Uptown by cab to Daniel Restaurant, said to be one of the best restaurants in the world. The cab ride was intense, racing up 8th Avenue to Central Park and then crossing through the park on 65th Street. Because the consequences of patience may include missing several rotations of the green light, the cabbies turn the roads and intersections into Nascar fat-tracks where cars squeeze together in groups of four or more. I have faith in the cabbie - as Carlos Castaneda wrote it's a case of "having to believe", as in "I have to believe the chef washed his hands".
I'm pretty confident that the chefs at Daniel wash their hands. It's a very swish, art deco theme restaurant with staff falling over themselves - three greeters for example. On the walls are paper collages that are original art and the tables are well appointed with starched linen and antique-style silver cutlery. We were seated at a round table with N and W seating, the better to share the tasting plates and speculate about the other patrons.
We went for the 6-course tasting plates - presented as a choice of 12, we decided to go with all the alternates so as to try everything. This generally involved eating 2/3rds of a plate and tasting a sample of the other, so we swapped plates a bit. Generally the matched wines were the same. The other tasting plate option was eight courses and wines chosen by the chef, which seemed to stray into excess and potluck.
The bread board wasn't very interesting, but the rolls were nice - a multigrain roll and a cheesy one were tasty with the home-blended butter.
No food porn photos - the restaurant explicitly forbids photography and the snootiness is turned up to eleven.
This is what we ate:
SIX COURSE TASTING MENU
DUCK TERRINE WITH BASIL POACHED FROG HOLLOW FARM PEACH
Green Almond, Celery, Wood Sorrel
MOSAÏC OF QUAIL WITH PICKLED HON SHIMEJI
Muscat Grapes, Sherry Gelée, Purple Watercress Salad
Young Vegetables, Mustard Cream
Vollenweider, Riesling Kabinett “Goldgrube”, Mosel 2010
(The Riesling was spectacular; I who dislike white wines liked it very much).
SHIMAAJI “AU VIN BLANC”
Poached with Riesling and Celery Mustard Salad
Lightly Smoked Rillette with Green Asparagus
Tartare with Northern Lights Caviar
TRIO OF HAMACHI
Beet Cured with Chive Oil
Tartare with Wasabi and Northern Lights Caviar
Confit with Sorrel Coulis and Yellow Beet
Domaine Bailly Sancerre “Cuvée Chavignol”, Loire Valley 2012
BUTTER POACHED JADE TIGER ABALONE WITH SEA BUCKTHORN
Sake “Beurre Blanc”, Braised Escarole, Short Grain Rice Croquette
SWISS CHARD AND CLOUMAGE RAVIOLI
Oregon Porcini, Twig Farm Fuzzy Wheel Cheese
Lomo Iberico, Savagnin-Melilot Sauce
Jean-Louis Chave, “Céleste”, Saint-Joseph, Rhône 2010
CANTIMPALO CHORIZO WRAPPED MONKFISH STUFFED WITH LOBSTER
Wild Black Rice, Yogurt Braised Eggplant, Creeping Jenny Flower
OVEN BAKED BLACK SEA BASS WITH SYRAH SAUCE
Oregano-Zucchini Millefeuille and Tempura
Cipollini Onion Marmalade, Green Peppercorn-Potato Duchesse
Copain, Pinot Noir “Tous Ensemble”,
Anderson Valley, California 2010
TRIO OF MILK FED VEAL
Roasted Tenderloin with White and Green Asparagus
Braised Cheeks with Hen of the Woods Mushroom
Sweetbreads with Grilled Spring Onion and Piquillo
DUO OF BEEF
Braised Black Angus Short Ribs
Horseradish-Cauliflower Purée, Hen of the Wood, Broccoli
Seared Wagyu Tenderloin, Crispy Potato, Smoked Beef Tongue
Château Robin Côtes-de-Castillon, Bordeaux 2009
Guava Gel, Mango-Vanilla Swirl, Meringue
Château Pajzos 5 Puttonyos Aszú, Tokaji 2003
WARM GUANAJA CHOCOLATE COULANT
Liquid Caramel, Fleur de Sel, Milk Sorbet
Domaine de Rancy Rivesaltes Ambré, Roussillon 1996
Coffee and petit fours were fine, without being dazzling. On the whole I preferred the food and wine at Bouley, notwithstanding that Daniel is more highly rated and a bit pricier.
Speaking of which, at the cab door the waiter remarked more in sorrow than anger that I'd under-tipped and had made him worried that our experience had been deficient. I'll take a hint from Richard Grant (*) and tip a bit more heavily in future. Sorry, Vladimir.
(*) What about tipping? "I always tip because I was a waiter in Covent Garden and I know that's what a waiter relies on, and unless the service has really been pants, I feel duty-bound to over-tip, or to tip generously."