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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

First Taste at KTCHN

Chef Dale Schnell tops west coast oysters with leek fondue, basil caviar  
and champagne sauce

Ever since gay-nightlife promoters John Blair and Beto Sutter opened the city's first 'gay (and straight-friendly) hotel' aptly named "The OUT NYC," the gay community's remained abuzz with the urban resort's goings-on. Last Friday was the highly-anticipated opening of its in-house restaurant, "KTCHN." I went to see what it was all about...

EVER since The OUT's opening earlier this year, I'd been keeping tabs on the details of "KTCHN 510"--its name in an earlier incarnation--previously slated to open "post [March 1st]." The first tidbit I'd learned was that KTCHN would be "brought to you by the founders of the famed eatery nyc..." It didn't sound as highbrow as I was hoping for. Yet, I continued to keep tabs on the restaurant's developments. Mid April, the New York Times announced in its "Off the Menu" column that KTCHN will have Dale Schnell... formerly of Picholine... as its chef. I could hardly contain my excitement. (Picholine currently holds one Michelin star)

Gay Pride Sunday was the date I chose for my dinner reservation at KTCHN.

a view of the dining room from my booth

Upon entering KTCHN, I was warmly greeted by the front door staff which consisted of a bow-tied, checker-shirted maître d' and a model-height hostess. The hostess led me to an impressive banquette for four even though I was only a party of two. As I perused over the menus, I decided upon having the west coast oysters with warm leek fondue, basil caviar and champagne sauce as my starter and the Black Angus beef carpaccio with fresh asparagus, Valle D'Aosta cheese and lemon crisp as my main.


I also placed an order for a glass of Ca' Furlan prosecco and requested to have it with my oysters, not before them. (I was still sipping the double espresso I'd ordered upon sitting) When the oysters arrived, which were three to an order, I used my fork to ensure the oyster was completely detached from its shell before raising it and sliding the decorated morsel directly into my mouth. When it comes to oysters, I'd say more often than not, I'm a purist. (all you need is a squeeze of lemon) But I must say--I did to my server--that these were (some of) the best oysters I'd ever had. And I was mad about the "basil caviar" which I'd thought was simply roe dressed with basil oil... but upon request, my server confirmed with the chef and to my surprise it was actually "vegan caviar" made from "one-hundred percent basil."

a special tasting... compliments of the chef

My main dish of beef carpaccio was not as stunning as the oysters, but nonetheless was still good. Moving on, I excitedly perused the dessert menu to finish off my meal with a bang. The first item on the menu was the peanut butter chocolate bar served with peanut brittle and salted caramel gelato. All airs aside, peanut butter paired with chocolate is my weakness. I placed an order for the chocolate bar... and also requested a small "tasting" of two of the day's gelati and sorbeti: bourbon gelato and lemon-basil sorbeto. A die-hard peanut butter-chocolate fan, I was none too impressed with KTCHN's peanut-butter chocolate dessert... however, I was impressed with the lemon-basil sorbeto! The tart of the lemon was offset nicely by the basil and the texture had a light creaminess to it. And the flavor of this sorbeto is one you won't soon forget. Next time, I'll skip the chocolate bar and go straight for the cornet duets--prosecco gelée, fresh fruit, lemon-basil sorbeto, orange-pineapple cream-sicle.  

KTCHN, 508 West 42nd Street, Manhattan
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