Daniel birthday dinner review
Dinner for 2 at Daniel
Dining Room Atmosphere: A-
Bar Atmosphere: B
Overall experience: A
We had a gift certificate and used it for my 31st birthday (our first as a married couple), and so glad we did! It was a very special experience.
The lady of the party of two (me) started with beverages at the bar, first a muddled kumquat and vodka drink with lemon. A little disappointing, it tasted only like lemon, very sour. Sucked that down, moved on to the lovely White Cosmopolitan (Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, Lime Juice, White Cranberry Juice), which had a huge pink heart icecube (in honor of Valentine’s day) floating in it. The smell was incredible with the elderflower, and the taste was pleasant, but very strong. I’d been hoping to distinguish between the different flavors, but I guess when vodka’s involved, it’s going to dominate! The bar snacks – tiny crostini with black olives – had a wonderful strong, salty taste, confirmed by the husband to taste exactly like pizza-flavored goldfish snacks.
We moved on to dinner…. We opted for the 3-course meal:
I can’t say enough about the service – we had 3 separate servers at our table with different levels of duties. It was lovely, they were all warm, demure, and knowledgeable, and beyond attentive. The room was huge, kind of austere, with no smells or food nor awareness of a kitchen (which was very nice)
The amuse-bouche of the night was parsnip 3 ways, an incredible citrus-flavored shrimp over a parsnip cube, then a creamy, salty parsnip puree, and finally lox over parsnip. It made me feel like I was on a mini iron-chef “Parsnip” judging panel. The shrimp was the best bite of the 3.
Next, a man carrying a delightful basket of various breads came by our table, as would happen a few times during the night. There were wonderful kinds to choose from, including a country seeded bread that I loved, 2 kinds of sourdough, a walnut-raisin that was out of this world, and a salty garlicky one that the hubby adored. Surprisingly, the basics – a mini baguette, a plain sourdough roll – left a lot to be desired – airy, flat-tasting, and not worth eating. Needless to say, we had plenty of wonderful bread to fill up on, which I made the mistake of doing.
First course was for me, a seasonal-menu choice of seared fois gras accompanied by mache, warm apple cubes, and pomegranate seeds. As it always is, the seared fois gras was absolutely insane, but paired with the popping-in-your mouth burst of citrus from the fruit, it was even more outstanding. My only complaint is that it could have been seared a little more to increase the firmness within, b/c the interior of the fois was a bit soupy. However, I did sop this up with the bed when I was convinced no one was looking. The hubby got a lobster appetizer KATAIFI CRUSTED ROCK LOBSTER Broccoli Mousseline, Ricotta Salata Lemon-Pine Nut Gremolata, Sweet Harissa Sauce, which I can’t accurately describe because I don’t like lobster and I was really too focused on my dish to be impressed by anything else anyway. The portions were the perfect size, and definitely not small.
Main course for me was the pork TRIO OF MILK FED PIG FROM QUÉBEC Smoked Belly with Curried Cauliflower Roasted Chop with Romanesco
Ham with Lemon Caper Condiment. I love pork belly prepared asian-style or any kind of bbqed pork product, sausages, ham, etc. But this dish didn’t do it for me as much as I expected. The chopped ham was rubbery to me and paired with a mustard sauce, which I missed on the menu, but I really don’t like. The hubby thought it was fabulous, and he’s much less of a pork person. The chop was excellent, however, slightly dry in a wonderful way, if that makes sense, with just enough fat and skin to make the texture really wonderful. The pork belly cubes, which I thought I would love, were too firm/tough, and the skin was barely chewable it was so hard. But, the hubby thought it was fantastic, so maybe it was just me. He got the DUO OF DRY AGED BLACK ANGUS BEEF Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Porcini Marmalade Seared Rib Eye with Chestnut-Potato Gnocchi, Swiss Chard, which I thought was out of this world. The Rib Eye was firm with a mushroomy background note, surprisingly light and rich all at the same time, an actually refreshing complement to the incredible, unctuous, deeply sweet and savory short ribs. Alternating bites was perfection.
We were tempted by many desserts (and at this point I was too full to really enjoy), but ended up with the wonderful SPICED POACHED PEAR WITH HOT CHOCOLATE SAUCE Almond Frangipane, Earl Grey Ice Cream. The spices were just perfect, a dish full of interesting flavors and drama with warm chocolate poured over the pear, and the earl gray ice cream accompaniment was a surprise on the tongue! We also had the WARM GUANAJA CHOCOLATE COULANT Liquid Caramel, Fleur de Sel, Milk Sorbet, which was a familiar little cake with a liquid center, intensely chocolate. The milk sorbet was rich and custardy – incredible! They put a candle in my dessert, which was delightful, then brought us the other dessert we’d been eyeballing, HONEYCRISP APPLE CONFIT Cinnamon Sablé Breton, Smoked Vanilla
Ice Cream, with a note of congratulations on our recent wedding. I can’t even speak for this as I was painfully full at this point, but he loved it. THEN, they brought us a delightful little plate of 6 miniature different pastries. I’m only somewhat ashamed to say I picked up each one and bit it in half, then fed the other half to the hubby. Each one was amazing. THEN they cleared the table, brought us two perfect white plates, and brought over a plate of chocolates, and asked us to select. I got a tiny toasted sesame one – easily the best piece of chocolate I’ve ever eaten. We were both beyond full at this point. But it was a wonderful experience.
I have noticed the Daniel bashing here. But it seems that the majority of posters give it a thumbs up and it's the same small group of people who complain about it. I'm guilty of it for Magnolia Bakery.
ETA: And I've also had wonderful meals with great service when I've been there as well.