Surprise Birthday Dinner 2015: Gabriel Kreuther

28 Sep

Hello old friends!

I have taken quite the hiatus since Baby Nom Nom’s arrival. We have spent the last 17 weeks enjoying (almost) every moment with our son (even the tough, sleepless ones). A new baby is every bit as tough as I anticipated, and then some, but it’s every bit as wonderful as I had hoped (and then some!)

But even a new baby did not stop us from our annual tradition of surprise holiday restaurants. And Mike rertainly didn’t disappoint this year for my birthday when we walked into the new Gabriel Kreuther in the Grace Building by Bryant Park.

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For the record, previous birthdays were amazing choices, too: Sushi Nakazawa (awesome), Brooklyn Fare (incredible), Jean Georges (underwhelming), Daniel (amazing meal and the best dessert I’ve ever had… which led me to the incredible Dominique Ansel), Le Bernardin (fantastic), and (two of our top meals of all time, and sadly now closed) WD-50.

The inside is a little bit rustic (with reclaimed wood beams that I loved), a little bit sleek, and a whole lot of beautiful storks.

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With a window into the kitchen (wish we had sat facing this!)IMG_6927

The silverware pieces and dishes were all just a little bit sassy.IMG_6827

Elegant but a little whimsical.

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We ordered cocktails, and they were very good, though the one on the right was a (very expensive) truffle cocktail and sadly, as is the state with many things made with fresh truffles, just didn’t taste all that much like truffles.

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The bread came out with homemade butter and was warm and delicious.

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We went for the tasting menu, which was chef’s choice but we could mention if there was anything special we wanted and they would “try to work it in.”  The one item that really caught our eye was the “Mangalitsa Lardo Poached Maine Lobster” so we mentioned this and turned ourselves over to the chef.

Then we had 3 amuse bouche (bouches?) in a row.  They were all great and started the meal off very well.

This was a hearts of palm panna cotta with fresno chile purée and celery jus.

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(My version without the peppers).

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Then a roasted tomatillo gelée with rosemary meringue and crispy pig ear.

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Loved this.

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This was an incredible couple of bites. A coffee cracker (these should exist in real life) with roasted corn and goat cheese mousse and some other little goodies.

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Our first real course was “10 Days Cured Brandt Beef Tenderloin” with tartar, shemogue oyster vinaigrette, and horseradish.

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This was hearty without being heavy and the pour over sauce added a lovely additional texture.IMG_6850

It all came together beautifully.

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Then we had the compressed hamachi with black truffle, foie gras terrine, and celery.  The layers in this were very complimentary and while it could have been super rich, there were little tastes throughout that cut the richness nicely.

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Then we had the burnt heirloom tomato with arugula juice, crystalized orange peels, and boquerones.

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This looked like it belonged in a contemporary museum. It was simply gorgeous. And the parts were all tasty.  However… it didn’t quite come together. The sauce was a bit too acidic so it burned the back of the throat. So much potential but just not our favorite item of the night.IMG_6863

The next course came out under a cloche (I’m such a sucker for food under a cloche… though that could be because I have never had a bad dish that began under a cloche)IMG_6864

This was no exception. It was a sturgeon and sauerkraut tart with American caviar mousseline and applewood smoke. Oh man this was smoky heaven. More please!

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At this point I think something went a bit wrong with the pacing. We had two bread courses in a row. But the bread was great (and beautiful), so I can’t complain!

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And the second one came with lardo!

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The next course was definitely worth waiting for. Sweetbread dumplings with summer corn purée and red currents. These were the most perfectly cooked sweetbreads I’ve ever had, and the dumpling was a fantastic blend of flavors.

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Next up was the baked dorade royale with fennel seed-coriander broth and green tomato marmalade.  IMG_6880

Which was placed on top tableside and added a great acidic, slightly sweet compliment to this great dish.

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Then it was time for the Mangalitsa Lardo poached Maine lobster with squid ink gnocchi, cockle ragoūt, baby artichoke, and jamón émulsion that we had been waiting for. We were super excited to get this dish, and it was great, but after all the other amazing dishes that night, this one actually falls to the bottom. All the ingredients are some of my favorite things, but they didn’t seem to compliment each other well nor stand up on their own. It was a lot of really great things that just kind of got muddled and lost. Bummer. But hey… when the lobster is on the bottom of the list… you know you are having a FANTASTIC meal.

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We then had Shemogue Oyster with North Sea uni, smoked salmon sauce, and champagne gelee. It was fresh and delicious and tasted like the best parts of the sea.

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Next up we were shown a rack of lamb smoking under a small stack of hay. The smell was brain melting. IMG_6895 IMG_6897

This was all the right flavors, textures, and preparations. A fantastic dish and especially fantastic lamb.

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And then they served us a hay broth in a cup to drink with it.  Heaven.

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It was then time to move into dessert, but the palate cleanser was a super fresh, super bright strawberries with limoncello sorbet and lemongrass marshmallow.

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Delightful.

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They then served a very nice birthday surprise cake. It was a lovely treat and they wrapped it up and gave the rest to take home on our way out. (Which proved a very nice way to thank Grandma, our babysitter!)

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This was entitled “Fantasy” on the menu they gave me to take home and is described as Chocolate Kirsch Amerna with Guanaja chantilly, olive oil chocolate sponge cake, and kirsch sorbet.

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They even poured a chocolate sauce over the chocolate cone at the table.IMG_6911

This was definitely delicious, but it seemed a bit more about the artistry and less about the flavor. It was good but not great.

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They then wheeled over a cart and made a café frappé with caramel cremeux and candied pecans. IMG_6916

This was really, really good, but we were so full by this time that we just couldn’t finish it.

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And just when we thought we couldn’t fit one more bite, they brought over homemade chocolates and petits fours.

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The chocolates were served in a cocoa pod. Very cool.

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The one strange moment came on the check. We were charged supplements for both the lobster and the lamb. Supplements we were happy to pay, and so worth it, but unexpected. Yes, the lobster was our request, however, the lamb was chosen by the chef so it was a bit strange that the supplemental charge wasn’t mentioned upfront. It didn’t take away from the fact that both Mike and I left this meal raving about it though!

This was one of the most memorable, simply delicious meals we have had in a while. Each dish was prepared with precision, artistry, and attention to flavors and textures. Even the dishes we didn’t overly care for were still a huge step above most of the food we are privileged to eat in this city.

They also have a bar menu and an a la carte menu, and I cannot wait to go back and try more.

This is a great addition to the Bryant Park area.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

 

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