Classy food, yet it lacked a certain flair. Overall (I would still go back to try other dishes) it was rather predictable. No real "wow" moments. I would compare the food and price to Bouley, but not to Per Se.
Menu and pictures here:
They have a decent after dinner drink menu. The muscat here costs about twice as much as the moscato at l'Impero, and not as generous, portion-wise.
I also had very good Ethiopian Harrar Longberry coffee. $10.
(Per Se's menu, in comparison, is fun to read as well. This one is from last year. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/384299)
went on monday night with out a reservation and sat in one of the two "cubby-holes"
The wine list is great (of course) though the champagne list offered at essex house was more impressive and lengthy. Had a glass of the black label, which was a nice start to the evening since we were alone in the restaurant.
The menu is basically bit sized portions of the real menu, not every dish, but a good portion.
Started with the Jambon served on slices of baguette (a little too thick IMO) with delicious Jambon Iberco (i think), not as dark and rich as a bellota, but nice and gamey with some raw fennel, raw garlic, capers, and a drizzle of olive oil. Bit too many capers for me, but overall the ingredients were of tip top quality and such a simple dish was perfect to nibble on with a glass of the heady Malbec.
Lobster Thermador- which was a nice play on the classic. Half of the upper body stuffed mainly with lobster and mushrooms, herbs and arromatics. Covered with breadcrumbs and nicely toasted. The dish was wonderfully executed. This was difinately a Ducasse dish and the balance was spot on. Enough acidity to peak the lobster, but not enough to dull the herbs, soft mellow and wanted more than the bite size portion!
Braised Pork Belly- was the least favorite of the 4. Belly was moist nice, a little bland but the proportion of fat to meat was about 7:1 way too much fat. Maybe it was to cover up the grainy and dissapointingly flat boudin noir. I was really looking forward to the boudin noir, being a specilty of the region(actually a river in the region if your splitting hairs) for which the restaurant is named, but alas the dish was a mix-up of flavors that relied on the "cheap-tricks" of sweat/fatty/salty combo with little balance and zero of the ducasse delicacy.
Coquille St. Jack- Probably the best of the night,
2 perfectly prepared scallops with a light truffle rich scallop jus, with salsify and "tomato confit" (stolen from the poulet de bresse from essex house!) but just as delicious with the scallop.
Surprisingly the dish elevated the scallops in richness without overpowering the delicacy.... enough to hold up to the Malbec.
The only problem was waiting for a piece of bread for the scallop jus. I had to guard my bowl from about 10 different efficient servers/bussers/maitre d trying to clear it away before i got my bread (which was excellent and on par with Robuchons for the best in the city, IMO).
Will be back for sure. Its a great place to have a glass of wine, snack a bit before going somewhere else if your in the mood. Which is a nice option if serious food is a priority. I am sure the full menu experience would be amazing as well, the room is stunning, but I applaud Mr. Ducasse for extending his cuisine to the small bites market. It made a stunning appetizer and led to a bit of a drunk evening before a plate of pasta at Babbo.