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Apr 10, 2011 09:04 PM

Truly Epic Meal: Five Star Fish Dinner at Corton

As usual, full review with photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

My previous experience with a one-night-only special chef guest stint was an absolutely incredible dinner with Pascal Barbot at Momofuku Ko. This time around, I was just as lucky in getting to experience an epic "Five Star Fish Dinner" at Corton.

The name of this dinner came from the two collaborating chefs, who have 5 Michelin stars between them. The guest chef was Laurent Gras, formerly of L2O in Chicago, which earned three Michelin stars as a seafood-only restaurant under his reign. Chef Paul Liebrandt is the current chef-owner of Corton, which has two Michelin stars for his modern French menu.

We were each welcomed with a glass of champagne upon our arrival. As I had been running late, they were very generous in refilling my friends' glasses of champagne twice before I got there. In fact, they were quite generous with the champagne pours the entire night, as our 7-course dinner came with champagne pairings courtesy of Louis Roederer. The price tag of $195+t/t for 7 courses with champagne pairings was a very good deal, which became an absolute steal as the night went on.

BLOOD ORANGE GELEE AND CRACKER WITH COD AND MANDARIN CREAM Our first set of amuse featured an interestingly presented duo of lightly sweet bites.
The many earthy flavors managed to come together quite delicately.
BLACK OLIVE POTATO CROQUETTE The lightly fried exterior gave way to a delightful hot liquid center.
WHITE ASPARAGUS ROYALE WITH BLACK GARLIC GELEE AND PARMESAN ESPUMA Served in an egg shell, this was a wonderful combination of flavors, showcasing chef Liebrandt's use of black garlic and foam.

Bread service consisted of slices of country bread, picholine olive and rosemary rolls, and baguettes smoked with eucalyptus. All the breads had good strong flavors, but my favorite was the baguette, which was perfect for soaking up the sauces from our dishes. There was sea salt, cow's milk butter, and seaweed butter. The butters were fine, but I did not detect a notable flavor in the seaweed butter.

Our first pairing was a Louis Roederer Brut 2000 (magnum).
TAI SNAPPER WITH CRISPY SKIN, RED MISO, PICKLED RADISHES This was beautifully presented on a block of ice. The red miso flavor was really nice, with a hint of smokiness that matched well with the fish and the pickled radishes. The flesh was quite robust and provided a satisfying mouthful of food. The skin was crisp and melted in my mouth, but did not provide a lot of flavor.

Our next pairing was a Louis Roederer Brut 2003. It was mentioned that there was no Cristal that year, and that some of those grapes made it into this Brut.
RAINBOW TROUT WITH OSCETRA CAVIAR, NICOISE OLIVE, LARDO, GOAT MILK Another beautiful presentation. The flavors were strong all around, but complemented the rainbow trout which held up to the strong flavors.The fish practically melted in my mouth, and the combined textures were wonderful.

Our first taste of Cristal was the Cristal 1993 (magnum). This went very well with the stronger flavors of our next course.
SMOKED HALIBUT BOUILLON WITH SEPIA, RUBY RED SHRIMP, HALIBUT JAMON, SEA URCHIN, AND GREEN GARLIC The variety of treasures from the sea provided an array of beautiful colors and great texture contrasts. The star of this dish, however, was the broth. From a terrific dashi base, the smoked halibut added a rich smokiness to the broth that highlighted the sweetness of the accompanying seafood.

Our next pairing was a Cristal 1997 (magnum).
MONKFISH WITH RED WINE ESSENCE, BONE MARROW, QUAIL EGG, LEEK, AND TRUMPET MUSHROOM PUREE The firm monkfish meat served as a wonderful vehicle for the other strong flavors in this dish. The red wine essence was another great sauce, and was vital here as the sweetness was needed to cut the heavier flavors. They provided an ample amount of the sauce, which I happily mopped up with a smoked baguette.

Our final savory course pairing was a Cristal 2004.
ALASKAN KING SALMON WITH RAZOR CLAM, PIQUILLO PEPPERS, PARSLEY, SALMON 'JUS' The salmon was incredibly cooked, soft yet slightly flaky, and bursting with flavor. The pepper puree coating provided a great texture complement and resulted in a bite with a terrific mouthfeel. The color of the sauce on the white plate helped to highlight the beautiful bright colors on the plate. With a additional touch of pepper flavor, this was another delicious sauce that I happily soaked up with bread.

Our pairing for the first sweet course was a Louis Roederer Rose 2006.
RHUBARB WITH ORCHID ICE CREAM AND STRAWBERRY MERINGUE At first, when I tasted the components separately, I thought the orchid ice cream was too floral. However, once I combined everything into one bite, the flavors were absolutely magical together. Furthermore, the ice cream, meringue, crunch, and jelled fruit was a wonderful combination of textures.

Our final pairing of the night was a Louis Roederer extra dry.
SAFFRON VANILLA FUDGE WITH MATCHA GREEN TEA SABLE, MANGO GANACHE, AND VANILLA A wonderful arrangement of common dessert flavors. The salt and saffron drew out the flavor of the chocolate while the matcha, mango, and vanilla was a great progression of sweetness in one bite.

The petit fours began with currant and passionfruit gelees.
Followed by honey bourbon truffles.
Cocktail-inspired macarons with sidecar and mojito flavors.
Chocolates filled with salted caramel, dark chocolate ganache, meyer lemon, and espresso.
Some financiers for us to take home.

They were very nice and brought us extras of the ones we wanted.

In all, it was a truly epic meal. Even at the best restaurants I've been to, I would consider a meal amazing if all the dishes were good, but a few were spectacular. In this case, every dish was spectacular, from the egg shell amuse all the way through dessert. The fact that the champagne kept coming and that the cost was extremely reasonable made it even more special.

Both chefs were gracious and humble when we thanked them for the wonderful meal. While I know that the meal was a collaboration, I am very excited to revisit Corton on its own. In fact, a fellow diner felt that chef Liebrandt has improved upon his previous mentor Pierre Gagniere.

239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

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  1. Wow. Had to be a onetime thing in terms of the chefs, but wouldn't it be great to have a tasting menu of this, even w/o the complimentary Roederer Champage.
    If you can post how you found out about this event, maybe I can plan for similar ones.

    1. Sounds absolutely wonderful. I wish I had been there. Having eaten at both L2O (when LG was there) and Corton, I can only imagine what those two could pull off together. Thank you for the review.

      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

      1. Thanks for this report. Corton is among my favorites, and while I have not been to L2O, I am hoping that Laurent Gras sets up shop in NYC.

        239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

        7 Replies
        1. re: Riverman500

          I received an invitation from the James Beard Foundation about some dinners that Laurent Gras has at Chelsea Market. (I received this invitation almost 2 weeks ago, so I don't know whether there is any availability left).

          1. re: ellenost

            I think he's the first chef doing their Chelsea Market pop up restaurant. But I wonder if the food will be as formal and serious as the food I had at the fish dinner. I think when he originally left L2O his plan was to do something more casual.

            1. re: fooder

              I went yesterday. It's 4 tables/seatings of 20 people per communial table. It had a very cool, casual vibe and the food was great, although I wouldn't say "epic" like fooder's experience at Corton.

              We had a halibut ceviche, butter-poached crab meat, and then rib-eye with foie. For dessert it was a raspberry-topped "consommé" (ice cream) which was refreshing.

              It was an unbelievable deal at only $83 per person, TOTAL (tip, tax included). Even the person doing coat check wouldn't take tips.

              239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

              1. re: deepfry7

                deepfry7, did the space seem crowded? I haven't been and can't tell from looking at a few of the pictures. Nonetheless, I'm excited, I have tickets for Saturday night and am looking forward to trying his food.

                1. re: TheDegustationAsian

                  TheDegustationAsian - not crowded at all. Big space (it's in 30 minute shifts so the service isn't too bad). I was in the 8pm (last) table/shift and we waited like 10 minutes and were given 2 glasses of complimentary champagne at some bar tables in the front. I don't want to give too much away b/c its a fun and relatively unique experience. We chatted with some of our neighbors at the communial tables as well.

                  Owlwoman - it's on 9th Ave between 15th and 16th St, next to the big opening to Cheslea Market. THere's a side door to this open space where the pop-up is.

                  Also, Chef Gras comes out at the end of service to chat, take pictures, and sign menus.

            2. re: ellenost

              Thanks for the tip ellenost. The JBF dinners appear to be sold out, but Gras will be cooking at BLT Fish on May 2.

              BLT Fish
              21 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

              1. re: Riverman500

                Deepfry, thanks for the report on the JBF dinner, we have tickets for Fri. night, very excited! Where was it in the Chelsea Market?

          2. Great pics and review fooder. Can you explain a bit more about the rainbow trout with caviar? What was the fish encased in?

            1 Reply
            1. re: nextguy

              In all honesty I'm not sure. The casing was not strong enough to steal attention from the caviar and the fish. Given the dish description and what's on the plate my guess is that was the olive component.