Corton, NYC

December 4, 2008

There has been a lot of buzz about Corton, which opened in early October in the space occupied for many years by Montrachet, once one of New York’s most highly rated restaurants. Experienced proprietor Drew Nieporent has hired Paul Liebrandt, who has a reputation as a brilliant, but erratic, chef.

Trying to stay ahead of the wave, Linda and I went for dinner on craNovember 29, 2008. We were welcomed by Nierporent himself and seated in the front corner table where we could see and be seen. We were certainly the best dressed diners in the house, but that is Tribeca. It was quiet when we arrived, but the noise level gradually rose. Fortunately, they did not see the need to play music. Keeping with the name of the restaurant, we ordered glasses of a white Burgundy 2006 L’Ecette Rully ‘Maizières’. Two little canapés arrived: an olive sponge and a small gougère with a runny center of a sharp cheese. They were good, but gave us the first clue that Burgundian traditions were not going to be honored here.

 

After some deliberation, we chose the $110 tasting menu over the $76 three course selections. As usual with tasting menus when there are only two drinkers, wine selection was tricky so we ordered second glasses of the very good Rully and a bottle of 2004 Edmond Cornu Aloxe-Corton ‘Vieilles Vignes’ for our red wine. The wine list has two pages of Corton, Aloxe-Corton and Corton-Charlemagne and then wines from all over.

Breads were passed: little baguettes, Picholine olive bread and thin cranberry-walnut toasts. The amuse-gueule was a cider gelée with sunchoke espumo.

Good.


The first course was
Madai
Grapefruit, Matsutake, White Konbu
crc
The madai, a firm white fish, was served raw with thin slices of matsutake, or pine mushroom, and konbu, the basic kelp used to make dashi, the common Japanese cooking stock. The little flakes of grapefruit provided a needed accent. Very good.

Second
Smoked Pasta
Black Truffle, Gouda

The flour and eggs used to make the pasta had been smoked with cherrywood, as had the butter for the truffle dressing. There was an olive purée on the bottom. We first had the combination of smoke and truffles in Copenhagen three months before. It is excellent. Gouda was a good choice for the slices of cheese on top as the dish did not need the sharpness of parmesan.

Third
Turbot
Brioche Crust, Black Garlic, Coconut Jus


The turbot was nice, but not very interesting. The little bowl of gnocchi alongside was very good.

Fourth
Pheasant
Cassoulet, Red Cabbage, Sweet Potato


This course was very pleasant and traditional.

Fifth
Brillat-Savarin
Sour Cherry Pâte de Fruit, Chickpea

Strangely, they whisked away our bread just before they served this cheese course with one thin chickpea wafer. We still had some of the Aloxe-Corton to drink with the cheese, but the fruit gel would have killed it so we ate that after the cheese as sort of a pre-dessert. This sort of wine-unfriendly planning pervaded the menu. If the truffled pasta had followed the turbot, one could have made a proper white to red change.

Sixth
Orange Crème
Amaretto, Orange, Vanilla-Tamarind

Good

Seventh
Gianduja Palette
Kalamansi, Rose, Cocoa Nib

Kalamansi is a filipino citrus that went well with the dark chocolate. This was a good dessert.

Mignardises


These four trays of chocolates and macaroons were terrific.

The meal had been interesting and enjoyable, but Corton is too unfocussed to be considered among New York’s top restaurants. The name implies themes of Burgundy and wine, but the menu and the cuisine are not wine friendly and certainly have nothing to do with traditional French cuisine, except for the very traditional pheasant course which just shows the disjointedness of the concept. There are inventive, modern ideas, but one isn’t awed by them as at WD-50. Many of the dishes rely on the multiplicity of ingredients rather than bringing out the best in a terrific main ingredient.

To read another recent blogpost on Corton click here.

www.cortonnyc.com

One Response to “Corton, NYC”


  1. […] agree with Michael of Wandering Epicures, though, there is something about the name of the restaurant, Corton, and the food being served […]


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