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Monday, October 28, 2013

A Celebratory Dinner

LAST Wednesday, I was celebrating the release of my first restaurant review to be published in print... which of course called for champagne!

boutique champagnes are
my latest favorite thing

Ever since I'd begun stocking my wine cabinet with the best selections I could curate, I eventually began leaning toward boutique champagnes. My most recent acquisition came from Sea Grape Wine Shop on Hudson Street.

the raison de la fête!

During a recent chat with the wine seller at Sea Grape, I was told that they carry a champagne in the style of Moët & Chandon (most often my champagne of choice). Wednesday night, I picked up said bottle--Paul Laurent champagne--before heading to Joseph Leonard for some accompanying takeout (it was simply too late to cook).

caramelized cauliflower from Joseph Leonard

As I was looking over the menu near the entrance, a friendly hostess approached, to whom I'd responded that I wanted to order some takeout that would still be good in an hour. Narrowing down those items was an easy task for her (First of all: none of the seafood,) and together we decided upon caramelized cauliflowerHudson Valley duck confit and roasted brussels sprouts.

Hudson Valley duck confit with French lentils,
and celery root-apple remoulade

Arriving home, I placed the champagne in the fridge; some serving plates in the oven; and covered the duck in aluminum foil for a brief re-heating. Once the table was set, I poured David and I our first tastes of Paul Laurent. After David's initial Mmmm, I noted: reliably dry, with the taste of dark fruit (think blanc de noirs). As for our dinner: I'd like to say it was also reliably good, but I'm instead going to say that it was uncharacteristically good (because Joseph Leonard can sometimes be hit-or-miss).

roasted brussels sprouts with sriracha

For me, the most memorable components of the dinner were the French lentils and celery root-apple remoulade, both well-seasoned and well-cooked. For David, it was the duck confit of which he'd had the same compliments. 

The style of food served at Joseph Leonard reminds me a lot of the food served by Marc Meyer at Cookshop. However, Joseph Leonard seemed (on this occasion) to be better at delivering satisfying flavor. On occasion, dishes that sound very good on Cookshop's menu do not offer the same excitement on the palate (the same goes for Joseph Leonard). Yet, both of these restaurants appear to be "greenmarket-driven" which lends to frequent menu changes and sometimes, experimental dishes. For those that change their menus based on season or availability, hits and misses can sometimes be two sides of the same coin!
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