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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Never Met an Amuse-Bouche I Didn't Like

... until tonight.

One of the many pleasures of working in a completely new neighborhood is getting to discover all the neighborhood bars, eateries and gems... Last night I made my first stop at The Oak Room. It was fine enough--even with its $88 Manhattan, and mini ice cream cones (please, let's keep it classy). I also peeked into Jumeirah Essex House's South Gate (beautiful dining room) and Marea, just east of Columbus Circle (wonderful menu), but tonight, stopped at yet another restaurant, lying just adjacent to Columbus Circle.

Upon passing through gold-trimmed doors, I was welcomed by a warm front door staff. I told the maître d' I was just 'there for a quick drink' to which a hostess escorted me to a pair of open bar stools. I started with a glass of Napa Valley sparkling Domaine Carneros ($15), which was rather flawless (for an American sparkling) and after a brief chat with one of the managers, decided upon ordering foie gras brûlée. ($19)

A few minutes after placing my order, I was presented with an amuse-bouche, "compliments of the chef." Having had only a handful of amuse-bouches in my lifetime (they usually only come gratis, or with a tasting menu), I'd never met an amuse-bouche I didn't like--until tonight. Not having ordered it, I don't remember its exact description, but I do remember: on the left, a 'crispbread' with wholegrain mustard, topped with a quarter of a baby radish; and on the right, a warm carrot soup, topped with a dribble of what seemed to resemble pesto oil. I wasn't an avid fan of it--but after all, it was complimentary.

Next, the foie gras brûlée arrived, served with pineapple-meyer lemon jam on the side. As I sliced my first taste of the foie gras brûlée, set upon a slice of brioche, I was near-dazzled as foie gras seeped out the crevices of the brûlée shell. Dressed with the pineapple-meyer lemon jam, it was "above pleasant." The manager I spoke with earlier stopped back to check on me to which I replied, "I would have a double order of this--with some greens--as an entrée..." As I worked on my second glass of Domaine, the bartender placed a dessert spoon at the northern end of my place mat and I knew that a third course would be coming.

Yet another unordered item, "compliments of [the manager]," I don't recall its exact description. But I do recall: hazelnut cream and raspberries. It, like the amuse-bouche, didn't do much for me. But I did appreciate the gesture. Of course, I won't tell you how or why I received all this PPX service (that would be giving away my secrets) and I won't tell you where it all took place. But if you can put two and two together (like you may have, regarding where I had previously worked) you can probably figure out where I was. Although the two floor managers I'd spoken with that evening said to me, "You're welcome anytime!"--I'll probably just stick to The Oak Room. So far, it's my 'new neighborhood' favorite place...
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