I've never reviewed anything on CH before but I felt compelled after an amazing dining experience at Ortolan (both food and service).
My friend and I finally went to Ortolan on Tuesday after talking about it for many months. The restaurant was relatively empty however we have heard that this is typically for Tuesdays and right after the holidays (in this case, Passover). We knew exactly what we were going to get: Menu Plaisir which is an 11 course tasting menu as follows:
Amuse Bouche – 2 test tubes of soup (tomato and thyme), “eggplant caviar” or baba ghanoush (served with bread: variety of ciabatta, wheat, raisin and 1 other)
1) Foie Gras Terrine with chutney of fruit – excellent with toasted brioche bread
2) Bay Scallops – perfectly cooked
3) Egg with whipped cream, vanilla and caviar – served in a hard egg shell. Very rich but delicious
4) Cuttlefish – this was my friend’s favorite. The broth/sauce that it was cooked in was very flavorful
5) Lobster spaghetti with morel mushrooms– gorgeous presentation, the spaghetti was wrapped around the lobster, like a cannoli. Unfortunately this version was prepared differently from the online menu (which called for sea urchin sauce). Hopefully they’ll have it next time!
6) Rouget – fish with crispy skin. Another favorite of my friend’s.
7) Duck Laque – One of my favorites. The duck was cooked perfectly with a caramelized skin, served with a cigar confit. Yummy!
8) Veal – This was also excellent. The veal was delicious and not at all gamey
At this point in time, my friend and I were full and about the keel over. But there was still the cheese plate and desserts to go.
9) Cheese plate/caramel dessert – since I don’t eat cheese, the chef prepared a dessert plate for me instead: caramel parfait with apple sorbet
Sorbet – to cleanse the palate
10) Chocolate Ganache – rich and delectable
11) Panna Cotta – served in a caviar jar with faux caviar made up of strawberry. I really enjoyed this dessert and it was a lovely presentation
Finally, our server came by with petit fours (including macaroons, marshmallows and soft candies). We were definitely stuffed at this point.
Drinks – Since I was sick, I stuck to a 2 drink maximum which included a Bourgone Blanc (excellent, crisp) and the Alma Rossa Chardonnay.
Service – Excellent! Our server Antonio was very knowledgeable, attentive and helpful. Chef Eme came by our table a couple times to check up on us and was both warm and engaging. He also rushed out of the kitchen to bid us goodbye when we left.
I thought the service was exceptional and the food unforgettable. My friend and I have been patrons of many other excellent restaurants including Sona and Providence and we definitely felt that our visit to Ortolan was one of our favorite experiences. The food was excellent and service was outstanding, although I did gain 2 pounds (I weighed!). Totally worth it, I will definitely be back.
Funny timing as I actually went to Ortolan for the first time last night! We stuck with the Menu Seduction, which is 8 courses. At $80, this really is an incredible deal. All the food was very good to excellent, with the scallops and the fish course being the two high points.
The two scallops were wrapped with the thinnest slice of bacon imaginable and cooked perfectly, resting atop a bed of the best paella I've ever had. I always love the idea of paella, but find that the execution generally involves a gummy, rice-a-ronish mess with lots of overcooked protein. The rice here was perfectly toothsome, yet creamy and the mussels and chorizo throughout were done to the perfect level of doneness.
I think the fish was sea bass, but I can't recall and while it also had been cooked perfectly, the best part of this dish, and I think everyone at the table agreed of the whole night, was the amazingly light gnocchi. I truly have never had gnocchi this good and it's a little sad that the leaden lumps you get most places and these magnificent morsels share the same name. We had the same strawberry faux caviar (fauxviar?) for dessert which is a really inventive twist and as others have posted, is presented adorably in an old caviar tin.
Service was excellent, although we were the only party in the entire restaurant for most of the evening, so I would hope that would be the case. When our server overheard me commenting on how much I liked the milk chocolate macarons that were served as mignardises, she brought out another round of raspberry macarons filled with lemon curd, which I thought was very sweet (pun intended). Chef Eme also came out as we were leaving to ask how we enjoyed the meal.
Considering that we also started with bread and with the test tubes of carrot and asparagus soup and finished with mignardises, none of with are included in the 8 courses, the Seduction Menu averages less than $10 per course, which I haven't really seen since Jose Centano was at Opus.
Great for you!! I love, love, love Ortolan. Chef Eme is a consummate gentleman, and very easy on the eyes!! I'm so glad to hear they are still at the top of their game - I fear in this economy that more & more people are not frequenting places like this. I guess the upside is it leaves more room & attention to those of us who do go!
So glad to read your reviews!