OPUS TM - 2/10/2007
All of the rave reviews on this board left us eager to try this new chef and see what it was all about... just to back up a bit, we have been comparing TM's around town and have already been to Spago and Providence, Hatfield's and Sona (which,I might add, we thought was very over rated) - so, Opus had some stiff competition...
Our rez was at 7pm and we snagged one of those yummy tables in the back with oversized leather arm chairs that you can just sink into... a good thing since our adventure managed to take 4+ hours! The restauarant was pretty empty for a Sat. night, although it did pick up around 8-8:30 but never got full... Anyway, we had called ahead and found out if you plan to buy a bottle you can bring a bottle with no corkage - otherwise,a $20/corkage applies. We brought a lovely bottle of Grande Dame Champagne which got our evening off on the right foot... instead of buying a bottle we opted for the pairings and just skipped the first pairing and drank our bubbly (PS they did waive the corkage) - first before the tasting we ordered a trio of their bar dips - which were good but not spectacular yet at 3 for $5.00 it makes a plentiful and tasty snack with a cocktail...problem was the champagne and dips really put me over the top before the night was over but live and learn - OK - So, to start us off, the chef offered a yummy little amuse bouche which was a celery seed pana cotta that although a tiny but salty was mostly rich and delicious and the soup handle for scooping out the bottom was a good tip (thank you fellow Chow poster) -- MUCH tastier than the muse at Sona the previous week, I might add... there was A LOT Of alcohol and soo many courses so, if I mess up the order please forgive me - I think next was the breakfast in an eggshell that I have seen described on this board many times - a hollowed out egg shell filled with a drop of farina, crumbled bacon, a poached egg and creme fraich (I also can't spell - so bare with me!) - this was tasty and creative but I will say I thought the egg was slightly hard for my taste and I would have preferred it made with a duck egg and pancetta - or even caviar - but it was tasty and clever - I think next was some very fresh hamachi sashimi (3 slices) perfectly seasoned with seaweed and sea salt served with some fried thing on a stick that was delicious and had a cute name - but I forgot what it was...moving on, we were treated to a a fabulous dish made with crab meat and a caviar of cucumber and blood orange - how the chef made the perfect little balls of blood orange and cucumber, I have no idea - but it was spectacular and light (which was good because this was the most food I have ever had on a 6 TM anywhere - relatively big portions and courses that just kept coming) I think after that was the soup - which was a hazelnut soup with scallops, fois gras and tiny halved red grapes - a little foamy and very delicious although I do think my fois gras was slightly undercooked - although my husband swears his was not - anyway, another creative and risky combo that worked. Oh - the wine pairings ... there were a lot of whites (4) for my taste and by the time we finally got to a red, I was so toasted and full - but I must say the wines were all very nice selections and I think the pairings worked extremely well. Okay, back to the menu, I think next was a fish - maybe Dory or skate, I can't recall exactly - crisped on the skin side and layered on something else -- again delicious but already I was pushing the zone - remember, this was only a 6 course TM and already we had 6 but there were 3 more to come - next we had what I believe was veal cheek that was served a top another meet (was it short rib?) and veggies - I could barely eat it, not becuase it was not delicious but because I was already so full!!
Next there was not one but two deserts -- by this time I was already tuning out -- what I can say is I recall they were both fresh and yummy - one with some type of granita and ice cream and the other, I swear I cannot recall... I was officially at my limit (although my hubby ate every last bite and thought the meal was spectacular)...Upon leaving, the waiter had the valet pull up our car so no waiting and we met the chef who is charming and enthusiastic - OH, and I hear Food and Wine is coming in toward the end of the month so, the easy reservation may soon be a thing of the past. Is it on the level of Providence and Spago - hard to say - in my opinion Chef Centeno at Opus takes many more risks and is not as established at WGP or Cimarusti (sp??) so it is different - also, I don't think the presentations were quite as artful as the winner's of my top spot honors - but I wouldn't take my eye off this guy... already I am a huge fan - the value is unbeatable and the room is lovely - I hadn't been there since it was the Atlas and the room is completely changed, more warm, more intimate and very comfortable...judging the total experience and price tag - we will definately be back. The 6 TM (which is like 9 or 10 courses) with pairings is only $95 so, if the chef decides to take a risk that isn't quite "spot on" once in a while - there is still so much good that the value is unequaled. One more note, we felt so rushed at Sona last week that the slow, leisurely pace of this meal was a welcomed change.
In order, so far, I would have to say the best TM's in town are Spago (terrific) , Providence (superb) , Opus (creative), Hatfield's (solid but a little boring), Sona (over rated)...
believe it or not, we haven't been to Patina since they moved from Melrose and what is now Providence but as I recall, they were also pretty great and when I can figure out a special enough reason for my hubby and I to drop $700 or so, Urasawa is high on my list of things to do before I die - or maybe even before summer! We'll see... meanwhile, I welcome YOUR recommendations... what's your favorite TM in town??
My wife and I also had the 9-course TM at Opus and the dishes were quite tasty. We also had the amuse of panna cotta and, while it was delicious, we found that the "spoon" (or whatever it's called) was too wide to reach the bottom of the serving glass. It was the same problem with the root beer float dessert.
We had several of the same items and I agree with a few of your observations -- egg was a little hard in the egg dish; too many white wines; and our hazelnut soup had a lobster ravioli instead of foie gras...I would have liked the foie gras, and the soup wasn't really warm enough. Overall, though pretty much the same conclusion -- fun experience, some tasty dishes, good value, very relaxing. Good tip on the corkage, thanks.