Dining at Chanterelle Tuesday
My wife and I had a lousy experience there. We quickly learned that unless you're getting the full tasting menu and a $200+ bottle of wine you're not going to be treated well. We were forced to wait in the "lounge" while other parties of two were seated ahead of us, the service was indifferent and non-existent, and the food frankly was just ok. Realizing their mistake they ultimately comped all our drinks and dessert (to their credit), but we won't go back.
That doesn't seem quite fair, lookingforpig. I've eaten there lots of times and have always found the service to be impeccable, no matter what anyone does or does not order. As good as the staff is, they are not mind readers so being "forced" to wait in the lounge could not possibly have had anything to do with tasting menus or $200 bottles of wine. And, hell, they comped your drinks and dessert...what more cold they have done? The place is special...food, service, decor, table spacing...please..
It's not that they should have "done more" after having a bad experience, it's that we should not have had a bad experience in the first place. As for "reading our mind" it doesn't take a mind reader to figure out that waiting on that dirty and uncomfortable couch next to the door that keeps letting in cold air is not preferable to sitting at a table.
My family and I just had dinner there on Sunday. It was a lovely experience - I found the service, food and wine to be quite good. (As an aside, try to get a table away from the huge flower arrangements on each side of the room -- several of us had strong reactions to the lillies and we requested to move to another table.) I didn't select the wine so I can't speak to the winelist but I started with the seafood sausage (one of their signature items), which was good but liked the squash ravoli w/ oxtail ragu much better (not-so-sneakily taken from my husband's plate). Several of us had the lamb, cooked medium which was perfect and my husband had the duck, which was quite good as well. Get the cheese plate - its a great way to end the meal. Enjoy!
Well, here's my report.
Our party of four was there on Tuesday. Somehow, they'd lost our reservation but thankfully they were able to accommodate us. I can't say I recall seeing many other tables come in after us, so it's quite possible we were one of the last tables sat at the surprisingly early hour of 8:00.
As this was our first visit, we were walked thru the menu and told (or rather asked) that if ONE of us was going to go with the more elaborate tasting menu, that the chef would request that ALL of us do this. From a standpoint of plating, serving, timing ... we all understood and had no problem reaching consensus.
Our consensus was the three course menu. Frankly, no of us was impressed with the selections on the tasting menu.
We were started off with two amuse bouches, one a hard-boiled quail egg with American (trout?) caviar. The second I'm drawing a blank on, but no question, we were impressed.
For our first dish, my sister got the potato 'risotto' and foie gras and I dare say it was the best foie gras I'd every had in my life. Others went with the squash ravioli and oxtail (great oxtail!), the sushi arrangement (very lovely presentation, ridiculously fresh fish, but ultimately ... it's still sushi) and a chilled seafood and vegetable dish that hinted of curry (delightful).
To start, we had an '89 Prince Poniatowski Clos Baudoin (off-dry chenin blanc) for $55. That's right, an 18 year old bottle of wine from one of the greatest producers in the world (pity the vineyard has been sold) at roughly double the current market price (frankly, it should retail for triple what it does). One of the great restaurant wine experiences of my life.
While we were angling for more seafood with the entrees, we wanted to go with red wine. Knowing French wine best of all, I figured go with Burgundy, but having considerably less confidence among the reds on this list, I sought the advice of our sommelier. After taking into consideration what we were getting, and being very astute about where I was going price wise, he asked if we would consider going with a new world red. Feeling he was on his game, we said yes and went with a Marlborough New Zealand pinot noir (at maybe $75/bottle) to go with our plates of lamb, cod, turbot and sturgeon, a dish I hadn't had in maybe five years and was sadly a little disappointed with. All others were home runs. The wine was a gutsy little bugger reminding me of a Morey Saint Denis; the one fault in the wine service was this wine should have been decanted about ten minutes before but the selection was on target.
Desserts were two orders of the prune-Armagnac souffle, a hazelnut mousse 'pyramid' and the cheese plate (our rationale was: we've split everything thus far, let's cough up the cash for the cheese (maybe an additional $12-$24, sorry, I forgot the exact cost). The desserts were a real hit and the cheese plate, though I had concerns about the cost, lived up to the hype.
My sister was celebrating her birthday and the house treated us to a series of petit fours and my sister to the surprisingly (to me) dense quince/apple tart.
A delightful room, spectacular service, great dishes and a surprisingly value-friendly wine list made this a top ten, perhaps top five, Manhattan dining experience. If you'd said that would be how I expected to walk out of it, you'd be mistaken. I had high expectations, yet genuinely expected to be disappointed. Instead, they soared past. My Zagat vote would be 26, 27, 28 (food, decor, service).
Pricey? You bet, but as someone who has blown loads of money on tasting menus elsewhere, I'd hardly say I felt taken advantage of.
I have not been in some time so I cannot comment on food and defer to other hounds. I still remember everything was flawless, service was excellent and the food was delicious (especially the foie gras). The dining room is a bit formal for my taste and that is the only reason I have not gone back. Thanks for reporting your experience and glad it was a very good one.
I have been going there almost since it started at Grand & Greene so I do have some prejudice. However, I have always found the food to be excellent and the servers have absolutely no attitude.
With that said, they do sometimes get behind on table seating.
In terms of ordering a $200.00 bottle of wine or being treated badly, I do not believe that at all. In fact, I have hardly ever ordered a wine of that magnitude. The trick is to ask the sommelier, Roger Dagorn to recommend a wine in your price range. He is one of the few master sommeliers in the US and very amiable.
Regardless of what is said on this board, I still believe this is one of the best and most consistent food in NYC.