Atelier Crenn 2nd Visit — San Francisco (9/2016)

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I had visited Atelier Crenn almost exactly three years ago. Dominique Crenn’s story was the subject of an episode of Chef’s table on Netflix, and that prompted me to go back for a visit. I liked my first experience very much, so I was looking forward to my return. They changed from using OpenTable.com to Resy as their booking system. I was able to secure an early seating for a Friday dinner a few weeks in advance.

As before, there was no menu, just a poem, with each line referencing a course. The wine list format was different in that all the by-the-glass choices for the whole meal were on one page. Now, it was compartmentalized into a more familiar format. I went with the Chassagne-Montrachet Chardonnay this time, which I thought was among the better Montrachets that I have tried.

There was still a longer selection of half-bottles than usually seen.

The meal started off with the traditional (for here) apple cider inside a delicate cocoa butter shell topped with a little crème de cassis.

Soon after, a very delicate preparation of potato dusted with seaweed with a little maple butter was presented.

Along with the potato was Hokkaido uni with golden Osetra caviar with ginger and carrot curd. This had a touch of sweetness to it.

For the full write-up, click here.

Gunther Seeger — New York City (9/2016)

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This new restaurant is named for the chef. Friends had recommended that I try the place out, as the quality of the ingredients and flavors seemed high, with the tasting menu taking advantage of what the daily markets had to offer. The restaurant was bookable on Opentable.com, and it was relatively easy for me to reserve a Saturday night slot in advance.

The wines-by-glass were all a little younger than I wanted. The bottle menu was pretty extensive.

One whole side was devoted to German wine. So, I asked if they offered pairings, if it was possible to find out the offerings, and perhaps order a glass from the pairings instead. They said they only offer them in the context of having the pairings and there were no white Burgundies on the list anyway (which I had asked). I settled for the young white Burgundy after that since there was no further inquiry about what offerings may suit my tastes.

The menu is a set tasting menu. There were no unlisted courses.

The evening started with a Kabocha squash soup. Suspended with the spoon was a piece of pickled squash with Sicilian pistachios as garnish.

The salad course featured buttered lettuce with a Sauvignon Blanc emulsion and Parmesan sauce, topped with chives and grated Parmesan. This was served with a slice of brioche bread. The salad was pretty plain-tasting. I had wished the brioche was toasted to give some nice texture contrast (it was not even served warm).

For the full write-up, click here.  Note that since this visit, Gunther Seeger received a Michelin star.

Blue Hill — New York City (9/2016)

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I hadn’t heard of Blue Hill before.  Chef Dan Barber was the subject of the second episode of the Chef’s table documentary series on Netflix.  I became intrigued about the beginnings of the farm-to-table movement and how this was trying to work at Blue Hill.  Though the episode was already a couple of years old, it was still a little tough getting a reservation on a weekend.  I did manage to book a late evening table on a Friday night via OpenTable.com.  Blue Hill has one Michelin star.

They offer three choices for food options.  There is the regular tasting menu of the listed items (on the left), an extended menu with additional unlisted items, and a 4+ course menu with selections to choose from for three of the courses.  I chose the extended Farmer’s Feast option for maximum sampling.

The wine list was nicely arranged with a wide selection of wine with many French wine choices.  They had a white Burgundy by the glass, which was my selection.  The bottles of white were sub-categorized by characteristics.  There were several Mersaults with quite a range of prices.

The first bite was a whole habanero pepper.  It was special in that it was bred not to be spicy hot to let the true flavor come though.  There were no seeds inside and only a hint of spiciness when tasting the part closest to the stem.

The next plate was a plate painted with a vinaigrette to use a kind of flavoring to go with the fresh summer vegetables.

The next small bite was a tomato and corn tart.  This was followed by a grilled fruit that looked like a fig, but wasn’t called that.

For the full write-up, click here.

momofuku ko 14th Visit — New York City (9/2016)

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from my late-summer visit.  I did know that they had been closed and on vacation and that this was going to be their first weekend back after the time off.  I already saw some different things as soon as I sat down (large round eggplants on the grill).

After looking over the wine list, I decided to go with some Champagne that looked particularly nice.

We started off with the very familiar pommes soufflé.  This time, they were filled with herbed crème fraiche and dusted with green garlic powder.  The lobster roll that came after was the same as before – made with Thai basil and mint sabayon.

Next up was the always-good chicken oyster with white kimchi granita. This was followed by black bass tartare with fish consommé gel, shiso, finger chilies and finger limes for light flavors and nice texture changes.

The next presentation was the Hokkaido uni with chickpea purée, chickpea hozon and Sicilian olive oil.

For the full write-up, click here.