Fine Dining

The Grand Tier at Lincoln Center

Monday, February 28th, 2011 | Fine Dining, Restaurants | 1 Comment

Does life get any better (or convenient) than eating dinner in the concert hall right before seeing the show? The Grand Tier, in the Metropolitan Opera House, has the pre-theater formula down pat. Make a reservation for 6pm, dine in relative ease for the first hour and a half, then see how the vibe of the restaurant changes as the crowd starts pouring in and the 8pm curtain time draws near. Ladies scamper to wait on long bathroom lines; your waiter, in his haste to quickly jot down your dessert order and move on to the next table, accidentally drops his pen in your lap; and all of a sudden, that big pot of tea and second glass of wine don’t sound like such good ideas anymore. But the food is excellent and most of the desserts, divine. Regard:

The Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache Tart with caramel crema, chocolate mousse, and huckleberry jam was heavy and decadent, just like it sounds. It was like eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a candy bar at once. Sadly, because of its richness, this one will be the first one to get left behind as the bells genteelly call you to your seat. Since wasting a perfectly good dessert because of a silly thing like time is a sin to me, I wrapped our two leftover bits in an ancient purse Kleenex. This necessitated a good bit of industrious Kleenex removal with my digits when we went to eat them the next day, but we prevailed!

The Key Lime Parfait with spicebread crumble, key lime curd, and compressed pineapples wasn’t quite as delicious. The “spicebread” tasted like cheap ground-up Graham crackers and I couldn’t figure out why the white cream on top had l’air de Cool Whip. But the key lime curd was solid and I’d never heard of “compressed” fruit before. This apparently is a technique that utilizes a vacuum sealer and liquid to infuse the fruit with its own cooked juices and sometimes an external flavor like vanilla, kind of like sous-vide.

The Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée with black sesame seed and coconut macaroons was wonderful.  The tangy fruit and nutty seed flavors worked perfectly in the custard, and the macaroons were a delightful little cookie bonus for added texture.

I might have gotten the old-school-sounding Chocolate Soufflé, but since it requires serving just after it’s baked and therefore requires planning, it was only available at intermission. How do you scarf down your dessert in 15 minutes and use the facilities? Well, my boyfriend’s dad informed me that the system works quite well, actually. You place your dessert order, then come back to your table at intermission, where your dessert will be magically waiting for you. If you have time for the toilet afterward, then you can give yourself a gold star.

Grand Tier
150 W. 65th St
New York, NY 10184
(212) 799-3400

WD-50 – A Dessert Blogger’s Paradise

Friday, October 16th, 2009 | Fine Dining, Restaurants | 2 Comments

At the suggestion of Pastry Chef Chavigny of Daniel and a generous birthday gift from my brother, the next stop on my explorations was WD-50, a restaurant known for its use of weirdo ingredients and au courant culinary tools like liquid nitrogen (for flash freezing), hydrocolloids (or various “gums” for changing the consistencies of liquids), and dehydrators.  Leading the charge in the pastry kitchen is Chef Alex Stupak, formerly of Alinea in Chicago, another major player in the world of cutting-edge cookery.

For just $38, you can get your own 3-course dessert tasting.  Since I was with a friend, I asked our waiter whether Chef Stupak would condescend to give us 3 different desserts each, so that we could try a total of 6.  We waited on tenterhooks for him to return from the kitchen with the verdict… which was Yes– huzzah!

Every plate was like a playground for the senses and also a puzzle… for my mind.  I hardly knew where to start with each one.  Some dishes had delicious elements all around– you could enjoy each one alone, or combine them with others.  Other dishes were truly deconstructed desserts, where each element alone tasted either bland or downright nasty, but when combined with others created a perfect balance of sweet, bitter, salty, etc.  Here are some observations, which you should follow along with the fine pics above, as this can get a mite complicated.

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Daniel – The Inaugural Post

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009 | Fine Dining, Restaurants | 2 Comments

What better way to kick-off a dessert blog than to go to one of the best restaurants in all of NYC– Daniel?  I didn’t know it was even possible to make a reservation for dessert only, since there’s no way I could afford to eat there, but Daniel is very accommodating and lets you sit in the Lounge.  We decided to eat dinner in the form of sandwiches from Defonte’s new Manhattan outpost, and, enjoying the marked contrast, we sat down to dine in luxury.  The desserts were delish, and we had a wonderfully unexpected adventure afterwards that made me conclude I may be on-track with this whole food blogging thing.
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