Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My birthday dinner at Daniel

Daniel: ExteriorTo celebrate my birthday, my husband took me for a surprise dinner at Daniel. It's been a while since we first vowed to dine at Daniel Boulud's flagship restaurant and finally the time was here, so I was very excited. As soon as we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by a hostess who took our name and then led us to our table. At that time the restaurant was quite empty since they just opened, however it filled up fairly quickly as the night progressed.


Daniel: InteriorThe interior had Venetian Renaissance style decor, elegant, and beautiful. It was dimly lit, made the atmosphere more romantic, although personally speaking they could be a little brighter. The tables were covered by white cloths, they had fresh flowers and candles on top. We noticed that the napkin and the table cloth both had chef Daniel Boulud's initial, very nice.

Then came our captain who brought us the menu, followed by one server who brought a purse stool. The menu offered 3-course prix fixe, daily specials and 6-course seasonal tasting menu. We chose the tasting menu so that we could have the whole dining experience. I ordered a non-alcoholic drink called palm beach, a mixture of raspberry puree, pineapple puree, orange juice and mint -- very refreshing.

Daniel: Palm beach
Palm beach


Dinner started with a two-tiered tray of canapés:
- Crisp parmesan basket with goat cheese and pine nut: crispy and creamy
- Asparagus quiche: melt in your mouth
- Heart of palm puree: very smooth
- BBQ eel with soybean puree: tender and tasty

Daniel: Amuse bouche (another view)
Canapés. Top: Crisp parmesan basket and Asparagus quiche. Bottom: Heart of palm puree and BBQ eel with soybean puree.


It was followed by the bread service, I chose sweet garlic focaccia and mini French baguette, while my husband chose olive & rosemary roll and French roll. All of them was very good, I like the focaccia the most.

Daniel: Basket of bread (another view)
Basket of bread


The first course came very fast, we didn't even have a chance to nibble on the bread yet. We noticed that there were as many servers as guests on a table coming and serving the dish in unison. My husband picked rabbit porchetta with spring vegetables, Orleans mustard cream, frisee and chive oil, served with toasted French baguette. It was flavorful and tasty, the variety of vegetables added complementary texture to the rabbit porchetta.

Daniel: Rabbit porchetta with spring vegetables (closer up)
Rabbit porchetta with spring vegetables


Mine was pistachio crusted duck foie gras terrine with poached rhubarb and lillet gelee, served with toasted crustless brioche. It was wonderful, the foie gras was smooth and the sweetness of rhubarb complimented well, but unfortunately the brioche was not warm (I think Per Se spoiled me for life on this one).

Daniel: Pistachio crusted duck foie gras terrine - Canon S5 (another view)
Pistachio crusted duck foie gras terrine


For the second course, my husband had trio of sea scallops which were ceviche with wellfeet oyster and uni, tartar with caviar d'aquitaine, sashimi with yuzu. I'm not a raw food fan, so this dish was not my favorite. I let my husband finished them, he said that they were delicious and not fishy at all.

Daniel: Trio of sea scallops
Trio of sea scallops. Clockwise from top left: Sashimi with yuzu, Ceviche with wellfeet oyster and uni, Tartar with caviar d'aquitaine.


I had Maryland jumbo lump crab with sorrento lemon, Boston lettuce and minted yogurt-cucumber gazpacho. It was excellent, the lettuce added crunchness and the gazpacho added refreshness to the dish.

Daniel: Maryland jumbo lump crab with sorrento lemon - Canon S5
Maryland jumbo lump crab with sorrento lemon


Next came fennel basil ravioli with littleneck clam emulsion, Baja shrimp, cuttlefish, broccoli rabe and chorizo for my husband. It was fantastic, the ravioli was cooked al dente and the emulsion was rich, so yummy!

Daniel: Fennel basil ravioli with littleneck clam emulsion (close up)
Fennel basil ravioli with littleneck clam emulsion


For me, I chose kataifi wrapped langoustines with florida corn, crispy pork belly, kale and bacon jus. It was incredible, the langoustine was tender and crunchy from the kataifi, the pork belly was moist, the bacon jus was not too salty, perfect with the sweetness of the corn.

Daniel: Kataifi wrapped langoustines with florida corn - Canon S5 (close up)
Kataifi wrapped langoustines with florida corn


For the fish course, my husband picked the flaked Atlantic cod with morels, crushed fingerlings, pickled ramps and green peppercorn which was fabulous. The cod was soft and went hand in hand with the sauce, it was simpler than the other dishes yet delicate.

Daniel: Flaked atlantic cod with morels
Flaked atlantic cod with morels


I picked crispy red king salmon with parsley, mousserons, wild asparagus and pee wee potato tempura. It was good, the salmon was firm yet tender, the sauce was tasty and the asparagus added some nice texture to it.

Daniel: Crispy red king salmon with parsley (close up)
Crispy red king salmon with parsley


Then came the signature dish which was duo of dry aged beef -- red wine braised short ribs with shallot confit, seared rib eye with spinach subric and sauteed porcinis. The presentation was detail-oriented, the taste was awesome -- the meat was very tender and cooked perfectly, the sauce was amazing.

Daniel: Duo of dry aged beef (close up) Daniel: Duo of dry aged beef (close up)
Duo of dry aged beef



My dish was Elysian fields farm lamb chop and tenderloin with anchovy stuffed bulb onions, English peas and sage jus. It was fabulous, the meat was juicy and the sauce was rich. My stomach was starting to get full, so I asked my husband to help me finish it since I planned to save room for desserts :-)

Daniel: Elysian fields farm lamb chop and tenderloin - Canon S5
Elysian fields farm lamb chop and tenderloin


We received couple of complimentary desserts that were plated elegantly, side by side with the ones from the tasting menu. In addition to these, I also got a "birthday cake", I guessed my husband told them that it was my birthday. Then came the famous madeleines in a bowl covered with white linen, followed by the mignardises. They were very generous and all came together at the same time, so our table was covered with desserts feast, I love it! :-)

The first dessert was bittersweet chocolate praline cremeux with Amer cocoa sponge cake, caraibe ice cream (from the tasting menu) and raspberry lemon vacherin with Thai basil, meringue, raspberry marshmallows (the complimentary). The chocolate praline dessert was divine, it was very rich, creamy, chocolate-y. The raspberry dessert was excellent -- soft and very light.

Daniel: Bittersweet chocolate praline cremeux Daniel: Raspberry lemon vacherin with Thai basil
Bittersweet chocolate praline cremeux and Raspberry lemon vacherin with Thai basil


The second dessert was chocolate biscuit with Kirsch diplomat, roasted cherries, Kriek beer sorbet (the complimentary) and tasting of mango with roasted sesame, ginger marinated, coulis with cilantro, sorbet with kalamansi (from the tasting menu). The Kirsch dessert was enjoyable -- creamy and sweet. The mango was extraordinary, it was refreshing, nutty, crunchy, sweet yet tart, so yummy!

Daniel: Chocolate biscuit with kirsch diplomat (another view) Daniel: Tasting of mango with roasted sesame
Chocolate biscuit with kirsch diplomat and Tasting of mango with roasted sesame


For my "birthday cake", they gave me chocolate brownie with mascarpone cream, crispy feuilletine, Ethiopian coffee ice cream. The brownie was moist, the mascarpone was smooth, the feuilletine was crunchy, the ice cream was rich, just delightful.

Daniel: Chocolate brownie with mascarpone cream (close up)
Chocolate brownie with mascarpone cream


The warm, fluffy, moist and tender madeleines were incredible, the mignardises were very good and flavorful. They were definitely a perfect ending for a fabulous culinary experience.

Daniel: Madeleines (closer up) Daniel: Petits fours - Canon S5
Madeleines and Petits fours


We had an unforgettable night, the food was spectacular and impressive, it definitely lived up to our high expectations. Although the service was good, the staff was a little bit uptight and stuffy, not as friendly as the staff at Per Se. They were also not that attentive, we had to look for and call them when we needed something. However it was all forgiven once our stomachs were screaming for joy :-) I must say that the sauces at Daniel were amazing -- flavorful and rich. Thank you honey for the fabulous dinner, you have chosen the perfect place to celebrate my birthday, I cannot wait to go back again.

**********

Daniel
60 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065
(212) 288-0033
http://danielnyc.com/daniel/

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