As is our annual tradition, we went to a surprise Valentine’s Day dinner again this year. This time, it was Mike’s turn to come up with the location. He told me a few months before that he wanted to return to one of our favorites, to see if it could remain in the top.
So we set off on the Saturday after Valentine’s Day and the cab turned uptown, then west, then downtown. And suddenly I found myself in front of one of my all-time favorite places, Colicchio and Sons. We were returning to the dining room to try the Chef’s Seasonal Tasting Menu once again. The last time we were there, it registered just behind our awesome meal at WD-50, and only barely. With the new reigning champ of Eleven Madison Park, it brought our last C&S Tasting meal down to spot #3 on the all-time best Noms of our lives list.
Could it hold on to this coveted Top 3 spot?
This time we went with the Tasting Menu but decided that the wine pairing might be overkill, so we started with cocktails before moving onto wine (and then dessert wine…)
We started with a trio for our amuse bouche.
And the little jar of cucumber with some roe was just perfect. A great way to star the meal.
Then the famous Parker House rolls came out. They are buttery and soft and warm and sprinkled with salt. AKA heaven in bread form.
And then another little amuse bouche came out. It was a hearts of palm puree with a dash of oil. While I think hearts of palm is fine in a salad, I have never thought of it as a main attraction. This was a great use of hearts of palm, however, and I really enjoyed it.
Our first course came and it was potato bavarois (which was like a whipped potato dome) with Hackeback caviar and vodka cream. There were also homemade potato chips on the plate. This was perfect. Light and delicious with a great combination of flavors. The vodka was ever so subtle but added great depth.
And the caviar inside was a great fishy taste without being too fishy.
There was nothing extra on this plate. Nothing that didn’t have to be there. And everything was perfectly balanced.
Our next course was Barolo spaghetti with coddled egg and guanciale. The pasta had a beautiful burgundy hue from cooking in the Barolo wine. The egg made for an amazing sauce (that was great to dip the Parker House rolls in) and the flavors of the sauce with the guanciale was perfect. Incredible pasta dish.
Our next course was a roasted scallop with hearts of palm and blood orange. Wow. Again, hearts of palm at the center of the dish was very enjoyable. The scallop was perfectly cooked and just the slightest bit caramelized. And then the blood orange added a perfect sweet and tangy citrus to the scallop and hearts of palm. Very, very good.
Our next dish was a show stopper. Duck breast with wheat berries, farro, and huckleberry jus. Awesome. The duck breast was cooked to perfection with tons of flavor. The edge was spiced kind of like pastrami and the mushrooms (hen of the woods maybe?) were fantastic. And that huckleberry jus added the perfect touch of sweet. Yet another example of not an extra ingredient on the plate and everything coming together perfectly.
Our final savory course was a 30-day dry-aged sirloin with butternut squash, salsify, and tuscan kale. The steak had a lovely char with just a touch of salty goodness. It was aged and cooked perfectly and I even enjoyed the kale on this plate.
Our first “sweet” course was the most perfect transition course. It was Époisses creme brulee with huckleberry and pecan-fennel shortbread. I didn’t know what Époisses was, but our waiter described it as a very “barn yardy” cheese. A perfect description.
They put just a touch of sugar on top to brulee it.
And inside was the most divine stinky, creamy, delicious cheese with huckleberry on the bottom. The shortbread cookies with the fennel went perfectly with this and it really was the perfect segue from savory to sweet on the menu. I absolutely LOVED this dish. This was nearly as memorable and unique as the confit gizzard dish we had during the last tasting menu.
Our final tasting dish was a brown sugar cake with pineapple, macadamia nut, and milk chocolate ice cream. Yup. This was fantastic. It had some strudel on the bottom and everything just went together with perfection.
The brown sugar cake looked simple but had a deep, rich flavor that was perfectly balanced by the pineapple.
And then out came the petit fours.
This was an almond nougat (very good).
And grapefruit jellies. Yum!
And then, as if they hadn’t already secured their place in my food heart, they sent us home with a corn muffin for the morning. (I’m such a sucker for this!)
By the end of the meal, both Mike and I were as impressed as the last time, if not more so. From start to finish, this meal just continued to build and get better and better. I loved so many things and was constantly impressed by the perfect restraint and balance in each dish. I have been recommending Colicchio and Sons to NYC visitors for a long time now, and I’m glad to see it lived up to all those expectations. We actually debated if this Tasting Menu beat out WD-50, but I argued that WD-50 slightly edged this out due to its cleverness and the entertainment factor. I’m pretty sure Mike was on the fence, and may have even voted for Colicchio and Sons over WD-50 if I hadn’t chimed in.
That, in and of itself, is impressive.
Total Nom Points: 9.5 out of 10