but not overwhelmingly so.

For my second course, I ordered the Sea Bass (spaghetti squash, sherry sauce)
This is rather unlike me to order a fish (instead of my usual red meat), but boy was I glad I did! In my opinion, this was the best dish of the night! The fish was very moist and had a great texture, and I absolutely loved how it paired with the spaghetti squash! Compared to the first courses, the sauce here is slightly more delicate but still has a lot of flavor. This was definitely a hit.

As far as desserts go, there were two that stand out. The first stood out because it's unique and interesting:
Coconut Tapioca (Passionfruit and coconut sorbet, passionfruit caramel, and cilantro syrup)
I thought this was a creative and well-executed dessert. The flavor is fairly light. I like the flavor combination - the cilantro added a refreshing kick for me (though I know some people don't like cilantro).

The second stood up simply because of how awesome it was:
Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding (Cacao Nib ice cream)
It was warm. It was a gooey rich chocolatey goodness. It was comfort food dessert to the max. Simply put, it was an amazing chocolate bread pudding.

We finished off with a nice little plate of petit fours.
Gramcercy Tavern was a no fuss meal. No foam, no spherical liquid. Just straight-up a delicious and satisfying meal you enjoy among friends. It's a total comfort food for me back in that freezing New York "fall".

Gramercy Tavern Reserve Now!
42 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-0777
www.gramercytavern.com
Gramercy Tavern on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ad Hoc: Thomas Keller's Comfort Food

My trip up to the Northern Cal so I can have my first meal at The French Laundry turned out to be the best food weekend ever (so far). The night before, we tried out Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's 'comfort food' restaurant (most well known for their fried chicken!).

Ad Hoc was originally meant to be a temporary restaurant, to be opened while they're designing a different restaurant to be opened in that space (hence the name, and the motto "for temporary relief from hunger").
5 nights our of the week, Ad Hoc offers a different 4-course menu for $49, served family style and meant to be shared.

I was putting this post off in the hope that I one day will find the menu that I seem to have misplaced somewhere. But not long after I posted the review (a few hours only), a Chowhounder immediately noticed that I was there on 1/31 and posted the menu! The awesomeness of the internet.

Our meal started off with the TFL Garden Broccoli Salad, white cauliflower, toasted almonds, sweet vidalia onions, cara cara oranges, shaved brioche croutons.
There aren't mere broccoli (blogger is telling me that 'broccolis' isn't grammatically correct), people, these babies came straight from The French Laundry garden down the street. And my god, these are the best broccoli ever. It's very juicy, moist, and sweet, unlike other broccoli I've ever had which are typically boring and bland.
At Ad Hoc you can always ask for seconds, but my friends told me not to get seconds yet, since we have a lot more coming ...

Our main course was Roasted Beef Skirt Steak, braised hearts of romaine, tomato-pepper soffritto
Now, the thing I love about this particular cut is how flavorful it is. On the other hand, it tends to be tougher than most cuts which is why some people don't like them. But not these babies. Somehow they've managed to turn these skirt steaks into some amazingly tender pieces of meat, yet still retain the flavorfulness that is skirt steak. Amazing!

The main entree came with a side dish of spiced sweet carrots and shiitake mushrooms.
The carrots were again tender and sweet. Delicious. I justified myself getting seconds of this because it's healthy and carrots are good for my strained eyes :P

Next dish is the cheese course, Silver Mountain Clothbound Cheddar.
It was firm and smooth with a subtle taste and aroma. I enjoyed it with the slice of apple (one per person) but the red cabbage didn't do it for me.

For the grand finale, a gargantuan Baked Alaska! A dome of vanilla ice cream on top of sponge cake, baked in meringue.
I'm not sure this photo does it justice. This thing was HUGE. It was about half a basketball, with meringue on top! There were five of us - who all eat a lot- and we barely managed to finish half.

An extremely enjoyable and memorable meal. That oh-so-tender-and-flavorful skirt steak and those broccolis ... man! The casual atmosphere was perfect for catching up with friends and stuffing ourselves to death. Can't wait to return to Ad Hoc.


Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-2487
www.adhocrestaurant.com

Ad Hoc on Urbanspoon
ad hoc in San Francisco

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Finally. The French Laundry.

I finally got the call. It was so unexpected I didn't even answer it for the first 2 times (hey, I didn't recognize the number). But there it was. They had a cancellation for a Sunday lunch, would I like to take it? Mmmm (do I want to spend the money right now, do I want ...) YES. So there it was. I was going to The French Laundry!! The aspiration that had seemed so elusive before is now coming true! :)

I decided to fly up Saturday and along with some friends hit up Chez Panisse, Ad Hoc, and then finally French Laundry. But I'll talk about the other ones later on .. :)

Sunday afternoon, we drove up the long, windy roads through the mountain to Yountville.

The host led us up to the second floor and into one of the dining rooms there. It was such a nice day out and they had the windows open.Since this is a special meal after all, I got a couple glasses of wine (no pairing - hey it's still early). I got a red: Martinelli "Jackass Vineyard" Zinfandel, 2004 Russian River Valley which is actually a special bottling exclusively for French Laundry.
For the white I Got a 1998 Rioja Blanco: Lopez de Heredia "Vina Gravonia" (Spain, of course).

For starters, we were served a small choux pastry filled with gruyere cheese.

Next is their salmon cornet, that you're supposed to eat like eating an ice cream cone.
The whole cone shape made the salmon to cone skin ratio vary as you eat it ... but the salmon itself was great and flavorful.

The celebrated Oysters and Pearls was not on the menu that day, so I asked if I could pretty please substituted it in. The waiter graciously said they would check with the kitchen and shortly after informed me that yep! No problem at all, oysters and pearls for moi!
Such an excellent dish, I can definitely see why this is Thomas Keller's most famous dish. The oysters were small because they were trimmed down, but they were definitely of great quality. In fact, everything in this dish was excellent and work together amazingly.

Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Island Creek Oyster Glaze and White Sturgeon Caviar
This was good, although after having the oysters and pearls, I just wanted more of the first one! :)

All the bread served here are, naturally, from Bouchon bakery. We had two different types of butter, one salted and the other sweet and unsalted, from a local dairy.

For the second course, we also had two options, #1: Salad of French Laundry Garden Broccoli (sunchokes, Marcona almonds and Perigord Truffle Coulis)

The broccoli, and probably many of the other vegetables, came from their own garden, located across the street from the restaurant. You can see it from the balcony of the 2nd floor (where many people go out to take pictures from).
Right across the street, how local can you get? :P Broccolis were excellent - freshest and sweetest ones I've ever had (well, minus the same broccolis I had at Ad Hoc the night before, where we got to have much more of em - more on that later).

Choice #2 ($30 supplement): Moulard Duck "Foie Gras en Terrine" with Hawaiian hearts of palm, Piedmont hazelnuts, Hosui pear, Mizuna and white honey.
I had anticipated this after reading other reviews and opinions, but yes, French Laundry's foie gras terrine is the best foie gras terrine I have ever had.

The terrine was served with a toasted brioche bread and three different salts on the side (they said this is to add texture). One salt was from the sea of Japan and the other (the pink-ish one) was some million-year moon rock salt (OK, I'm not sure abt the million year ...)
Terrine on brioche toast, spread a bit of the white honey, then sprinkle a teeny bit of salt - delicious!!

3rd course, Choice #1: Grilled Pave of Kindai Bluefin Tuna (Potato, radish and cucumber salad, jidori hen egg and preserved lemon "Aigre-Doux")
A great meaty piece of tuna. The middle part is still nicely rare. As far as grilled fish go, this one was excellent.

3rd course, Choice #2: Sea of Japan Bigfin Squid (Globe artichokes, Satsuma mandarins, red mustard leaves and thyme vinaigrette)
Squid was firm and chewy. The combination with the satsuma mandarin was nice and interesting both taste and texture-wise.

4th course: Sweet Butter-poached Maine Lobster Tail (Fennel bulb, "Panisse," Nicoise Olive, sweet pepper essence, and Noilly Prat emulsion)
This lobster tail was absolutely amazing. It's poached perfectly and had an incredible texture that I can only aspire to taste from time to time. I didn't care much about the fennel etc on the side there. I just wanted to slowly devour and enjoy this perfect lobster tail.

5th course: Thomas Farms Squab with Belgian endive, glazed cranberries, red beets, and watercress.
A very game-y (and very lean) squab, as we had expected from FL but on the other hand wasn't so expecting from a "Farm" squab.

6th course: "Blanquette" of Marcho Farms nature-fed veal (Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms, Nantes carrots and green garlic).
The blanquette includes veal tongue (left) and sweetbread (upper right)

7th course: "Tomme du Berger" with Cipollini Onion, Musquee de Provence pumpkin coulis, brussels sprouts and Maple-pecan Sable.
I liked the cheese with the maple-pecan sable but the rest of it was not sweet enough to go with the cheese, IMHO. The cheese was semi-hard and on the mild side, so I didn't think the brussels sprout and onion were good pairings. Something sweeter/saltier would've been better.

8th course: Ruby Red Grapefruit Sorbet, with pistachio "Pain de Genes" and Mascarpone.
The sorbet was great, light and refreshing. Perfect palate cleanser. I'm ambivalent about the pistachio cake though, since it make the whole thing a bit heavier and hence not quite as refreshing.

9th course/Dessert option #1: Braised Golden Pineapples, with spiced sweet rice beignets, dark raisin coulis, and long pepper sherbet.
The spotlight here is on the pineapples, which are sweet and delicious, but didn't seem like there were enough of them :P It wasn't very 'satisfying'.

9th course/Dessert Option #2: "Mousse au Chocolat Amedei" with Gros Michel banana ice cream, candied cashews and curry "Arlette".
A nice rich chocolate mousse. I guess I needed a good amount of sweetness at the end, but anyway I thought this one was more satisfying than the first!

We'd seen everyone else getting this next dessert although it's not on the menu, so when they asked if we wanted to try their "coffee and donuts" we said "sure, what's another dish!"
Apparently the "coffee" was coffee mousse! Good thing I hadn't tried to pick it up and sip it! That would've been embarassing :P Donuts were good - nice and light. Since it wasn't actual *coffee* I decided to get some mint tea to get with the rest of my desserts/mignardises.

As the last part of our meal, we were presented with the mignardise, presented in a beautiful layered tray.
Oh oh but wait, there's MORE! We also got a small dish filled with crunchy chocolate macadamias. And while we're munching at those, one of the servers came bearing a silver tray of gorgeous chocolates. From left to right they were: banana, yogurt, coconut, mm ... something?, passionfruit, and peanut butter. Sigh ... you guys want me to choose? What torture ...




Having felt pretty good and full after the 9th course, they managed to completely stuff me with chocolates :P

BTW, we witnessed a proposal and the other ladies in the dining room started tearing up and one of the waiters dashed around with a tray of Kleenexes (for the ladies first, and then jokingly to everyone else after :P ).
This meal was definitely quite an experience.
Everything from ambiance to service to food preparation were excellent. With the nice breeze coming through the windows - relaxing in Napa over amazing French food was quite the luxury.

The French Laundry
6640 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-2380
www.frenchlaundry.com

French Laundry on Urbanspoon

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