Review - dinner at Tocqueville
Made reservations almost four weeks ago for dinner at Degustation. When I hadn't received a confirmation call the day before, I worried. Whoever took my information (a guy who spoke little English) never entered it into their book -- great! So now it's the day of my SO's 25th birthday and I have nowhere to take him. Word to the wise: if you want to dine at Degustation (but after this experience, I'm not rushing to go there), make reservations with someone who speaks English fluently. Ugh.
We ended up going to Tocqueville instead. Much more romantic and innovative, but a bit pricier. This, of course, was our own fault. We went for the five-course tasting ($95) and wine pairing ($60) instead of ordering a la carte.
While the service was wonderful and the food flavorful, my SO and I were not "wowed". As he said, there was no standout dish that would compel us to come back immediately. But again, it was all tasty.
Amuse: Gruyere gougeres, warm out of the oven - delightful. Next, they brought us goat cheese wrapped in a crispy beet shell... their version of a cannoli. We really enjoyed this, very sweet and creamy. Finally, a duo of tuna: tartare with blood orange sauce and a piece of lightly seared tuna with a pistachio purée. Excellent (one of the best dishes we tried).
Course 1: We requested foie. They served us a nice piece of terrine that was served with some toasted brioche, a rhubarb marmalade, and some thinly sliced beets. I really enjoyed this, though my SO was not blown away.
Course 2: Soft shell crab - one of my favorites! The crab was very meaty and came with some elephant garlic, fresh spring peas, and a few different reductions (parsley, some sweet balsamic-tasting sauce, and something else I can't quite remember). We had just had a delicious Thai-influenced soft shell crab at Perilla. My SO preferred Perilla while I thoroughly enjoyed Tocqueville.
Course 3: I was expecting beef or lamb, but instead we were served veal. Another winner -- this was very earthy and packed with flavor. Accompanied by a carrot purée, fava beans, shallots, morel mushrooms, and a delicious veal jus.
Course 4: Piece of bleu cheese (can't remember from where) served with cinnamon raison bread, quince jam, honeycomb, and rhubarb jelly. When the dish was placed in front of me, I thought there was no way these flavors would go well together. I was wrong, somehow it worked. Individually, however, I thought the condiments were too sweet.
Course 5: The never-ending desserts. I was served a chocolate tasting plate with five variations. My SO was served a passion fruit dish with lots of fresh fruit and a few types of sorbet. They also brought out a sorbet plate with five flavors present: chocolate, raspberry, lime, lemon, and coconut. As if that wasn't enough, they also brought us their delightful date cake complete with a lit candle and "Happy 25th Birthday" on the plate. The date cake was our favorite.
To end the meal, we were brought a selection of cookies and small treats. It was strange that no one offered to bring us coffee or tea (even though we saw other tables being served). I guess if we really wanted some we could have asked for it ourselves.
One thing I can say for sure is that if you dine at Tocquville you will NOT leave hungry. The portions were HUGE, really. Not to mention the unending bread, gougeres, different amuses, and dessert. Overall, an enjoyable (albeit, expensive) meal.
AriB: So sorry to hear about the problem with reservation at Degustation. I was at Degustation last week and am familiar with the person you're referring to. I hope you explained the situation to the management, particularly with respect to your SO's special occasion. Please do, however, give the restaurant another try. My SO and I had the 10 course tasting menu, and it was one of the most memorable dining experiences either of us have had.
The sad part is we were *really* looking forward to dining there. I'm a graduate student (and a foodie) and Degustation is a very affordable option for a unique tasting menu. I might try calling the restaurant tomorrow just to let the management know about the situation, but I do hope we'll make it there in the future.