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Colicchio and Sons Dining Room: Chef’s Seasonal Tasting Menu Revisited

26 Feb

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.

A cauliflower puree on the left, a small jar of cucumber mousse in the center, and brussels sprouts with candied bacon on the right.

The tiny nibble of brussels sprout was perfect with the crisp of the candied bacon.

 And the little jar of cucumber with some roe was just perfect. A great way to start 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


nomscale- 09.5

Riverpark for Restaurant Week Winter 2013

20 Jan

We have been to many restaurants for NYC Restaurant Week at this point, and we’ve found some great choices and some poor choices, which makes it hard to find new places worth sampling each year.  But this year, we decided that Restaurant Week (through Februrary 8, 2013 so far this winter) was a great opportunity to try one of Tom Colicchio‘s newest choices, Riverpark

I really like how many Colicchio restaurants handle Restaurant Week. Rather than serve a “wedding food” (beef, pork, or fish) version of their menu, they serve their regular menu and the items that require a higher price to produce include an incremental charge, noted on the menu (base price is $38).  Here was the menu on January 20, 2013:



For the Restaurant Week price of $38, we were able to choose an item from the left side plus an item from the main section, with a dessert.  You could substitute pasta (a larger portion for entree) for either course.

The building was a bit hard to find.  It is located near the East River on 29th Street and the FDR, in a complex called the Alexandria Center.  Our taxi wasn’t sure where to find it, so he dropped us off on the corner of 30th Street and the FDR access road and we walked down what looked like an industrial part of the city near the back of the hospital.  We took a chance and walked up some stairs and found it there at the top,  inside the building.

The decorations are very modern, with clean, perpendicular lines, much like Colicchio and Sons.


The lights above our table were kind of cool and modern, but also a bit seizure inducing after a few drinks.


We started our night with cocktails. Mike got the “Colonel Mustard” with mustard infused white rum, thyme honey, lime, and candied bacon. It was fantastic.  Heavy on the thyme and a perfect balance of flavors.


I tried the “Spiced & Spiked” though without the “spiced” since that was homemade hot sauce (which would have peppers, which I’m allergic to).  It had hot apple cider, Goslings Rum, and clove.  Even without the hot sauce, this was very delicious and well balanced. I wanted something hot on this very cold night, and this hit the spot.


We added a half-dozen oysters to our Restaurant Week selection, with 3 East Coast (Barnstable) and 3 West Coast (Shigokus). They were both divine, but the west coast Shigokus were especially fantastic.



We then decided to try a bottle of wine. There was a section dedicated to Orange Wines which were described as “interesting and funky.”  We have a love for Russian River Valley wines (especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) so when we saw one on the menu under the Orange variety, we decided why not try something interesting and funky.  We really enjoyed this wine. It was easily drinkable, dry without being puckering, and went well with food and stood up on its own.  A very enjoyable wine.


I then tried the Kabocha Custard & Crab Fondue with crispy black trumpet mushrooms and spiced pumpkin seeds (which I went without in my dish due to my allergy).  This was sensational. A touch of sweet, delicious squash, fresh crab, and a slight crispy from the mushrooms.  A great balance.  This is the second custard from a Colicchio restaurant that really impressed.


Mike tried the Testa Tortellini with pears, walnuts, sage, mustard seed, and spiced consomme.  Sadly, I couldn’t try it due to my allergy, but Mike said it was a great balance of flavors. The waiter said he should try everything in one bite and he would realize why the pear, tortellini and consomme was put together and sure enough, the layers of flavors were fantastic with the rich broth and the fresh pear.  Everything together was delicious.


For our entrees, Mike chose the 20 oz. bone-in dry aged sirloin, which came with a $20 supplement charge. It was with cipollini onions, charred shisito peppers (which they put on the side so I could try it), and tempura hen of the woods mushrooms.  The char on this was fan.freakin.tastic.  And the tempura-ed mushrooms were really fantastic on this. An all around awesome cut of meat. If you order this when it is not Restaurant Week, the steak alone is $50.  So for the $38 base price of Restaurant Week and the $20 supplement fee, the value of the app and the dessert came to a mere $8.  Not too shabby.


These were the peppers that were put on the side, which Mike said added a nice depth of flavor without being too spicy.


I chose the Berkshire Pork Chop with Brussels sprout apple hash and parsnip puree.  This was absolutely incredible.  A slight sweetness from the apples complimented by the slight bitterness of the sprouts. And the pork itself was a perfect foil to both.  Incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I picked up that bone with my fingers to get off any last morsel.  Totally worth it.



Then we had our choice of desserts (a tough choice indeed) and we also chose to order dessert wine (Domaine des Schistes, a muscat).


I chose the Chocolate Souffle Cake with coffee ice cream and chocolate crumble. This was a lovely dessert with warm souffle cake, with a nice balance of bittersweet and sweet with the chocolate and a great compliment with the coffee ice cream.


But Mike chose the Beer Sundae with Guinness Cake, oatmeal stout ice cream, butterscotch, chocolate pretzel, and candied walnuts.  While my chocolate souffle was very good, this was just damn special.  It was unique flavors with a perfect balance of salty and sweet. It was a fantastic, inspired dessert.  Really, really fantastic.


Our food throughout the meal with simply spectacular.  We paid a number of up-charges, but I am very certain that we would have enjoyed our meals just as much had we stuck with the Restaurant Week prices and not paid for any of the supplements or additional drinks/supplements.  But half the fun of Restaurant Week is being able to save money so you CAN pay for those lovely extras.

This is how you do Restaurant Week. Offer your regular menu so no one feels that they are missing out and just give people a chance to really enjoy your restaurant with a nice introduction.

Well played Riverpark.  You have made the list of “where to eat for Restaurant Week.”

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

nomscale- 08.0

Colicchio and Sons: Tasting Menu + Wine Pairing

11 Mar

Mike and I perused our Grubbit List in search of where Valentine’s Day (well… weekend) would take us this year.  We continued the tradition of totally splurging on food for special occasions (rather than expensive gifts).  We decided on Colicchio & Sons as we have been watching Chef Tom for years on Top Chef he was a 2010 James Beard Outstanding Chef.

Our reservation was for 6pm, and when we arrived at 5:45pm, we were informed that the dining room didn’t open until 6 and were invited to take a seat at the bar.  It wasn’t that full, however, it took a good amount of time to get a drink.  This was really the only misstep of the evening.


We were the first seated and I was impressed by the expansive space, including a huge glass wine bar separating the dining room from the more casual Tap Room.


The space appeared to be all about the vertical lines and columns.  Reaching up into space.  Even the candles were designed with this aesthetic.


The back of the restaurant had a huge mural on the wall. We’re pretty sure it’s supposed to be the Highline, but we could be mistaken.


(Enough about the decor… what about the food?!)


The menu had many enticing options.


And I was very tempted by the roasted pork with crispy brussels sprouts.


But we decided to go whole hog and get the full tasting menu… WITH the wine pairings.  OH BOY.  (They had a VERY heavy pour on the wine pairings… it was about 3/4 of a glass each time… times 8 courses and I can’t remember the cab ride home… WHOOPS!)


We were soon greeted with the most fluffy, buttery, warm rolls.  They were in a little skillet pan and topped with sea salt.  Before we knew it… they had vanished.  But another tray replaced it almost as fast as the first one disappeared.  The butter with it was surprisingly bland, but it was the perfect temperature.  And the buttery rolls more than made up for it.


First up was the cauliflower panna cotta with nantucket bay scallops & black truffle.

(Wine: Blain-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 2008.  Very nice on its own.  Even better in combination with the earthy truffle flavors).


The crunch and sweetness of the apple on top was a nice add on, and I liked the layering of the cauliflower on the bottom.  This dish was a perfect mash of flavors.


Our next dish is probably the most amazing thing I have ever eaten in my life.  And I have eaten some AMAZING things!  I couldn’t believe how good this was, especially after the description of duck egg, confit gizzard, & parsnip.  There were rich, savory notes with sweet, creamy texture and the crisps on top.  Holy crap this was good.

(Wine: Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris 2008.  I was in love at first sip.  I will be ordering a case of this.  It had a very honey flavor and was absolutely perfect with the dish)


I wish licking the plate was not so frowned upon at restaurants…. so I went with the next best idea.


Next up was Hawaiian blue prawns with pork ballotine and artichoke salad.  The prawn was sensational.  Full of flavor.  Mike even called it “the best prawn EVER!”  I’m not quite sure where the artichoke part came in, but I still very much enjoyed it.

(Wine: Lopez De Heredia Rioja Blanco Crianza Vina Gravonia 2001.)


Pancetta wrapped monkfish with black truffle and beets was served next.  I love monkfish, as I think it tastes a lot like lobster, and the beets and pancetta were a great foil for this.

It was around this time that Mike mentioned that we had not needed salt yet.  Impressive for salt lovers like us!

(Wine: Jean Grivot Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Bourdots 2007)


Next up was red quail with canterelles, bok choy, and licorice jus.  I was nervous about the licorice, as I’m usually not a fan, but this really came together.  There was a nice helping of quail (unusual) and the chanterelles were plentiful.

(Wine: Bodegas La Cartuja Priorat 2009.  It was very aromatic and perfect with the quail)


The roasted wagyu sirloin was served with a bone marrow beignet (a bone marrow beignet!), salsify & truffle syrup.  The steak was perfectly cooked with char and the little crunchies on top were delish.  The bone marrow beignet was a fried mush of deliciousness that just exploded in your mouth.  More please!

(Wine: Paverno Vaona Amarone Della Valpolicella 2006)


I was not familiar with salsify, besides that it was a vegetable, and I still can’t say I know what it tastes like.  But it created a lovely pillow for the perfectly cooked steak.


I was actually bummed when the food was over and dessert was coming.  Dinner was such a satisfying set of dishes that I was scared dessert wouldn’t be as good.  Luckily, I was wrong.

The vanilla creme fraiche panna cotta with citrus, Prosecco grapefruit, and persimmon sorbet was PERFECT.  I thought this would be bland, but it was complex and had great flavors without being at all overpowering.  A great dish to serve after the steak.

(Wine: They replaced the wine originally listed with a Moscato d’Asti Cal Du Sindic 2009.  I was THRILLED as the original list was champagne and I’m not a fan.  This was DELICIOUS and perfectly sweet without being too much.)


Last up was a chocolate souffle with a milk chocolate-earl grey parfait and cinnamon custard, candied cashews, & milk chocolate ice cream.  Honestly, the souffle was sadly a bit overcooked, but the flavors were delicious.  I also think it was hazelnuts instead of cashews, but who’s counting?  All the little pieces around it were VERY good, but I honestly did prefer the panna cotta.  According to my notes, in the picture below, the milk chocolate earl grey parfait is on the bottom, the cinnamon custard is on top, and the chocolate ice cream is in the middle.

(Wine: Broadbent Malmsey 20 Year Maderia… which I think was a port… but like I said… fuzzy)


As I love at the end of the meal, they brought us out some petit fours.  These were shortbread with berry and dark chocolate filled with something something something and something something something.  Yeah… the 3/4 pours of wine with each dish make my brain as fuzzy as this picture.


But I do remember thinking that the texture in this filling was perfect enough to take a (blurry) picture of.


Then came something that put this dining experience over the edge… they sent us home with muffins for the morning!  How adorable.  And OMG were these good (and I don’t use an awful phrase like “OMG” lightly people).  I was hurtin’ when I woke up the next day after all that wine, and these muffins were like a little piece of heaven.


Overall, Colicchio and Sons was one of the best meals I have EVER had.  Mike and I ranked it as number 2 on the list of all-time favorites (narrowly beating out Bottega (in Napa), Momofuku Ko, and Le Bernadin, while falling JUST short of WD-50 (since that was such a unique dining adventure).  I’m sure the healthy pours of the sensational wine helped lubricate my love for this place, but I thought it was absolutely sensational.  Not a single bad dish in the tasting and some that were SENSATIONAL.  I think the duck egg, confit gizzard, & parsnip dish alone deserves 10 Nom Points.

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10