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Review of Corton

I went to Corton this past Saturday for dinner with my best friend. It's a quaint place in Tribeca and it's easy to miss. I know I walked past it before circling back for the door. Once inside, it's quite nice. The clean, crisp whiteness of the place is elegant and sophisticated. It's small and intimate but the high ceilings makes it feel bigger.

Through the door, I was quickly asked for my coat and the host knew exactly whom I was. My friend had already arrived and was sitting at the bar enjoying a glass of wine. We were quickly escorted to our table and our waitress approached us. We were greeted and given the menus. Our choice were either a 3 course prix fixe at $85 or the tasting menu at $145. We looked at the tasting menu but I was excited about all the choices. We opted for the prix fixe instead.

When the waitress came back, we placed out order. Quickly after that we were presented with some amuse bouche. One was a gougere type bite was a soft, and delicious cheese in the middle. It was fantastic. Ather was a bagel like bite but was quite forgettable. Another had some kind of blue cheese on a pastry. I liked this one too. But my favorite was a soup with foie gras in the bottom. Delicious!

Afterwards, our appetizers came. I ordered the foie gras and my friend had the farm egg. Both were beautifully presented like artwork. And the tableside service pouring the sauce/soup was great. Each dish came with a few small side dishes. They were surprises that we happily accepted.

I loved my foie gras that came as a ball in a beet gelee. The accompaniment were fanastic and I ate all of it. My friend loved her egg which was runny and soft. She had a slew of extra dishes and couldn't finish it all.

For entrees we had the lamb and the beef, both medium rare. They came out cooked perfectly (I assumed they were souv vide) and the sauce poured on tableside. Again, a slew of accompaniments. They were so many that I can't even remember them all. I felt overwhelmed but not in a bad way. I was happy to have received so much delicious food. We both started on our dishes and loved every little bite of it. Again, we finished off our plates. We were so happy with the food. Although, it seemed like a lot we had room for dessert.

I picked the chocolate tart and my friend had the clafoutis. Again, delicious. The tart was rich and decadent but not too much where I couldn't finish it. It was delicious. The clafoutis was light but buttery at the same time. It reminded me of a madeline but much better.

After dessert we were presented with a couple of gelees. Normally, I don't like gelees and wouldn't really care for them. But these were nice. They were soft and citrusy.

Then came out the truffles and bon bons. They asked which one would we like to try. And of course we had one of each. There were 3 types of macaroons: chocolate, lemon, and passion fruit. The last one was our favorite. Lastly, we had a slew of chocolates of different flavors. Our favorite was the simple dark chocolate ganache.

We really enjoyed our meal. So much so that we didn't even notice that it took 4 hours. I don't think all the diners took that long since some showed up and left before us. But we were having such a good time and the timing of everything was fantastic.

I don't have a single bad thing to say about Corton. It was just lovely and would absolutely go back again without a doubt. Service, food, decor, just everything was great.

239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

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  1. Great. I'm going for the first time in a couple of weeks. Can't wait.

    1. Thanks. I will be going next week and hope I will enjoy it as much as you did.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rrems

        Okay, so we went last night and unfortunately were not especially impressed. Not that anything was bad, but when I think of all the wonderful food we have had at comparably priced places such as EMP, SHO,The Modern, Jean-Georges, Picholine, Veritas, etc. and at not-so-expensive ones like Tabla, Cru, Olana, Aldea, etc. I think this place is seriously overhyped and overpriced. My understanding is that Paul Liebrandt used to do really avant-garde cooking but has toned it down at Corton, yet it was still supposed to be characterized by bold flavors and unusual combinations. We found it timidly seasoned, almost bland. I also found it a bit confusing, with the bunch of separate plates for each course. Are you supposed to take a bit from each plate and eat it together, or eat each part separately? We tried both ways and it didn't really work either way. Taken individually the dishes were one-dimensional, and together some of the flavors did not really meld. For the record, the dishes we ordered were the foie gras,egg, cod and beef. I particularly felt the foie was very ordinary comparted to many others I've had. Desserts, noted in earlier posts on this board as being inferior, don't seem to have improved. Though my partner's clafoutis was pretty good, my brioche was odd. I was expecting something like a bread pudding, but it was just a piece of dry toasted brioche, the exact same one served with the foie gras, with some fruit and cheese and sauce on top. The menu was even more limited than the one on their website, though since this was our first (and only) time that was not a problem for us. The wines are insanely expensive, and on the lower end the mark-up is more than 3 times retail. It was obvious from a glance around that the majority of customers were business diners, presumably on expense accounts.

        1. re: rrems

          We didn't like the room, we found the food too precious and unexciting, and felt the whole experience was soul-less. I have no desire to go back after the one visit.

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            I thought Corton had improved? We went when they first opened . . .

      2. i recall tasting a lobster knuckle there with this orange sauce. i was left speechless by how good it was. one of the better meals i had in 2009.

        1. I just went for the first time. The amuses were amazing and kept on coming. The bread service was excellent. We had the prix fixe and added a course each. The pacing of the meal was perfect.
          My seafood appetizer was very special, multiple small plates of yumminess.
          The Mangalista pork was outstanding. The duck was presented two ways. First a little pie of leg confit and then the breast. The presentation was just beautiful. I am not a great fan of Lola duck. I prefer Moulard.
          The desert was outstanding. A dark chocolate ganache log and the S/O had a French toast and fruit contraption.
          The service was not intrusive and very professional. The wines and the sommelier were great.
          The price was hefty, but we ate and drank a lot.
          I would go back anytime. I thought that it was just as good if not better than EMP and certainly better that The Modern.
          I loved the innovative food and platings. The plates themselves were gorgeous too.

          12 Replies
          1. re: pups224

            Thanks for the review. I'm a huge fan of Corton as well, and also prefer it to EMP or The Modern.

            239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

            1. re: pups224

              Thanks for the great review! I'm having dinner at Corton tomorrow evening for the first time.

              239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

              1. re: ellenost

                Enjoy it, Ellenost. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Danny Meyer and I adore The Bar Room at The Modern and Gramercy Tavern but Corton is really interesting and eating your dinner makes you think about what is going on in your mouth. The intelligence of the cooking is also very fine.
                I guess that I need to go to Chicago and eat at Alinea.
                Looking forward to your review.

                Gramercy Tavern
                42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

                239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                1. re: pups224

                  Had an excellent dinner at Corton last night. We chose the tasting menu and supplemented it with the foie gras. The food at Corton is probably among the most creative, interesting, artistically presented, and most importantly, delicious food I've eaten in any restaurant. Sometimes I wasn't exactly sure what I was eating due to the too quck description by the servers, but everything (with the exception of one of the desserts that had too much rum for my liking) was great. Service was attentive. Butter was replenished before needing to request, and water glasses were also refilled before needing to request. Presentations were dramatic (duck presented in a smoke filled glass vessel; turbot presented tableside before slicing). Portion sizes were very good--not too small and not too large. Pacing of courses was excellent. Dinner took about 4 hours. If you dine at Corton be prepared for an exciting culinary adventure.

                  239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                  1. re: ellenost

                    That duck sounds interesting! I'll definitely return to Corton for the tasting menu.

                    239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                    1. re: Riverman500

                      Do so - in my personal opinion in is every bit as good as the other NYT 4-Star restaurants and much better than Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, and Del Posto.

                      It is difficult to compare to EMP as the styles are starky different, but what Liebrandt is doing there is stunning.

                      When I get around to the full review I'll clarify the things Ellenost wasn't sure - I will note the wait staff was heavily accented and on some occasions mumbly over the extremely loud group across the way.


                      Jean Georges
                      1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                      Del Posto
                      85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                      Le Bernardin
                      155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                    2. re: ellenost

                      Huh. This thread (esp. recent reviews) made me really want to try Corton soon.

                      1. re: uwsister

                        I had always been curious about the restaurant and Liebrandt's cooking (especially since I had dined at Gilt when he was the chef), and finally had an opportunity to try Corton. I was very pleased. It's not for everyone. Not for people that want classically prepared cooking. But if you're adventerous in food, I think you'll be very pleased. This is definitely not my mother's type of food--she had joined me when we dined at Gilt--not to her liking.

                      2. re: ellenost

                        I am so glad that you had the same opinion that I did. This is an excellent restaurant and so worth going to.
                        It was not full the night that I went which made me apprehensive.
                        Was the restaurant full when you were there?

                        1. re: pups224

                          it was ~1/3 full when we arrived and only one table was open when we left.

                          What Liebrandt is doing there is something special - in my opinion it is the most "original" of the fine dining experiences in the city. Gagnaire-light. :-)

                          If I lived in New York I'd say Corton would be my special events dinner place each time the seasonal tasting menu changed while EMP and The Modern would be my special events lunch places.

                          Bouley's menu simply doesn't change often enough and Per Se is simply too pricey to do too often - but both warrant a return visit in the future.


                          Per Se
                          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                          239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                          1. re: uhockey

                            Is the Corton website menu updated uhockey? It always seems to be the same...

                            I was supposed to go in January but unfortunately was hit with 20+ inches of snow that day and there was no way I was driving in that to get to the restaurant. still looking forward to going soon and looking forward to seeing the documentary on Liebrandt

                            239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                            1. re: wreckers00

                              Odd - the menu changes quite frequently (I'd stalked the site for about 3 months prior to going) and the night we went it had actually just been updated and was 100% accurate. It has changed since, but I imagine that (or something very similar) is what they are serving today.


                2. Great review but I'm amazed you didn't mention my favorite part of the meal: the seaweed butter that was served with the bread. Unbelievable!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: eatthisny

                    I first tried seaweed butter three years ago, not made by Chef Paul Liebrandt but created by a Korean chef called "Choi, Hyun Seok".

                    Over the seaweed butter, Chef Choi poured creamy and delicious seafood cream soup with fish, scallops, prawns and clams (kind of like seafood chowder). It was truly divine!


                  2. Just went to Corton for the first time. We loved Montrachet and used to go all the time so we finally got back to see what had taken its place. The space was much nicer than the worn out rooms Montrachet had become. When we talked to the server about the changes from Montrachet, she pointed out that the 4 tables on the left as you come in were still original which was a nice touch as we had been seated at some of the same tables in the prior life. There were several amuses which ranged from tasty to odd. The parmesan marshmellow was striking between its texture and flavor. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The sommelier picked out an outstanding bottle of chablis for us. Ordered the flavors of winter mushrooms and my wife had the vegetable platter for starters. My appetizer came on 3 different plates and I wasn’t sure how to proceed so I just polished the plates off in sucession. Great flavors but I couldn’t identify mushrooms in anything but one sample. The vegetables were also highly transformed so that we were left guessing as to what some of the items were and had to ask the server. For the mains, I ordered the poularde and my wife the lobster. When the dishes came I to hold back from laughing when I was told that there was both breast and leg as neither was identifiable. A small piece of lobster tail on my wife’s plate was the only thing that we could recognize. The flavors were intense but at the end, it was a strangely unsatisfying meal. I guess we were looking to be able to link the flavor a bit more with the food. Call me a philistine but when you eat chicken, you might want it to look something like chicken instead of a cube of marble wrapped with a cloak of chocolate.

                    239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Bkeats

                      Like Bkeats, I also loved Montrachet, way back when. I went to Corton again , I did not enjoy much this time. I may do a separate review, with pictures and descriptions, but it's late,so i'll wait on that.
                      The ambiance is kind of stark. They need some art on the walls, I think. The dishes look beautiful, but nothing is identifiable in looks or in taste. They had 2 tasting menus, I went with the $155 tasting. I had in the past complained about the small dishes at Brooklyn Fare, but at least they had 20 of them. Corton has about 6 excluding dessert items. The servers were not very knowledgeable as to which accompaniments should be eaten in what order or with what. For a place that charges as much as they do, they should hire more knowledgeable staff, and preferably some that can pronounce the food names. One dish I was told had "Jogo" in it, it took a while but figured out that he was saying Yogurt. It is annoying when you can't understand what they are saying. I had the same problem at Sho. Also, the mixture of flavors didn't go. Some sauces didn't work and some accompaniments ruined the taste of the dish it was served with. The foie gras dish surrounded by crabmeat, you have to really try hard to taste the foie gras or even notice it. The pistachio crispy bread or chip was real good. The wine I chose myself, seeing one of my favorite white wines and one of my favorite red wines. I didn't want to spend $300 on a Hermitage La Chappelle ( I used to pay $80 in the wine shop),, but I did spring for the $200 Corton- Charlemagne , which was fantastic. They never asked us if we wanted dessert wine with the cheese course,,actually we didn't see anyone after it was served. They did calm me down after i complained and comped us some port, but that was a bit late. The desserts were really good.
                      The bill for 3 of us with tip, beverage tax etc was $900. It would have been $950 if the port wasn't comped. Again, the dishes looked beautiful, very creative, but the flavors didn't work together. The place is overpriced and for that money, and reputation I expect much more. It pales in comparison to Jean Georges., Brooklyn Fare, Per Se and JUNGSIK. Not it is more closely related to the now gone Sho. The menu will sound good, but you will wonder what you are eating. I won't be back, especially with Jungsik a few blocks away, with better food, more food, at a lower price.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        >The servers were not very knowledgeable as to
                        >which accompaniments should be eaten in what order or with what.
                        >For a place that charges as much as they do,
                        >they should hire more knowledgeable staff,
                        >and preferably some that can pronounce the food names.

                        Amen to that.
                        This is exactly one of a few things that make me revisit Corton less often.
                        With lack of detailed explanations, I just don't know what I am eating there most of the time.

                        Another thing is, Corton used to have Seasonal & Tasting menu that were totally different from each other. Last month, I tried both on two separate occasions and a lot of side dishes as well as a dessert served in both menus were identical. This prevents me from revisiting more frequently too.

                        1. re: kosmose7

                          They did have an Autumn menu and a Tasting menu. The seasonal was $110, tasting $155. Without the descriptions, the Autumn courses were: !)Sunchoke royal, confit egg yolk, ocean trout jam on, bonito flakes 2) Matsutake in butter with soba 3) Smoked madai
                          4) Guinea hen , terrine of red shrimp 5 ) strawberry sorbet 6) fig ice cream

                          Tasting menu: a chawanmushi amuse,, with some other amuses,,
                          1) Peekytoe Crab/foie gras wrapped in cabbage gellee
                          2) Wild pigeon with yogurt puree ,pigeon jus and dentil of coffee and bitter chocolate
                          3) Mochi ice cream
                          4) japanese mackerel with eggplant ash seasoned tiwh bergamot paste and smoked bone marrow and olive crumble,,,, ( an ok dish, but you would have no idea of all these ingredients being in it)
                          5) Beef Rib tartare and naan and fig paste on naan,,, also sliced beef rib with spices horseradish puree foiegras and hazelnut royal,, ( flavors didn't go)
                          6) then Berkswell cheese 7) a maple creme sour cherry puree, coffee sponge cake, almond toast ice cream ( very good)
                          Followed by chocolates and Macaron.
                          So they did have two menus that were different. The regular menu seemed like the better choice, i don't think either were the better choice. See menu pages to see accurate description ( which doesn't really explain that you get a dish with accompanied dish, i.e. sliced short rib, then a tiny short rib tartare) Some of the accompaniments ruined the taste of the main dish.

                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            Your list is for autumn.
                            I was referring to their summer menu.
                            (And I hesitate to return for the following reason)

                            For summer menu, they had two different courses but the side dishes for 'Guinea Hen for Seasonal menu' and 'Rabbit for Tasting menu' were almost identical. The only difference was hen vs. rabbit:
                            * guinea hen (rabbit) terrine with plum and heirloom tomato.
                            * parmesan gnocci.
                            * shrimp + escargot XO Sauce.

                            Also, one of two desserts in each menu was overlapping, which was not the case in the past. Chocolate: mast brothers sambirano valley royale, apricot, caramelized white sesame, roasted cocoa nibs.

                            So you see, even if I go back for autumn menu, I will probably go only once rather than twice, and order only one of the two menus because I don't wanna have overlapping dishes.

                            1. re: kosmose7

                              I went mid-August and the menu was not redundant. Summer menu had:
                              1) Guinea hen ballotine, terrine of ruby red shrimp, tomato | coco paste, jus roti
                              2) Parmesan gnocchi, creme blanc
                              3) Guinea hen | tomato "plume", xo sauce
                              versus Tasting menu:
                              1) Rabbit royale with cheese, brioche, crispy potato, pistachio, ramp mayonnaise
                              2a) Slow-cooked loin, confit of sepia, cucumber | 2b) [foie with] Chartreuse [gelee]

                              So, the main courses were quite differentiated. And there were 4 desserts that day. On the other hand, the Maple dessert was a repeat in that it was a Tasting Menu-sized version of, and otherwise identical to, the Maple served on the Spring menu several months back. But I'm okay with repetition--just as with music where multiple hearings of the same piece serve to elicit greater insight and enjoyment--I mean, repetition per se isn't a bad thing.

                              1. re: calf

                                Well you were obviously luckier than I was.

                                I sometimes don't mind repetition either, if I really like certain dishes. I even keep ordering the same dish at some restaurants if I really like it.

                                But if they use the same side dishes for both hen and rabbit, when they offer only two course menus, well... The chef gotta work a little bit harder I think.

                                1. re: kosmose7

                                  I don't like repetition, that is of not very good food. With servers who do not know what they are serving, cannot give advice on which to eat first, and tastes that do not go. I will do no repetition in returning to Corton. Jean Georges, Per Se, Jungsik, would be my preference. Of course 15 East , Ichimura etc. Brooklyn Fare raised their price to a ridiculous level for "counter dining" and repetitious tiny courses.( they love citrus at Bklyn Fare) ,,Oh yeah ,,i love Kyo Ya too.

                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                    Haha, I get your criticisms. There are valid points about ways their service could be better, but I enjoyed their food so much that I myself am okay with glossing over the other aspects. I think the restaurants most comparable with Corton are Atera and wd~50, and even then the personality of the cuisine at each of these is so distinct—and typically, polarizing. JG, Per Se, and EMP are fantastic but I go to those for a somewhat different kind of experience.

                                    1. re: calf

                                      Well, i'm attaching some pictures of most of the dishes. Some didn't come out so nice ( crumby phone cam). I also took a pic of the menu, so you can try to read that for descriptions. As i said, the presentation is beautiful. But figuring out what your eating is sometimes a challenge.

                                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                                        That's how we felt about our experience. Beautiful presentations. Not sure what we were eating. I guess its form over substance in one way. Its more important that it looks spectacular even if that doesn't add anything to the taste. I do remember the desserts being quite good though. We will probably try it again.

                    2. My thoughts up here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7679...

                      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013