By grace.g.yang ยท August 23, 2010
Under: Desserts,Dinner,French,Michelin 2010 Guide,My Life,Prix-fixe,seafood,Things to do in NYC,UES

We invited my mom to New York to celebrate her birthday in New York and David and I decided to take her to Daniel for dinner. I was really excited because Daniel is on my list of restaurants of Michelin restaurants I’m going to this year AND I’ve wanted to dine at Daniel since I moved to New York four years ago. On our way to the restaurant:


We picked Laura up on the way to the restaurant and arrived a bit early so we could take some family pictures:


A picture of the four of us before dinner:


The restaurant was redesigned a couple of years ago and looked very elegant with contemporary lighting and furniture. It actually used to be a hotel (a long time ago) and Daniel and his family live above the restaurant (as our server explained, going to a restaurant is like going into someone’s home and when you dine at Daniel, you are practically going into his home).

We weren’t sure what kind of tasting we were going to do – you can choose from the three course, the six course, or the chef’s tasting menu. After some discussion, we chose the chef’s tasting and asked our server to have as many plates as possible. Melissa, our server, took our request and we started our epic dinner at Daniel.

We started off with three different tastings of beets:


The lobster and beet combination was my least favorite because the flavors and seasoning for each were so different:


My favorite was the beet puree with parmesan crisp:


And the beet with a potato chip was also delicious with an interesting texture combination of crunchy and smooth:


After four waiters removed all of our plates, another server came and gave us our bread options – the breads are all baked in house and I chose the butter roll and the rosemary and olive roll:


The rosemary olive bread was a little too dry for my tastes (Le Bernardin and Le Cirque both have better rosemary olive bread, in my opinion) but the butter roll was crispy and tasted like there was bread in each and every crevice of the innards. I was kind of sad that they only offered us bread once, but I’m guessing it was because we were getting so much food that they didn’t want us to fill up on bread. At least that’s how I’m going to rationalize their lack of bread offerings!

We started right off the bat with decadent foie gras – I had the duck terrine with champagne mango – Sicilian pistachios, young salad, sauternes gelee, and shaved turnip:


Laura’s foie gras was the mosaic of guinea hen – celery root, foie gras, and black truffle:


My mom had the qual and black trumpet ballotine – plum mostarda, Satur Farms vegetable salad:


And David had the roasted foie gras – black mission figs, spicy hazelnuts:


So when I go out to eat with people, we usually switch plates halfway through (something most people have learned by now). My mom, who ate with me at SHO Shaun Hergatt* and Aureole, is really good about switching plates, but when David went to switch, my mom just looked guiltily at him and said that she didn’t have anything to share because she forgot! Needless to say, we all thought it was hilarious and didn’t mind that the birthday girl had eaten her entire portion of her foie gras. My favorite of the four was Laura’s; not only because the presentation was absolutely awesome, but because the combination of flavors was probably one of the most decadent things I’ve eaten (truffles and foie gras – yes, please!) David’s roasted foie gras was also very good, but I didn’t like the combination of the black mission figs (figs were used a lot throughout the night).

Next, we tried different types of seafood – I had the trio of Spanish mackerel – warm with cumin, carrot mousseline, tartar with north star caviar, poached with white wine gelee:


My mom had the duo of Mediterranean sardines – Escabeche with lemon-tomato marmalade, crispy with summer vegetable tian, sweet pepper coulis:


Laura had the peekytoe crab salad with persian cucumber – black sesame coulis, early mesclun, radishes:


And David had the duo of red mullet – brandade with Orleans mustard and fennel – gratine with beet-grapefruit vinaigrette:


The most interesting presentation was Laura’s – doesn’t it look like it’s a baby watermelon on her plate? (so cute!!) I enjoyed the Spanish mackerel, especially the mackerel prepared with a bit of caviar, but the other two were a little too fishy. We enjoyed the peekytoe crab salad with persian cucumbers as well because it was very fresh and crunchy, but it didn’t absolutely WOW us. David mentioned that he thought he was getting shafted on his courses because he didn’t really like his options, but I reminded him that since we were sharing everything, it didn’t matter too much that he didn’t like his initial plates.

For our next course, we started to get into more substantial plates – I had the crispy rice dusted kampachi – eggplant caponata, paprika-tahini coulis, aged balsamic:


Laura was served the duo of octopus – ceviche with fava bean, capers, Manouri cheese, tempure with minted old chatham yogurt, cucumber:


My mom had the gorgonzola fedelino and mesclun tortelloni – tomato confit, caramelized walnuts, capers, snow peas:


And David had the hazelnut and chorizo crusted Maine sea scallops – stewed gnocchi, corn fricassee, nasturtium salad:


When we told our server, Melissa, that we wanted to try lots of different dishes, she explained that some courses would be the same for all for our us because the chef thought some preparations were special enough that they wanted everyone at the table to have a full serving of it. The servers rolled out a cart with two silver heating mechanisms:


After the cart was rolled out, two servers came with our turbot:


We all had whole roasted Noirmountier turbot – black mission figs, roasted daikon radish, chickpea panisse, fig-balsamic jus:


There were four perfect portions presented on silver and then portioned out to all of us:


The turbot was dense, meaty, and flaky (similar to cod) but I would’ve liked a more savory sauce (I didn’t really like the foie gras with black mission figs that we started with and I didn’t like the black mission figs with turbot). However, I thought serving the fish at table side was an extra nice touch that I haven’t seen at many other restaurants I’ve visited.

By the time we finished our turbot, we were getting a little full, but still had two more savory courses. We only had two varieties for our next course – my brother and I started with the four story hill farm veal trio – roasted tenderloin, baby leeks confit, crispy sweetbreads, artichoke barigoule, braised cheeks, and young turnips:


And Laura and my mom had the duo of Pennsylvania squab – roasted breast with arugula subric, celery, marcona almond crusted leg with bing cherry jus:


The veal trio might’ve been my favorite course of the evening (well, so far); the tenderloin was seared and the most tender and flavorful piece of meat I’ve had in a while. The crispy sweetbreads had an interesting texture that David didn’t like (I don’t think he’s ever had sweetbreads before because he asked what they were), and the braised cheeks were a little too seasoned, but still very good. Laura and my mom really enjoyed the squab; the combination of the tart cherry jus with the little pigeon was absolutely delicious and it was actually my mom’s favorite dish of the night.

For our last savory course of the evening, we had three choices – I started with the Elysian farm lamb loin – tandoori spiced shoulder, minted ratatouille, ricotta gnocchi, broccolini, and zucchini flower tempura:


David had the trio of Quebec suckling pig – roasted chop with brussels sprout fondue, crispy pork belly, glazed chayote, sage jus, “porchetta” daikon cannelloni:


And Laura and my mom finished the savory courses with a duo of beef – black angus short ribs with young spinach, mozzarella-bresaola salad, wagyu tenderloin, stuffed tomato with basil, black garlic pommes dauphine, sauce “Choron”:


I didn’t have the opportunity to try all of David’s course (it was difficult for him to split up) but the short ribs were tender enough to cut with a fork. Laura’s not a fan of lamb but enjoyed the lamb dish because it wasn’t gamey like most preparations of lamb (we also had a great lamb dish the weekend before when we went to a barbeque at my mom’s colleague’s house).

After we finished all of the savory courses, we were ready to go home and sleep from a food-induced coma, but we still had two courses of desserts (or so we thought). Melissa asked if we wanted to do a cheese tasting as well and since it was a special occasion, we said sure! Melissa and her team came up with an amazing cheese plate:


The cheese plate was served with apricots, dried cherries, fresh figs, and honeycomb:


My cheese plate:


We were instructed to eat clockwise from the bottom right hand corner and all of the cheeses were amazing (especially the triple cream goat cheese). After the cheese course, we were all pretty stuffed, but then came our last course – the desserts!

Originally, we were supposed to have two courses of desserts; however, if you order a cheese course, it replaces one of the dessert courses. Since it was my mom’s birthday, Melissa made it extra special by bringing us a TON of desserts! My plates:


My mom’s plates:


David’s plates:


And Laura’s plates:


As if eight desserts weren’t enough, Melissa brought out a special dessert with almonds (my mom’s FAVORITE thing to eat) with a special birthday candle and edible gold:


All of us with my mom’s birthday cake:


And the entire spread of desserts:


They also brought out petit fours with (in the back of the last photograph) that had passion fruit “bubbles” that popped in your mouth. We loved all of the desserts – the poached donut peaches, the chocolate molten cakes, the peanut infused brownies – EVERYTHING was absolutely amazing. AND THEN they brought out warm madelines:


They were teeny-tiny madelines that were still warm because they had just come out of the oven and had just a hint of lemon flavor that made them absolutely impossible to resist. So…we thought we were finished with dinner (especially since it was past midnight and the restaurant was empty) but then they brought out CHOCOLATES:


Laura was in the restroom when the server came out with chocolates so her punishment was that she was given one of each chocolate (what a stiff punishment). After our chocolates, we FINALLY finished dinner – just in time for an exclusive look at Daniel’s kitchen! Melissa was nice enough to take us through the entire kitchen, which is quite large for a restaurant in New York. When you first walk into the kitchen, you notice the buddha and duck presses on top of the cabinet of polished silver:


The duck press was served at Daniel for a special occasion a couple years ago; David and I were interested to know if they serve it on a regular basis at Daniel since we had seen one at Le Cinq in Paris two years ago. The duck is prepared and then the innards and bones are put into the duck press so the juices can be pressed out of the duck and combined with a red wine reduction to accompany the seared duck.

A large black clock is close to the monitor where the chefs watch diners eat (to see diners’ reactions of each plate):


Next, we climbed up a narrow staircase to get to the skybox, where Daniel hosts private parties for four people. You get a perfect view of the kitchen and also lots of privacy; Melissa said that when the shades are pulled, the servers know to stop checking on their diners ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also in the photograph is a poster of the original Cafe Boulud outside Paris, France.

The table in the private dining room with the plush couches:


Lance Armstrong is apparently a huge Daniel Boulud fan (and Chef Boulud is also a fan of Armstrong because his jersey is framed and signed in the skybox). There isn’t a separate kitchen for the private skybox on the second floor, so the server has to climb up the narrow staircase to serve their diners!

David in the skybox:


After the tour of the skybox, Melissa showed us where all of the breads are baked (they’re delivered to all of the Boulud restaurants throughout the city), the dessert station, and the prep stations. Me and Melissa near the end of our tour:


The night ended around 12:30 and we hopped into a cab and talked about our meal the entire way home. While I really enjoyed the meal at Daniel, I was trying to go through all of our dishes to talk about the highlights of the meal and really couldn’t think of any dish that really stood out. The presentation of the turbot was impressive and the cheese plate was really rich and satisfying, but none of the courses tasted so good that we really wanted more (David mentioned that he still thinks about the salmon canapes he had at per se and who can forget the oysters and pearls?) One thing that slightly annoyed me was that the maitre’d came over to me as we were sitting down for dinner and specifically told me that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the dining room (for privacy of their guests), which is understandable, but he definitely didn’t tell any of the other tables that brought cameras. He also specifically said that flash wasn’t allowed (which is also understandable because Alinea has the same policy), but didn’t tell the other tables near us and they ended up taking pictures of their entire meal! AND NO ONE TOLD THEM TO STOP! After the restaurant cleared out, I did end up taking some photographs with flash (although I think the pictures without flash actually turned out better). Other than that incident, the service at Daniel was on par with the other three stars (at Per Se and Le Bernardin, they really anticipate your needs and know what you want before YOU even know). Our server, Melissa, took the time to explain each of the dishes (and it was quite a lot since most of our courses had four different options) and also spent the time taking us through the entire kitchen. The food was also very good, but there was definitely no ‘wow’ factor with the tastes (except for dessert….dessert was awesome). I’d love to go back to Daniel and eat in the skybox someday – one day I’ll have the money to do it!

Daniel on Urbanspoon

Reader Comments

Quite an ending to your meal! However, I can’t help but echo your statements about the food, everything was good, but nothing was outstanding. I remember from my experiences at Per Se and The French Laundry how chef Keller tries to give you just enough to leave you wanting more…which, I sadly did get here. Regardless, it looked as if you all thoroughly enjoyed your experience at Daniel and I enjoyed the pics, snooty waiter aside!

Written By TheDegustationAsian on August 23rd, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

Quite a post. I can imagine what a long but enjoyable experience you and your family must have had. This is the kind of amazing restauent experience one can talk about it for a long time. Great photos, too. Thanks.

Written By Maria on August 23rd, 2010 @ 10:45 pm


Written By caramela on August 24th, 2010 @ 2:05 am

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