The Musket Room — New York City (6/2019)

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The Musket Room is a restaurant that I ran across in a newsletter listing of ‘must try’ places in New York City. It is located just off of Spring St., in the NoHo/Little Italy areas. The restaurant uses Resy for booking services and has been awarded one Michelin star. The theme for the cuisine is New Zealand, and they offer a short story and long story versions of tasting menus. They describe themselves as a modern take on homestyle New Zealand cooking. The opening page of the menu introduces their concept, and the subsequent pages show the current seasonally-based short and long menu options, as well as a shorter 3-course, diner’s choice option.

I chose the long story (of course). I also talked to the sommelier about a glass of wine. Since the “Man O’ War” did not specify a grape, I had to ask (plus, it had some age to it, which always interests me, particularly for whites). She described it as a uniquely flavored blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon. That was good enough for me.

Powhiri (Welcome)
The long story starts out with a few small bites . From the right: pea with lemon aioli, white and green asparagus tart, corned beef croquette topped with smoked cheese. This was a tasty start for the palate.

Kaimoana (Fruit of the Sea)
The next presentation was raw East Coast oysters with yuzu mignonette and trout roe. There was a little dry ice or liquid nitrogen for effect and to keep things cold.

The next dish featured raw diver scallops with a dashi gel, aged soy sauce, and Asian pears. This was finished with horseradish yogurt snow at the table (and more dry ice or liquid nitrogen for effect).

This Kaluga caviar tart was filled with layers of confit egg jam, chives, Greek yogurt, and shallots, and topped with gold leaf. The tart shell was thin but firm. The flavors were very nice together, very much mimicking the flavors of having caviar the traditional way (except for no toast points).
They provided a rehydrated towelette to help with finger cleanup.

The last Kaimoana dish was freshwater crayfish (koura), pickled ramps, fresh watercress and finished with warm watercress soup at the table. The flavors didn’t come forward much for me, and there was a strange saltiness to it.

Papatùànuku (Fruit of the Land)
The bread was a smoked Hangi sourdough. Hangi is the Màori term for cooking in a pit with hot rocks or other material. To go with the bread, I was served a house-made tiki-shaped cultured butter with sea salt, smoked ricotta cheese with citrus olive oil, and chicken liver mousse with fried rosemary. This was all very good.

For the full write-up, click here.

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040 at Intersect by Lexus — New York City (6/2019)

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The restaurant at Intersect at Lexus appeared in an email listing some interesting places to dine in New York City. The restaurant is located upstairs in a Meatpacking District building used by Lexus as a center for artistic and cultural expression. It’s one of three centers around the world that they operate, and this one is the first with a fine dining restaurant. The restaurant is run in collaboration with the Union Square Hospitality Group. Their intent is to rotate chefs every 4-6 months. For this current iteration, the chef (Sergio Barroso) is from Madrid and operates a restaurant called 040 in Santiago, Chile. Reservations are made through Resy.
I was told that no silverware would be used with the meal.

They have a counter which overlooks the large kitchen area. I was seated at one end of it.

The White Rioja I selected to have with dinner was a Rioja by region only, I was told that the grapes used were not the typical ones used. It was very different and a nice accompaniment with the meal.
The first bite was an ossobuco-style shank dumpling with quail egg and ponzu gel. A smoked beef broth was in the pot and meant to be consumed afterward.

The next presentation was salmon sashimi marinated in the Peruvian ceviche sauce called leche de tigre (charcoal oil, fish stock, citrus and spices) and truffle oil. The center was garlic ice cream on a stick with wasabi balsamic and fried almonds underneath. On the side, there was a little avocado wasabi. This was a mellow blend of savory flavors, with the almonds providing nice texture.
The next course was inspired by the beach. Chilled mussels and octopus rested in a bed of cotton candy. I was told to wrap it up with the cotton candy like a taco to eat. It was sweet and then spicy. The Bloody Mary chaser to the was to cleanse the palate at the end.

This small roll was formed with a beet-marinated daikon radish strip. Inside at the bottom was a creamy paella made with Italian rice, layered with Hamachi and miso mayonnaise. This was topped with red puffed rice. This was a small and tasty bite.
The next course soon followed. It was a new addition to the menu. The Hamachi nigiri ha d puffed red rice at the bottom. The Hamachi belly was topped with salmon roe.

The next dish was a beef and pork bun with a Spanish pepitoria sauce. This sprayed with a yuzu vinaigrette at the counter that added a light flavor contrast. This was very hot to hold, but fine inside to eat.
The next course was potato gnocchi with Romesco sauce, pork belly, lemon pit puree, pickled daikon, and chili.

For the full write-up, click here.

Atomix 2nd Visit — New York City (6/2019)

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Atomix is still a relatively new restaurant on the scene. Even though they recently were awarded a Michelin star, I was hoping that after my first visit in March, their menu would still be evolving as the seasons changed. I enjoyed the first experience enough even with its flaws that I wanted to see what they would do with a late spring/early summer menu. Since I had planned a visit to New York well in advance, I was able to secure a reservation through Tock right when seats were released for the date and time I wanted (Reservations are released a month at a time on the first day of the prior month and are pre-paid). Diners are seated around a U-shaped counter which encloses the beverage preparation area.
The chef spent time at Jungsik, New York’s 2-star Michelin Korean fine dining restaurant. Atomix presents a seasonal, Korean cuisine-inspired tasting menu. They offer wine pairings with their courses. However, I opted to start the meal with their house-made Magnolia kombucha and then asked them to serve teas from their list as appropriate.

While I was considering the beverage options, I was offered as a small bite soon after being seating. It was white shrimp tartare with pine nuts and fermented white asparagus.

The next small bite was smoked trout roe and rice in a seaweed cracker wrap.
I started off with Magnolia kombucha as a beverage.
As before, each course is preceded by presentation of a card that provided the name of the Korean course. The art on the cards for this menu had the Korean symbols for each course depicted abstractly on one side. Each card listed the principle ingredients followed by discussions covering the history of using the specific ingredients, the sources, the preparation methods, and/or general comments about the menu and the research involved for its creation. Finally, the creator of the serving dish is listed.

The first course was a soup featuring firefly squid seasoned with mirin (sweet rice wine) and Yondu (a seasoning derived from simmered vegetables). With it was fermented chickpea with squid, beech mushroom and more mirin and Yondu. At the counter, they finished with squid soup (a squid dashi seasoned with dried anchovy, garlic, scallions and mirin).

For the full write-up, click here.

For the write-up from the first visit, click here.

The Clove Club 8th Visit — London (5/2019)

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As a change of pace, and because of my flight schedule, I made a dinner reservation at The Clove Club instead of the usual lunch visit. In terms of the food, it is generally the same as the long lunch menu on the weekends. I was at the bar for the meal. The differences were that I had to go through a lighting change as the evening progressed and dinner reservations are prepaid when the reservation is made.

Before starting in with the non-alcoholic pairings, I ordered a glass of the South African Chenin Blanc to go with the small bites.
The experience started off with a melon granita with ham gelée, charcoal cream, elderflowers and gazpacho reduction. This was a refreshing beginning.

The next bite was spider crab tart with elderflower hollandaise and devil spices. On the side was a trout belly tartare with crème fraiche and Sancho pepper.
The next bite was the familiar (and always good) buttermilk fried chicken with pine needle salt.

Also served very warm was the mushroom haggis bun with cider vinegar.
The first menu course was a salad of biodynamic vegetables with a dressing of turnip milk and sesame.
To start the beverage pairing, they served white peony tea made with softened water.

The next beverage was fresh cucumber juice seasoned with mustard seed shrub.
The next course was lightly hay-smoked river trout, toasted almonds, watercress, and ossetra caviar.

The beverage for the next course was chamomile with a little smoked lemon and verjus.

For this course, we start off with Scottish langoustine, served with morels and asparagus.
This was soon followed by ancient proto-grains noodles from Orkney with langoustine broth. This had an especially good flavor.

For the full write-up, click here.

Geranium 2nd Visit — Copenhagen (5/2019)

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It had been a few years since I visited Geranium (also for lunch). It is Copenhagen’s only Michelin 3-star restaurant. Since my last visit, they remodeled to bring part of the kitchen out in the open. They also changed the overall feel of the service to be a little less formal. Upon making a reservation, they take about a $100 deposit. They are still located in a building attached to a sports stadium (there is a view of the field from one of the kitchen areas).

They offer the same tasting menu for lunch as for dinner. They also offer three distinct levels of wine pairings, by-the-glass options, and a juice pairing. I went with the juice pairing along with a glass of white Bordeaux that they poured with a Coravin.

The first presentation was lobster in a cold milk and lemon verbena custard, topped with juice from fermented carrots and sea buckthorn oil.
The next small bite was some Jerusalem artichoke crisps with a pickled walnut leaf mayonnaise dip.

This was the very nice white Bordeaux that I had.

The next snack was razor clam tartare with aromatic herbs and crème fraiche inside edible “shells” made by the pastry chef to look like razor clam shells.

The next small bite was free range (a little bit of humor from them) snail eggs in a smoked cream cheese soup with oyster, dried biscuits, and nettles. The smokiness was a nice aromatic and taste effect.
I also ordered the optional course, which was presented at this time. It was Bulgarian ossetra caviar, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, and pumpkin seed water. The pumpkin added a nice nuttiness to the dish experience. The blown-glass dish with black sand on the bottom was made on Bornholm Island. It was the inspiration for this food presentation.

The first juice pairing was Granny Smith apple juice, elderflower, egg whites and thyme oil. The ingredients were shaken together martini-style and then poured at the table.

This course featured scallop “red stones” (raw scallops colored with beetroot) with horseradish cream for dipping (not shown).

The next course was celeriac, dried mussels, Söl (seaweed from Iceland, shown on the right), celeriac juice, smoked yogurt, and pickled seeds. This was warm and had a mostly vegetable flavor.

For the full write-up, click here.

kadeau — Copenhagen (5/2019)

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I heard about kadeau from a foodie friend who visits Copenhagen often. It has two Michelin stars and bases its cuisine on the ingredients from Bornholm Island. There are many food options in Copenhagen to choose from for the one night I had not yet reserved. I decided to try a new place rather than go back to any of the places I’d already visited. When making a reservation, the restaurant takes a deposit of about $100. Even though it is a small restaurant, they accept solo diner reservation. They stagger their reservation times, but each table will only have one seating for the evening. The restaurant is located down a narrow street behind an inconspicuous door (although there is a sign).

There is little separation between the kitchen and the dining areas. The décor seemed to integrate the two areas. There was also an outside courtyard area for drinks before or after dinner. In the kitchen, they have taken advantage of an existing chimney in the space and set up a kitchen fireplace for grilling and smoking.

They offer a single tasting menu each evening. In addition to the wine list, wine and non-alcoholic parings are available. I chose to go with the juice pairing as well as a glass of a 2014 Mâconnais Chardonnay.

The menu started out with a beverage made with water kefir, gooseberries, oxidized pear and fig leaf oil. This made for a kind of herbal palate awakener. This was followed with a series of snacks.

The first snack was a tart of green asparagus, fermented peas, fried kale and egg yolk. The kale gave it a nice soft crunch feel with each bite.
Next was kohlrabi, cured in asparagus juice and then cooked in fire, black currant and nobilis fir in the form of marinated pinecones and pine shoots. There was a pleasant, vegetable-firm crunch texture.

The next dish featured razor clams with gooseberry juice, white currants, cherry blossoms, rose petals and elderberry flower buds. This was light and flavorful.
The plate featured brill (similar to turbot) marinated in cherry blossom oil and garnished with marigold and cherry blossoms. These flavors blended nicely together.

For the full write-up, click here.

noma 2nd Visit — Copenhagen (5/2019)

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My first visit to noma was several years ago to the original restaurant, where I had the classic menu. Since then, noma has moved to a new location. It’s still in the same general area of Copenhagen, but north of the old location. It still has 2 Michelin stars. The new restaurant is much more expansive than the original location. When checking in for dinner, guests were led to a greenhouse where a hard cider and a non-alcoholic rhubarb-fennel beverage were offered. The menu has also changed. A series of seasonal menus are now offered throughout the year. In the winter/spring, they offer a seafood menu. The summer menu is focused on vegetables. Fall/winter offers a game and forest menu.

I had secured a reservation at the community table for the seafood menu. This seating is in a different part of the complex from the regular dining tables. We were all led from the greenhouse where we checked in, through gardens of herbs and produce, and into a building which had a large table located next to a large kitchen/staging area. A booking at the community table is prepaid for the food at the time of reservation (as are normal table seatings). An additional requirement at the community table is that diners must order either the wine pairing or the non-alcoholic pairing (which is paid for after dinner). It is possible to cancel a reservation up to five days before the scheduled dining date without penalty.

I chose to have the juice pairing. The first one presented was a green gooseberry juice infused with elderflower. The alcoholic pairing began with a sour beer.
The meal began with fresh (opened 3-4 minutes prior to serving) Norwegian scallop, served raw and seasoned with salt. The roe was separated and presented just to the side. I was expecting the flavor to have a touch of sweetness, but I did not get that.

The next course was an array of lightly cooked and raw clams. Venus clams (cooked) seasoned with Mirabelle plum juice (front left), carpet clams (cooked) with sorrel and cooked grains (front right), mahogany clams (raw) from north of the Arctic Circle seasoned with fresh cream and pine salt (back left), and razor clams (raw) served with raw walnuts and cooked grains. Textures from raw walnuts with razor clams and cooked grains with two of the other clams were a nice complement. The center of the plate had a piece of quince cooked in a salt brine. It was recommended that we squeeze this over the clams for additional seasoning.

Wine pairing was from Central Spain (a pre-phylloxera Verdejo).

For the full write-up, click here.