My recent 19-course dining experience at Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare
Due to the nature of tasting menu at Chef's Table (no pics or note taking), I wanted to share with you all my most recent course list at Brooklyn Fare, post-price increase (now $255 pp).
This is a cliff notes version of my entire blog post here: http://www.shellyinreallife.com/2013/...
We had a 10pm Thursday night reservation, and ordered the six glass wine pairing to go with our meal. My sentiment about Chef's Table overall is that in terms of the price per tasting menu, and the crazy amount of luxury items we received as a part of the menu made the whole thing worth the cost - even if it's now $30 more than it was a few months ago. My main gripe about the place is one that we've all heard about - the service.
Surprisingly, on the night that we were there, Chef Ramirez was extremely friendly, and chatting it up with all the guests. The waitresses and sommelier were nice as well, so all this info about how service wouldn't look people in the eye or anything all seemed so weird to me. I didn't really notice it until I found sand in one of my dishes. When I found it, Chef Ramirez came up to me and asked me how my meal was so I told him about it. At which point, he told me he'd take care of it. Which meant tossing out my dish, not replacing it, and doing not much else to remedy the situation. Instead, I was ignored by him for the rest of the night as he continued to happily chat with everyone else but my part. I found it odd that you get that type of level of service at a 3 Michelin Star Restaurant - if I ever found bites and bites of sand in my dish at any other place, SOMETHING would have been done to help make it a better experience, even if it meant just being nice to me.
That said, I still loved the majority of the canapes that were served, all the hot cooked fish were perfectly smoked or seared. The infamous hokkaido uni dish with a piece of shaved truffle winter truffle blew my mind, never really had uni so fresh before. Finished off the savory courses with a perfect piece of waygu beef. Honestly I don't think I could have asked for a better meal. Here's the complete list of courses:
1. Cucumber Sorbet, started off the meal as a great palette cleanser, not too sweet and a great light way to start off the meal with dessert.
2. ** Oyster with Granny Smith Apple w/ Puffed Rice, this dish was outstanding to me. I loved the intense layers of flavor that develops as you slowly enjoy your bite. The oyster was balanced with sweetness from the apple, I loved the crème fraîche on the bottom of bits of shallots and lingering taste of wasabi and finally with the crunchy puffed rice. This got me really excited for my meal to come.
3. Trumpet Fish w/ Cilantro Oil topped w/ a Cilantro Flower, a very mild in flavor helping lead up to the next (J thinks this had Jicama with it, but I thought it might be with #5)
4. King Salmon w/ Trout Roe, served on top of a crunchy pastry cracker bottom. Had something creamy that held down the salmon, tasted good, but wasn't anything standout, felt like a typical amuse.
5. Butterfish w/ Sake Gelee & Jicama (maybe, either this one or #3) - found the gelee to have a great flavor with a hint of wasabi or some spice.
6. ** Red Sea Perch topped w/ a Sesame Cracker "skin" on top, with a black vinegar sauce. LOVED the dish, the fish was perfectly cooked and the crunch on top made the entire bite awesome. Not to mention how much I loved the savory yet sweetness of the sauce it sat on, like a very complex type of teriyaki sauce. The girl sitting next to me said she wanted to lick her bowl (and might have).
7. **** Japanese Hokkaido Uni, Black Truffle on top of a round brioche, HANDS DOWN the best dish of the night. Everyone deserves to have a taste of this before they die. It's meant to be taken as a complete bite that melts in your mouth. The mild sweetness and taste of the sea from the uni plus the aroma of truffles just went on and on in your mouth, to the point that even after you finished eating it, the flavors lingers.
8. Oscietre Caviar - decadence on decadence is the first words that popped into my head. The caviar was served on top of a creamy sauce that sat on top of what seemed like a denser texture of an egg white chawanmushi.
9. Seared Kenmedai? - after the 3 awesome courses before this one, it was hard for me to pay attention to this dish and remember what this fish was called - believed it could have been the kenmedai. We found it not as memorable, but still perfectly cooked, and of course, delicious. Perfectly seared fish with a very crispy skin, delicious creamy foam and a pretty edible flower on top. Overheard conversation that this fish is usually never seared and usually eaten raw because it's a very expensive fish flown in from Japan.
10. Langoustine with Shitake Dashi Broth, Shitake Ravioli, and Line Caught Squid - as I mentioned, my undevained langoustine had a TON of sand in it, but the line caught squid was perfectly seared and had a great texture to it.
11. Black Cod, we saw the chefs smoking this fish on top of a smoker on the cook top, so that smokey flavor definitely came through. The fish sat on top of a rich creamy sauce that went along great with the fish. I cleaned up the sauce with our bread course (which, by the way wasn't that great, it might have even been just bought from the supermarket next door and reheated).
12. Lobster and Corn, this dish seems like it would be a perfect match: it's corn season, and I love how corn tastes with lobster. While the servings of this dish was actually pretty big, with notable chunks of lobster and the flavors of a creamy corn sauce with sweet kernals of corn that popped, there were some very distracting large pieces of greens on top - a mixture of herbs and greens. They served this without a knife, so I kept finding myself eating the greens and having sauce splash on my cheek, since the leaves were so big. Perhaps I'm a clumsy eater, but were those greens necessary and did he pick them strategically to flavor the dish? (Yes, at this point I'm nitpicking slightly)
13. A fish layered with Australian Black Summer Truffles, I wanted to smell this dish for days. The black summer truffles were noticeably more fragrant - different than the winter truffle we were served earlier as noted by our waitress. The cream sauce had tons of bits of black truffles at the bottom, which I gladly wiped up once again with the "meh" rolls.
14. Japanese Wagyu Beef w/ Farro salad, I knew that we were going to have one meat course with the rest being seafood, but I did not expect to be served Japanese Wagyu Beef. Right when I looked at the steak, it was perfectly cooked to a medium rare, with visible marbling of fat throughout the entire meat in a way I've just never seen before. You know what they say right, happy cows come from farms in Japan where they are massaged for hours and hours. I really enjoyed each bite of it, thought I did find my last bite was a TAD over-salted. The farro salad worked to off-balance some of the fattiness of the dish.
15. Cheese Course w/ walnut and balsamic & olive oil drizzle, served w/a cranberry bread. Nothing too exciting here for me.
16. Shiso Sorbet w/ Gold Flakes, I wasn't too impressed with the flavors of the shiso sorbet, and the gold flakes were just for show, obviously.
17. "Strawberry and Basil", a strawberry sorbet with a strawberry (looked like a raspberry to me, but J begs to differe), soaked in basil sauce so you get a bite full of basil taste.
18. Chocolate mousse dessert, the chocolate mousse was seared on the bottom to make it taste like a chocolate cake, in the middle had a raspberry cream filling. Great plating and was satisifed with the dessert. Since it was our anniversary, they gave us each a candle on our desserts to blow out, I thought this was a cute touch.
19. Petite fours, espresso and peanut butter chocolates. Both delicious, great way to end the night.
With all that's said and done, I do maintain that the food itself at Chef's Table is worth the price. Simply put, I've never had a tasting menu where I've been served two dishes with two types of truffles, uni (flown in from Japan no less, a rarity), caviar, lobster, langoustine (although it may be sandy), waygu beef, all for me to eat at no hidden costs or extra supplements.
While many have compared the current price of Brooklyn Fare vs Per Se after tax and tip as being very similar, Per Se will not serve you truffle or waygu beef without an extra charge. Because of this, I do stand my faith in Chef Ramirez, that he simply wants to put the best dishes and ingredients out to his guests. Even at the current price of the menu, I think they are barely turning profit given there's only so few people served during dinner every night. Flying in all these special ingredients from Japan is no easy feat, and neither is serving a tasting menu of 19 courses and having all of them cooked to perfection. They've nailed this down like a perfectly run show.
I left feeling perfectly satisfied, not overstuffed like I felt after Per Se or even Atera. I throughly enjoyed watching the chefs work their magic in putting together each dish for us.
Hope you enjoyed my recap of the meal, my dining partner and I worked hard at trying to remember everything that was served to us (despite obvious difficulty as we headed to the last wine pairings of the night). I also didn't want to make it sound like I was expecting to be best friends with Chef Ramirez at the end of the night, but I really do wish that he at least had treated us as he treated his other guests.
I'm happy to have tried this dining experience, but not quite sure if it's a completely 3 star experience.
Thanks for the review. You are a better person than I, if Chef Ramirez acted the way he did with you , and ignored my problem with a dish, I wouldn't have been so kind in reviewing his food. I also might have become a bit unruly.
Anyway, I don't think a place like that can ever really deserve 3 Michelin stars, due to lack of real 3 star service , and eating at a counter.
Yes there are 19 courses, but they are tiny courses.
Some ingredients are not as exotic as the chef might make it sound , Kinmadai or Golden eye snapper, is a nice looking fish with reddish orange skin and a huge golden eye. It is not very expensive, and most often, I have had this fish seared or steamed slightly for sushi , even in Japan.
Hokkaido uni is delicious and more expensive than California uni, but it is not as rare as you made it sound. And to take that uni and add truffle , brioche etc to it, I think takes away from a fantastic tasting uni.
I feel BF prices are very high, and if he had a surcharge people would be upset about that.
Anyway, thanks for the review.
And I thought my review from earlier in the year was thorough: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/884450
The service gaffe you experienced was completely inexcusable. I, like foodwhisperer, would not have let him off the hook so easily. I'm a little surprised he treated you that way as it was, as the last time I went with a cute Asian girl he was super chatty and friendly with her.
Regarding the experience as a whole, I'm still not sold on these tasting menus that are so packed full of expensive ingredients. I had the same reservations when discussing Masa. It may seem great if you can only have one meal like this every once in a long time, but otherwise it feels unnecessary.
For someone like foodwhisperer who eats out a lot, he knows, as I do, that you can get a lot of these ingredients done with more focus at other places. For example, Hokkaido uni and seared kinmedai regularly appear at 15 East http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/914900
Excellent recap though, and I do think our conclusions are similar. The general consensus seems to be that Cesar is an extremely talented cook. The word "chef" demands a lot more, and he really should partner with someone else to do FOH.