Picholine, NYC 4

May 11, 2008

Picholine has long been a favorite of ours for dining before an event at Lincoln Center. In 2006 it was redecorated and the menu became more ambitious. The reward was a second star in the last NYC Michelin. So we were expecting a lot when we went for dinner with Roan before one of the highlights of this Metropolitan Opera season, La Fille du Regiment with Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez, which would be the 2,500th opera Roan has heard! We ordered a bottle of 2005 Conundrum Varietal Blend  (Rutherford) and a bottle of the 2004 Jaboulet Saint Joseph. We were each given two little amuses-gueule: one of chopped salmon and the other of beet pannacotta.


Linda started with the always-sensational SEA URCHIN PANNA COTTA, Chilled Ocean Consommé and Caviar.  This dish brings out the briny flavor of the sea urchins and then makes it more elegant with the custard and seafood jellied consommé. It was as excellent as usual.


Roan’s starter was the FAVA BEAN SALAD, Iberico Ham, Pecorino Rustico and Lemon. He said it was excellent.


My first course was SOFT SHELL CRAB TEMPURA, Vegetables à la Grecque and Raisin-Mustard Emulsion. The tempura was well done with the batter being light and hot. The vegetables and sauce were pretty, but disappointingly insubstantial.


Linda’s main course was VERMONT SADDLE OF RABBIT, Fresh Tagliatelle, Ramps and Wild Snails.   The rabbit was succulent and cooked perfectly; the tiny chops were delicious and the snails and tagliatelle, with rabbit, were appreciated.


Roan had the GRILLED ROUGET NICOISE, Tomato Jam, Tapenade, Panisse and Fennel Pollen. He was very happy with it.


My main course was the LICORICE-GLAZED SQUAB, Purslane and Foie Gras-Rhubarb Vinaigrette. There was more squab than is evident in the photo. I had to do some work getting it all off the bones, but that is to be expected with squab. There were also chunks of beets along with the rhubarb, which gave a light sweet and sour touch to the whole dish.


As we had started early and the service had not been slow, we had time to order the cheese selection instead of dessert. Picholine has a sister restaurant, Artisinal, which is also an elaborate cheese store. So the cheese chariot is always quite a show here. Max McCalman, the maître fromager, gives an elaborate presentation of what he has, which is carefully selected to represent many countries and types of cheese. We each picked out three. The cart was then taken away and in a few minutes we were each served pieces of our three cheeses on a wooden board. Thinly sliced breads and a bowl of dates and other appropriate fruits was put on the table. The white bowl of creamy cheese in the middle of my board was Azeitão, a delicious sheep’s milk cheese from Portugal. The other two are mountain sheep’s cheeses, but I cannot remember from where. We enjoyed the course, but it was a shame to miss Picholine’s excellent desserts.  


Glasses of Moscato d’Asti were offered with the espresso and the lovely mignardises.

I have no quarrel with Michelin’s raising Picholine to two stars and thus among the dozen best restaurants in New York. We often talk about coming some time when we are not going to Lincoln Center, but it will probably never happen as we have so many occasions to come when we are, but not many as celebratory as Roan’s 2,500th opera. Fortunately it was sensational and so the whole evening was a joy.

To see our last two blogposts on Picholine click here.


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