Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saturday Vegas 3: Mon Ami, Milos, Fleur, Bartolotta & Bar Masa again

“Steam billows, and the teapot, fragrant. I enter a state of desires diminishing within the stillness of further pleasure. Nothing course, or superficial. This is drinking tea.”

The Minister of Leaves from the mint tea I’m savouring at Mon Ami Gabi for breakfast again. Organic Mint Fields, it’s called, from The Republic of Tea. No Chamomile today but no problem. I’m actually able to drink it with no sweetener, something normally only possible for me with Jasmine tea.

Had a craving last night for ginger beer. I’m sure that’s in anticipation of the candied ginger that goes with the grapefruit here, along with mint leaves.

Now at Milos for the 2nd time. This time with no lunch reservation but it’s not a problem. The server actually thanks me for patronizing the place twice this week. I order the same thing, only this time instead of tea, a wine pairing, a cheap Greek wine Anna the server recommends when I order the Lavraki. She also tells me it’s the main dish at Milos. Not eating it here would be like going to Ivars House of Clams and not having the clam chowder. Anna also insists I dip a piece of bread in the olive oil at the bottom of the salad. It is unearthly good. Fish as good as it was on Tuesday.

If Mt. San Michel is called The Wonder of the West, so is this Lavraki. After I have the fruit plate, Anna tells me I should have had the walnut cake because it’s made with gum from trees that grow only on one specific Greek island and thus have a unique flavour. Lunch was already a profound experience.

In the nearby Chandelier Bar. Decide to have a cocktail before leaving City Centre. I’d read about a drink called The Sage 75 which I see on the menu. When I order it, I’m told the bar is out of sage. I had the French 75 at L’Atelier, the little cocktail that could on Monday night, because the Sage 75 was based on it, and now I’m not getting the beverage I had been anticipating. Instead, I order a Lime in the Coconut. Thankfully Harry Neilson remains dead. Hangar 1 Kaffir Lime, Crème de Cacao, Coconut cream. The drink gets more subtle as it goes along. Never overwhelmingly coconut of lime, but pleasantly blended. I have been craving coconut of late, because every time I enter the Excalibur, I smell the coconut liqueur Malibu. Must be a popular hotel drink. Coconuts are forever tied to King Arthur because of the Monty Python sketch from Holy Grail. Hope I don’t get carried away by an African sparrow.

Later I walk the considerable distance from The Excalibur to The Wynn for my reservation at its seafood palace, Bartolotta de la Mare. Will the fish be as good as Milos, I wonder? A decent cocktail and a vast langostine appear before me. Apparently I have to wrest the meat from it myself. A mess is soon made. The fish is sold by the 100 grams, but sometimes they have the course on the menu, and sometimes not. I end up with Gilt-head sea bream, new to me, in a very mild sauce. Stress the word “very.” As always on this trip, some excellent vegetables accompany the fish. A good meal overall, but not one worth walking 7 miles for. On my way back, I stop in at Bar Masa to see if the Maitaki are as good as 3 days ago. Nope. But I’ll be back in Vegas one of these days, and I’ll have them again.

Fleur for me was a welcoming place, a home away from home. The red sangria reminded me what I drink at home. Fleur’s sangria could have used an additional straining but it was better than I’m used to and the best I had in Vegas. In a service industry town, Fleur’s service was a step above everyone else, perhaps because I was a regular. When the gnocchi, my favourite item, disappeared from the menu I received a detailed explanation for its absence, first from my server Faryal, then Chef Keller, then the General Manager David Oseas who gave me the good news that they were planning to bring it back. My server Jill informed me that she was leaving Vegas after 10 years here, and going back to Florida. “These people at Fleur are like a family to me,” she said and I felt that as well. David told me about a TV show called The Big Time that would spotlight Fleur and a week later, I see the show. It’s all about chefs competing – not a format I would pay any attention to if it weren’t set at Fleur. Chef Keller is as mellow as ever, even when he’s evicting contestants. The most unsettling thing about the show for me was those wonderful chairs and hallways I found such great relaxation in were the site of conflict and tension- the opposite of my Fleur experience.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friday Vegas 3: Eiffel Tower, Michael Mina, Guy Savoy

After breakfasting at the hotel, I walk over to the mini-eiffel tower for lunch at the same place I've only dined at before, Paris's most famous monument.
Great view of the Bellagio as usual, though not as pretty in the daytime as at night. Still, some good reflections off the Cosmopolitan and Aria. I’m served an amuse bouche which tastes a lot like butter, although very good butter. The tea is superb, maybe the best tea I’ve had this trip. Paris black tea with fruit and caramel. Subtle, seductive and inviting. Something about the music. It sounds a lot like George Benson kind of cool commercial jazz. As I eat this crepe, I’m close to bursting into tears. It’s not the magic of the Twist experience but it is very intense. My third taste of the vegetarian crepe which I do love. There is a hint of sadness, but more, a strong feeling of love that floods me as I eat the crepe and drink the tea. Maybe the music is playing a part in manipulating my emotions here and they’re always easy to manipulate around lunch time. Triggers in my brain I have to look into.

At Michael Mina,
at the Bellagio for dinner,I promptly order the
truffled. chicken, which I’ve been lusting after from the online menu and reviews. To drink, I said, "make me a cocktail that goes with the chicken.” The sommelier rose to the challenge and came up with a serious drink. The chicken arrives and I don’t taste the truffles nor the sunchoke but the savoy cabbage, a vegetable I love but eat rarely, pours through the density of other tastes like Patton’s army pouring through the German lines. The cocktail made especially for my pairing, a drink of scotch (totally unknown to me) and a wine called Barolo ("Barolo wine is democratic, or at least it can become so," the slogan of the Libera e benemerita associazione degli amici del Barolo, a precursor to the Slow Food movement) and serious twist of lemon- tastes like medicine on first sip, but when combined with the cabbage, it goes wonderfully well. The sommelier knew what he was doing when he made this drink. The cabbage flashes me back to my Eastern European roots, the wonderful cabbage I ate with my relatives in Saskatchewan. Rice and cabbage with my Ukranian relatives, meat and cabbage with the Germans. Both totally satisfying.
The cocktail began as very medicinal. It worked well with the chicken, after tapping into its marriage with the cabbage. Now, after I’m finished and very full, I’m starting to taste the lemon, and it’s become quite drinkable. My server, a Brazilian guy and cabbage lover, said my drink now works as a digestive. I can feel that too, and I’m going to need a bit of digestive assistance. The cocktail reminds me of some drink I had in Japan, I don’t remember what it was. This is better.
In the grand lobby of Bellagio, I am transported to entering a hotel in NYC in 1964. Don’t think I’ve thought of that before. Maybe seeing kids the same age as I was then, coming into a big city hotel at night, though that hotel was far inferior to the Bellagio, I wouldn’t have appreciated the difference then. I was impressed then. I am impressed again.

At 8:00, over at Caesar's Palace again, I’m led into the dining room where I dined at Guy Savoy last year at this time. The tall waiter remembers I don’t eat avocado. I’m amazed at his memory. I ask about the chestnut dish and am told it’s the wrong season. I say I’m only at Guy Savoy for small portions, so I’m shifted to the Krug room where bubbles and bites are on the menu, not big meals. From the more appropriate menu, I order lobster in cold steam, as well as a mosaic of Poularde which I’m informed is a small chicken, artichoke, fois and black truffle jus. Let’s see if I can finally get a good truffle from somewhere else than Bar Masa. As an amuse, I get a bite of black pepper waffle which is stunningly good. My soup course turns out to be tarragon foam, carrot and lobster essence. The carrot is powerful but doesn’t overpower the other ingredients, thankfully. The tarragon foam is as good as any of the foams at e, which is high praise. The cubes aren’t up to the vodka gelee at Le Cirque or Jose’s cubes, but still quite tasty. An outstanding small meal, along with service by Ilona who I thought stayed at the front desk, but instead served me my superb bites. I compared Guy Savoy's small bites favourably with Jose Andres and she remarked on eating at The Bazaar in LA and Jaleo when it opened here last Jan. Jose has a lot going for him, but Guy's the guy. I told her I was astonished that she’d remembered me when I met her at Uncork’d last May, from my appearance here in Feb. She told me she has a good memory. Her memory matches the quality of this restaurant. It’s hard to believe anything could so consistently taste this good. Hope the customs lady finds out for herself.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday, Vegas 3: RM Seafood, Bar Masa, Twist

Breakfasting at Mon Ami Gabi with a Scientific American I picked up the previous day at the “bookstore” at Cyrstals. Title article is The Quantum Universe: Could foamlike fluctuations rule spacetime at the tiniest scale? Seems to go perfectly with all the foam I had last night at E. No chamomile at Gabi today, instead I go for the ginger peach- should be well paired with my ginger topped grapefruit. I was fantasizing drinking ginger beer last night, maybe from one of the drinks but certainly in anticipation of this breakfast. The pairing of the candy and the tea are worthy of Jose Andres last night. Reading the article, “information, not matter and energy, constitutes the most basic unit of existence,” reminds me of my experience with the prawns at Mix last Feb, in the sense that love is information.
As I’m eating, the mag in front of me on the table, my server asks me if I’m a scientist. On the periphery of science. A writer. Where you from? Vancouver. You a student? No, a teacher (OK, past tense- I was a teacher longer than I was a student). Do I look like a student, I don’t ask? Must be the hair. It may be white, but it sure is funny looking- though students these days tend to be much straighter looking than in my days.

At Rick Moonen’s place. Really wanted to have that Moonen Doggie John Curtas raved about. But it’s off the menu for tweeking. Maybe I never will get to eat one. ELV recommended the Evening Walk cocktail. The catfish sloppy joe has been recommended so I order that and the waiter talks me into ordering the crab cake. Curtas was right about the Evening Walk being an adult cocktail: Tanqueray Rangpoor, Zirbenz pine liqueur, Cochi Americano, Rosemary twig. Very intricate, subtle, evolving and never overpowered by the rosemary swig I had my doubts about. The same herb was involved with the drink at Hastings House I was drinking when the quest idea first came to me- and that wasn’t even a good cocktail. This drink takes awhile for the rosemary to kick in and when it does, it blends perfectly with the pine liqueur, adding a new rung of pleasure to the vast goodness of the crab and holding its own against the bbq’d intensity of the sloppy catfish. It adds a sort of intellectual texture to the dishes – more for my brain to do as I’m eating. This level of complexity is what I was expecting but didn’t get too often from E last night. That was more an assault of food. I'd watched an interview with the chef on Al Mancini's webcast Top of the Food Chain and looked forward to talking with Anthony Fusco about sustainable seafood, but he had moved to Texas. Perhaps I'll be able to get in touch with Rick Moonen his sustainable self. The sustainable seafood crusade undertaken by Vancouver's aquarium has affected sea food restaurants and even big chain grocery stores throughout this city. Why not Vegas as well? Perhaps Moonen will know.

Bar Masa
As Mix took its great King Prawns off the menu (still on web menu, most duplicitously), I went over to Bar Masa at the Aria where I had been eyeing the Maitaki Mushrooms with truffles on the web menu since preparations for this trip began. I discussed liquid pairings with my bartender Susan who recommended a Japanese beer I’d never heard of, Hitachino Nest, aged in cedar casks. First I think it’s from a prefecture I’ve never heard of, but upon examining the bottle, I find it’s from Ibaraki, not at all distant from Chiba where I lived most of my life in Nihon. The more I drink of this beer, the better it gets and it does indeed blend perfectly with the mushrooms with serious truffles, the first meal I’ve had in Vegas where I can really taste the truffles and enjoy them accordingly. The beer just keeps on getting better and better, more a winter beer, a season they don’t really have here. The maitaki remind me of the great mushroom dish I had at Charlie Trotters in 2008, the highest compliment I can pay any dish.


At the bar across from Twist. This may indeed be the best bar view in Vegas. As I walk in , the band is playing All Blues, as enjoyable a tune as the view and the eats and drinks, which is saying a lot. A few minutes before, when I left neighbouring Bar Masa, I heard a familiar Vince Guaraldi tune. A little girl in the lobby said, “Charlie Brown,” in familiarity with the song, whose name escapes me but it is from those TV shows. Couldn’t have asked for a better tune to go with the divine Maitaki. I see a woman at the piano with a tip jar. Hopefully, Guaraldi lovers filled the jar. I’m too early to go into Twist so I finally try out its bar on the other side of the elevators from Twist. They tell me they have the same cocktails as Twist but I go for an Unusual Negroni to get me into the citrus mood for the citrusy seafood to come.
When I finally escape the exquisite view and head into Twist, I am surprised to be remembered and get a great table, and the same waiter I had last year, whose fiancée works at e where I had dined the night before. In a biography of Fernan Adria I read recently, it was written that Fernan was inspired to his particular path of culinary adventure by dining at one of Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurants in France.

"Gagnaire's menu at the time was aggressively idiosyncratic, offering such dishes as lobster cream with melon juice, pigeon chutney, and crispy crepes and hyssop-flavoured young rabbit and rabbit kidney with tripe, sweetbreads cooked with garlic confit and spicy pepper sauce. Ferran says that it was, by sampling creations like these, that he first realized just how far it was possible for a chef to go."
Ferran, by Colman Andrews.

Even though Andres is not Adria, it’s easy to see the influences in flow here. Thankfully they still have the passion fruit cocktail I so enjoyed on my previous two trips and good as those drinks were, tonight’s is the best yet. I order two. Food is hit and miss, the usual for Gagnaire. After a torrent of amuse bouches, I order the scallops 3 ways from the appetizer menu.

Oven baked Scallop Tart, Scented with Curcuma, Grapefruit Honey Fondue
Grilled Scallop, Served on Artichoke Cream, Red Port Syrup
Scallop Mousseline with Lime, Celery Salad & Paris Mushrooms

They remind me of Akira Back’s raw scallops from his contest with Martin Heirling at the Uncork’d event I attended last May, though these are cooked. I was least satisfied with the grapefruit scallops, though grapefruit is the fruit my body has the greatest craving for. The lime didn’t make itself known in the moussaline as much as I’d expected. Still, a fine meal with once again, a perfect beverage.
I asked my friend Doc Technical to photo shop an image of a drop of water on a seat at Twist, an illustration of the experience I had at Twist last Feb. Here’s what he came up with.

Wednesday Vegas 3: Bouchon, Serrano again, E

Wednesday begins with cab ride to The Venetian for breakfast grapefruit and tea at Bouchon. Tea not as good as before but grapefruit is still fantastic.
Worth $11 cab ride to go to the only non-union hotel on the strip and give more money to Sheldon Adelson to give to his pal Newt Gingritch? It has to be really good grapefruit to warrant that.
The lunch tapas at Julian Serrano’s were much more successful than the lobster disaster from Monday night. Actually damaged my legs with the 3 mile walk from the Venetian back to the Excalibur so never lifted weights but recovered enough to walk over to the Aria for Julian’s scallop and stuffed pepper plus cava.
Finally, at 5:15 I’m at Jose Andres' micro-restaurant e 15 minutes early, as the reservation commands. I choose the mocktail pairing but have a gin tonic from the bar while waiting to go into e. Synchronistically, the gin tonic I had at the bar, inspired by the taunt “the best gin tonic you’ll ever have” on the Ipad drink menu, turns into the perfect preface to my first e course: a gin tonic turned into foam. Same drink, different texture. The room is full of library files from which oddities appear and are expected. Thereafter, we are assaulted with a box of rings (Beet jewelry), carmelized pork rinds which don’t appeal and Spanish “clavel” which is equally forgettable. We even get delicacies on copies of Jose's hands. I don’t remember the apple Brazo de Gitano at all, nor the Nitro Almond Cup, too slight a meal to trigger memory, Not the Crispy Chicken Skin in Escabeche. I had no idea chicken skin was edible, any more than I knew fish skin was edible before my meal at Guy Savoy last Feb. This was probably the best dish. I was stunned. Equally stunned by the intensity of the Jose Taco, caviar wrapped in ham. It was an explosion of the mouth. The following Oliva Seerica Ferran Adria brought the genius of El Bulli into the hungry mouths of Vegas, followed shortly with a Cava Sangria sphere, equally as entertaining. Unfortunately, between the spheres of liquid pleasure was what was described as Madrid street food, a Bocata De “Calamares,” which instead of the squid taste I always admire, the assault of sea urchin deprived me of any pleasure and painfully occupied space in my stomach I would have preferred to fill with far better food. I could have told the restaurant I don’t eat sea urchin, but hoped that Jose could come up with an edible sea urchin course just as Archatz did with previously inedible oysters at his Alinea. I was getting to the point that eating more food was increasingly difficult, so wasted stomach space was a particular problem. The last dish I could actually finish was the Artichoke “Puree” with Vanilla. The following Lobster with Citrus and Jasmine was delicious but no longer within my realm of consumption. Alas. The chickpea stew with Jamon Iberico ham was easily abandoned and the turbot with bone marrow was, like Le Cirque’s turbot, not nearly as good as the turbot at Picasso. The Rosemary Wild Mushrooms in Papillote was pretty good, but the Secreto of Iberico Pork with Squid was one of the highlights. Finally pork as good as I’m used to from the great Tonkatsu restaurants of Tokyo. That was a week ago, and I can still taste that great pork in my memory. Thereafter, 7 deserts. Maybe people who enjoy sweets would have enjoyed them. Not me.
I staggered over to Fleur after this ponderous meal, and sat down on an available chair. Marisol insisted I move to a more comfortable chair. I protested, but eventually gave in and savoured the comforting softness. Marisol demanded I put my feet up. I took my shoes off, but she brought a cloth to cover the chair so I could put my shoed feet on the welcoming chair. This is a good example of the Fleur experience I sampled daily during my trip, but every time I went to Fleur, I was welcomed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, Vegas 3: Milos & Le Cirque

After far too much cantaloupe: the curse of the fruit cup, and a cup of tea from the snack place at the hotel for breakfast, I was on my way to the Greek fish restaurant I’ve been wanting to eat at since I discovered its existence.
Comfortable chairs on the 3rd floor of the Cosmopolitan, awaiting Estiatorio Milos
opening for lunch at noon. The young blond woman scowled as I approached the desk. She was not at all happy about someone looking like me (my hair makes me look like Medusa, quoth Fumiyo) into her restaurant, but alas for her, I have a reservation. It’s a fixed price lunch menu, $20.12, one of the best deals in town. I had thought of ordering the scallops as an appetizer but the neighbour from L’Atelier (the guy who recommended the John Dory!) told me to get the Greek salad appetizer instead and I’m glad I did. Astonishingly good salad, thankfully I left a few hunks of tomato to enjoy with the fish. Called “Lavraki,” or Mediterranean Sea Bass, it is a surprisingly gentle fish- no more battle with fishiness like the previous night at L’Atelier. The fish is served with some superb olive oil (as is the salad) with a few capers and pieces of cooked broccoli. Only problem was the size of the lemon wedge. So big I had difficulty squeezing it onto the fish. For some reason I was never given a spoon, so I had to stir my tea with my knife, before using it to remove the skin from the fish. Lunch finished with some tasty fruit. When my server asked what I thought of the fish, I tell him I’ve heard Milos has the best fish in Vegas and apparently, I heard correctly. “Not only Vegas,” he replies. They should be proud of what they serve here. When I got home, I posted the following on Facebook:
The customs woman at YVR asked where I was. Vegas. Why? Food. Why Vegas? It has the best restaurants. She was incredulous. She should go eat there. She asked my favourite restaurant and of course, it was Guy Savoy, but my 2nd lunch at Milos, the great Greek seafood place, was so good tears were streaming down my cheeks as I ate the tomato salad, It was actually painfully good. Why is Greece famous for its debt, instead of all the debt the world owes to its unique olive oil and the standard it sets for all palates. Better flavours than this can only be imagined, not experienced.

A decent cocktail in the waiting room prepares me of the vibrant intimacy of Le Cirque.
My attentive waiter turns out to know Vancouver well, regularly visiting and we discuss its better restaurants. My bouche is tempted with amusement with a taste of butternut squash soup with the truffles that would dominate my feasts this trip. Must be truffle time. First taste: too much squash, not enough truffle! It’s OK, but I’d rather have the ratios reversed. Like the morels with peas at Hawksworth here in Vancouver. Very light on the expensive stuff. I’m asked if I like bacon. Oh yes. The pastry amuse is said to be full of tomato and bacon and whatever tomato flavour there was couldn’t survive the overpowering pig product. Its texture was intriguing. It seemed to very pleasantly fall apart, grain by grain in my mouth. The butternut squash brought to mind Chef Feeny’s great butternut squash ravioli when he was at Lumiere, some years ago now. Every butternut attempt I’ve had since that ravioli has been noticeably inferior.
My long anticipated dish at Le Cirque, described in Eating Las Vegas in the comment by John Curtas: “langoustines with caviar, passion fruit, apples and vodka gelee will bring tears to the eyes of even the most jaded gourmet.” As soon as the I mm by 1 mm cube of vodka and Granny Smith apple hit my palate, I knew I was back in the land of culinary wizardry I’d visited last Feb, my first trip to Vegas. Aha! This is how good food can get. The langoustine however, was fishy. As bad as L’Atelier’s John Dory, and thankfully, uncharged for. Such a contrast, the divine gelee and the nasty sea creature on the same plate. Gold didn’t help at all.
My turbot was not as good as the turbot I had at Picasso last Feb, the only previous occasion I’ve had this fish. It is very good though. The interplay with the various vegetables and sauces creates numerous moments of enjoyment as I sift through their possibilities. The truffles aren’t really laying their truffleness on me, though other mushrooms perform well. Maybe we’re long past truffle time and all I’m getting are old, tired truffles no longer capable of bringing tears to jaded gourmets. The red wine paired with the turbot was another success. A sip of wine and the turbot began to sparkle. Little bolts of light start shooting out of it, mentally; a galaxy of suns being born as I’m eating. The massive success of the vegetable portion of this meal reminds me again of what Jose Andres said about the sexiness of plants in that 60 Minute interview. The problem with the turbot is that it was a good base on which I expected something to be built. There was more coherent and pleasing structure in Picasso’s turbot preparation. I kept waiting for the turbot to combine with a vegetable and a sauce to soar out of the atmosphere, but I remained earth bound.
Before leaving The Bellagio, I stop by their garden to check on my reservation at Michael Mina schedule for Friday. There are a number of sculptures of Chinese figures in the garden with cunningly displayed lights and sounds. For some reason, I’m particularly moved by the dragon. Not that I find dragons particularly interesting, nor do I find Chinese aesthetics particularly appealing- I suspect I’m really reacting to my meal. When you’re exposed to one kind of beauty, it can expand into other realms quite easily. Sensitivity is expansive, and universes of pleasure leak into each other.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday, Vegas 3, plus toxic pineapple

Next up the street, I go to the Aria for the first time, to find Julian Serrano and confirm my lunch reservation for Wed. While there, might as well try Julian’s attempt at molecular gastronomy, the lobster and pineapple skewers and a glass of sangria. This is a Spanish restaurant, the sangria should be a given, right? Uh….Well, Jaleo had great sangria and bad food, maybe Julian is the reverse? 4 skewers of pineapple lobster supposed to be Julian’s bid for molecular gastromic fame and it sounds right. Seafood and citrus usually works. Great big hunk of pineapple, which almost but not quite drowns the lobster. Initial impression: much tastier than the John Dory; at least I’m not being drowned in a sea of fishified failure. By the 2nd skewer, I’m replaying Jose Andre’s complaint to Anderson 60 minutes, about the endless chewiness and diminuation of flavour of a piece of meat. You keep chewing and chewing an essentially tasteless palate occupier. But tasteless, however tedious, is better than a bad taste. The sangria never really helped, for all its claim to fruity responsibility, and I left Serrano’s chagrinned. First night in Vegas and things were not going well. The vile aftertaste of the pineapple lingered long in my mouth until a mighty battle with a tube of toothpaste finally evicted it.

Monday, Vegas 3

My first dish at L’Atelier is the famous langoustine fritter with basil and pesto. No, first is amuse with spectacular carmelized fois under parmesan foam. Best fois I’ve ever tasted. Fritter blew me away. I loved the combination. My neighbour, who cheered when I ordered it saying I made a good choice (when I told him I was a little disappointed with the langoustine ravioli at the Mansion next door, he thought I was an expert on them, but this is only the 6th time I’ve had langoustines) then told me he thought the basil overwhelmed the subtle crustacean. To me, it seemed rather to magnify the langoustine, taking it to a new level neither would reach without their combination. Neighbour also raved about the John Dory on the Club menu, not a la carte. Our server Eddy assured me the chef could make it for me, so I ordered it instead of, too late to remember now. My next meal was carmelized kampachi with soy and endive salad. A rather confused entrée. Sometimes too fishy, sometimes overwhelmed with soy. I really looked forward to the John Dory. The only JD I’ve had before was the transformational fish at Twist last Feb. My first bite of the Chef of the Century’s JD tasted good. But the more I ate, the fishier it became. A palate annoyer. Too many capers but even their intensity couldn’t do anything about the fishiness, sort of going a different direction than helping. I think the JD could be salvaged if done differently but this style wasn’t working for me. Eddy noticed my disappointment and asked if he could re-do the fish or bring me something else but I said no. The cabbage accompaniment, as my neighbour had raved, was superb. I reveled in my Eastern European ancestry for giving me a clue to how good this vegetable can be. I was given a side dish of Joel’s famous potato butter but it failed to appeal. Cold, hard and uninviting. Unfinished, like the fish. Thankfully uncharged. Food here not nearly as good as next door. My cocktail went spectacularly well with the arresting fois gras amuse and cruised comfortably with the fritter but the kampachi pounded the poor beverage into irrelevance with its sodden soyness and frightening fishicity.
Finally fleeing L’atelier, I stop by the Mansion next door to leave a message for absent Jennifer: she was right about Mon Ami Gabi but my pleasure at her equally recommended L’Atelier ended with the last molecule of langoustine. Alas.