June 22, 2008

34 East 61st Street; New York NY  212-319-1660

(June 10, 2008).  Who knows what finally lured us to this Upper East Side treasure but whatever it was we are now firm fans. 

As usual with a first visit, we had the tasting menu, at $38 for three courses this may be the lunch bargain of the western world. 

Our amuse bouche of smoked salmon belly with a chive sauce tipped us off that we were in for a treat.  Gary’s chilled asparagus and ricotta with a truffled leek vinaigrette was topped with a sunny side up egg and it all blended together well. 

Varian’s soft shell crabs were sauteed and served with mangoes and scallions and an Asian style soy lime vinaigrette. 

Gary’s saffron braised rabbit with paparadelle, chick peas olives and parsley made him homesick for Nice, while Varian’s grilled hangar steak with marinated onions, wilted baby spinach and a white bean puree couldn’t have been better. 

For dessert, Gary’s plate and a firm chocolate mouse with peanuts and syrup and ice cream with vanilla sauce.  Uncharacteristically, instead of cheese, Varian had a bowl of luscious fresh berries.

Throughout the meal we ordered our wines by the glass so we could experiment.  The four we tried, two each not four each thank you very much, were a 2007 rose from Mas de la Dame in les Baux and a Sauvignon Blanc Panacea from Napa.  The reds were a 2003 Chianti Classico Riserva and a 2005 Malbec and Cabernet from the Mendoza region of Argentina. 
The decor is quite understated, leaving room for some dramatic floral displays.  Alas, however, this intimate and relaxed address will soon be closing to move to a new one in the Bank of America Building at 42nd and 6th.  Lunches will be served at this address only for the next month or two, so get there while you can.
written by Gary and Varian

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