Yo-Yo Ma is playing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major (Prélude). I walk into a room that radiates style and substance. It was only when I sat down did I realise that there was no music in the background. The goose bumps on my arms – the room did that all by itself. I am at Daniel, one of New York’s most revered restaurants and my first ever three star Michelin adventure.
An ordinary danger of a “party for one” (as they say in the US) is that ‘the one’ is more often than not settled into a corner. Not tonight. I spent the most electric evening in the company of great food, excellent service, and had the best seat in the house.
I am in New York; the city that demands single women order a Cosmopolitan. But the latest Sex And The City movie has left me disgusted and I could not bring myself to pay tribute to the TV series. The White Cosmopolitan (Vodka, Elderflower Liquor, Lime Juice, White Cranberries) at $19 is a delicious compromise. Its served in a martini glass with a giant ice cube decorated with frozen orchids. The show has definitely begun.
I opted for the 3-course Prix Fixe menu ($105). The sommelier helped me choose two reds that would be perfect with the scallops and beef I ordered. I started with the Louis Jadot Beaune, 1er Cru, 1999 ($25) and went on to the Californian Ridge Santa Cruz Mountain Estate ($25). Both wines were completely luscious.
I am not sure if it was cleavage or charisma but something worked and what followed (instead of standard 3 courses) was a symphony of “with compliments of the chef”. I am no food critic and I would much rather eat the meal than describe the ingredients but I have to make an exception this time. Here is what I was served:
– Amuse Bouche 1: A trio of beet including roasted yellow beet and beet cured octopus
– Amuse Bouche 2: Clams with horseradish and pineapple
– Amuse Bouche 3: Crab salad with Persian cucumbers and sesame coulis
– First Course: Hazelnut crusted scallops with morels, Swiss chard & pink peppercorns
– Amuse Bouche 4: Sesame crusted cod with asparagus tempura
– Second Course: Duo of Beef: Black Angus Short Ribs and Wagyu Tenderloin
– Third Course: A selection of 5 cheeses included my favourite Époisses de Bourgogne
– Surprise Dessert 1: a strawberry soup with strawberry sorbet and strawberries
– Surprise Dessert 2: freshly baked madeleines
– Surprise Dessert 3: a selection of 6 gorgeous petit fours including a pistachio macaron
And as a bonus, my request to meet the chef was rewarded with a tour of the kitchen. Oh the joy!!! Even though patron Chef Daniel Boulud was in the house, the five minutes I spent with Executive Chef Jean Francois Bruel were far more inspiring than the several minutes Chef Daniel spent at all the important tables.
For several reasons, starting with holiday remorse, I had to force myself to go out this evening. There is much to be said about working from the inside out. Tonight, I had to work from the outside in and discovered that it works just as well. So go on, be your best sexy and watch the world smile for you.