- Simon Majumdar Feb 5, 2001 08:13 AM
popping across the pond for a couple of days at the end of the month and want to treat some relatives to something a little above the norm.
Previous treats have included L'espinasse, Gotham Bar, Grammercy, Boulez bakery, 71 Clinton, Tabla, Jean Georges and Vong with varying degrees of success
A bit at a loss this time and musing between Esca and Cello.
a) Are these worth while?
b) Am I missing any other possibles?
I'd add Felidia, JO JO. I know some folks do not care
about either. However, I've had success. I'm generally not very fussy about service as long as I'm not delayed and the waitstaff does not hover over us.
If you're still deciding between Cello and Esca, I would definitely choose Cello. The room is relaxed, maybe even seductive and the food is amazing. I'll always remember the intense truffle foam appetizer that I had there. And after the dessert, they really take it to you with petites, handmade chocolates, and amazingly irresistable donut holes.
Make reservations early though.
My beloved is a cellist, so to welcome her home from a lengthy tour I tookher to Cello last night. The meal was outstanding.
I started with the best dish of the night: an incredible lobster risotto with fois gras. Rich, the risotto made with a sauce similar to a lobster bisque (probably called something more impressive like "emulsion" or "foam"; they serve a lobster menu so I guess they have a lot of shells to work with) and some parmesan cheese, it was abolutely, fork-droppingly stunning. Fois gras and lobster were meant to be together. You know that feeling like you have to put down your fork and chew and make faces like the Galloping Gourmet? That.
Catherine had the crab cake, which was very fragrant, delicious, and perfectly light and crispy.
For an entree we split the sea bass (was it chilean sea bass?) special which was served in a very light broth in which mushrooms predominated. The broth
was slurpingly good and the dish was nice and light. It was served on noodles, which were perhaps unnecessary - I think a vegetable or greens might have worked better as a substrate. We also had "Seared Dorade Royale, Garlic Pomme Puree, Wilted Watercress, Sauce Diable" which was another stunner. The sauce was hard for me to decode, but probably just a wine (maybe marsala) and stock reduction with herbs. The combination of tastes was stellar.
The staff was quite together, despite the comments I had read in the reviews, and they were able to recommend a great selection of cheeses (about which I know nothing). The breads, too, were great. On par or better than Bouley Bakery (my favorite restaurant, for the record). I only regret I didn't take more advantage of the sommelier, but I chose a wine
based on a reliable region: Haut-Medoc Saint-Laurent 1997.
Finally, the dessert was great as well. Caramelized Meringue, Banana-Passion Fruit Sorbet was delicious and beautiful to look at, topped with (pommegranite?) seeds. Outstanding. The Bitter Almond Chocalate Souffle " Adeline" with Pistachio Ice Cream was decadent and absurdly delicious. Assortment of tiny cookies and 6 lemon-beignets were proffered, and the coffee was great too (no trivial point).
The decor didn't wow me, I don't know why it's considered such a nice room. And I didn't find my chair that comfortable. But altogether this was a truly great meal. The menu is mostly seafood (it's on the website), so if you are a diehard carnivore or vegivore consider going elsewhere. Pricey, of course, but right on par I suppose with the other great restaurants of New York. Very highly recommended.
re: Michael L.
zgat's says cost $80/per person incl one drink and tip, but this is impossible to achieve as only a $75 prix fix meal is available!
the bill was something like this
$150 prix fix dinner for 2 (2 times $75)
15 coffee and fizzy water
15 cheese cart
$335 aprox total
So far this year I still enjoy Danube the best as long as you stay with the more flavorful fusion dishes (referred to on the menu as "impressionist" food). Someone ordered the schnitzle, not realizing how plain it would be (the nature of the dish), but that has been the only complaint so far. The last time we were there, the desserts were wonderful as well.
Sono is a nice place too, but for "calmer" well-flavored japanese fusion food, with nice, unhurried service. Good if you want to relax a few hours without being rushed out.
I can only attest to having lunch at Esca during the Christmas holiday season. It was fantastic and not overpriced. However, the restaurant is off the beaten path but well worth the trek. You might find a few people saying it does not live up to the hype! Don't believe what you hear and treat yourself.