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.

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.

Atera 4th Visit — New York City (1/2017)

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A restaurant I had planned to dine at for the first time cancelled my reservation a day in advance due to unforeseen circumstances.  I managed to secure a last-minute reservation at Atera.  It had been about 18 months since my last visit.  It was a Saturday night, so I was a little surprised that a spot was available for the early seating.  But it was there on Opentable.com, so I took it.  Once I booked it, I was committed, since they have a 48-hour cancellation policy.

I was seated soon after arriving.  It looked like there were a few staff changes, but also some familiar faces.  They did remember that I had been there before.  I had a side seat this time (despite what they said about solo diner placement the last time). We started with a hot towel to freshen up.

The wine list by the glass seemed longer than the last time.  They also offered both a standard pairing and premium pairing (but no explicit premium by the glass offerings).  I went with a glass of the Puligny-Montrachet (from a magnum), which was premium enough.

We started the menu off with a beverage of lime snow and warm juniper foam.

Fermented mushrooms and burgundy truffle were served on a crispy waffle as the next small bite.

For the full write-up, click here.

 

Teisui 2nd Visit — New York City (10/2016)

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A week-long work trip provided ample opportunity to pay a second visit to Teisui.  My first visit was in early spring, so I wanted to see what they would do with the seasonal ingredients of the fall.   It was easy to secure a mid-week reservation via OpenTable.  Also, the late hour I had selected for dining  meant a quiet evening at the restaurant, as there were only a few other guests dining when I arrived.

In general, the primary ingredients for the courses were very similar to what I had in the spring.  There were some changes to the supporting ingredients, as well as a few totally different presentations.

The amuse bouche was totally different than the prior visit.  It was a fried chicken sandwich with a very light bread, served with some sweet sake on the side.  The garnishes included daikon radish, carrot and homemade mayonnaise, and Japanese pickle.  And to start off, my opening drink was a sparkling matcha beverage.

The first presentation from the menu featured a little liquid nitrogen volcano carrying a green tea aroma.  With that, there was a selection of several small appetizers:  Hokkaido uni served with junsai (a vegetable also called water shield) and a little wasabi, Hamachi sashimi with ponzu, Matsukaze paté and water octopus with sumiso (Japanese mustard, vinegar and miso).  This had a nice variety of textures.

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.