Scores: 3 M*/ 3 NYT
After a day of walking 10 miles around lower Manhattan I was pretty hungry and thankfully we had reservations at a restaurant which hopefully could restore those burnt calories. Daniel is the flagship 3 Michelin starred restaurant from Daniel Boulud a chef who owns many restaurants in New York and elsewhere including Bar Boulud in London (see review). It is located on the Upper East Side and has a long reputation of being frequented by NYC’s great and good. This was my first visit to the restaurant as in the past I have been slightly put off by the old school reputation – jackets required, ties advised etc. On this visit to NYC I decided that i should finally give it a try so I donned some chinos, suit and jacket (no tie!) and off we went. On the night of our visit the restaurant was packed, it seemingly turned over every table. The crowd had a younger average age than I expected with people of most ages present. The dining room looked very elegant; it reminded me a bit of Aspleys in London. I had read that the service here may be sub-par if one is not a regular or known to them but I found it to be very polished yet still friendly. Our female sommelier was very good and helped recommend a very good white burgundy, within budget, from the pretty aggressively priced wine list. We declined the tasting menu, but it was an interesting concept having a course of two dishes for each of the 6 courses, instead opting for the 3 courses prix at $116. The food is modern French with American influences and the odd Asian ingredient.
A plate of three canapés arrived first, a tasting of sweet potato- one bit was served with raw yellowtail, one with pork and some as a soup, these were all very good, as was amuse-bouche.
A starter of herb cured Alaskan red king salmon with Chartreuse Gelée, Smoked Fingerling Potato, Red Ribbon Sorrel was a good dish, the fish was cooked very well on the rare side and the herbs gave a good flavour. Barely cooked Scottish langoustines, Japanese Eggplant, Matsutake-Mâche Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts was also a very good starter. The prawns were indeed barely cooked and thus had a very soft texture and a fresh taste; they were obviously of a very high quality. The mushroom and aubergine salad was also surprisingly a good accompaniment. I was slightly sceptical when I first saw this dish hit the table but it worked.
A main course of tuna two ways- Grilled Loin with Celery Root, Shaved Bottarga Belly “à la Plancha”, Shallot Marmalade with Crispy Wild Rice was decent but not great. The two pieces of grilled loin were grilled to perfection, being fairly rare but still having a great slightly charred taste. On the other hand I found the belly to be slightly over done although there was no doubt that this was very good quality fish (perhaps I just prefer tuna sushi). The salty taste from the bottarga was a nice addition; however, I was not a big fan of the crispy rice. The best dish of the night was the duo of beef- Braised Black Angus Short Ribs with Chestnut Purée, Pioppini Mushroom and Caramelized Endive/ Seared Wagyu Tenderloin, Glazed Parsley Root with Bordelaise Sauce (Supplement $14). Both the rib and tenderloin were excellently cooked and seasoned and the other elements were great. This was a top notch dish that I believe has featured on the menu for a while.
Desserts here also turned out to be a strong point. Molasses poached pear,Lime-Pain de Gênes, Cranberry Confit and Pear-Gewurztraminer Sorbet had a good flavoured and textured pear along with pieces of sponge all cut into cylindrical shapes. The sorbet here was very good as well. Orchidea vacherin- Calamansi Meringue Chips, Vanilla Chantilly, Madagascar Sorbet and Fruits coulis was a fairly light, refreshing dessert consisting of meringue with an orangey sorbet. It was a good way of ending a fairly rich meal. They also gave us a third dessert to share which was an almond chocolate torte like dessert which was also very nice and although very welcome it was probably not needed!
A nice selection of Petite fours followed with the coffees, these were then added to with the arrival of some madeleines served straight from the oven. Finally we were offered some individual chocolates from a selection of four types.
This was a very good meal, some of the dishes were top class, while some were just very good- the service and general atmosphere were also very pleasant. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a very solid fine dining experience in NYC; however, do not expect the food to be as memorable as at somewhere like EMP.