Picholine, NYC 6

March 29, 2010

We usually go to Picholine before an opera and so don’t take full advantage of its elegant ambience as well as its two-Michelin-star cuisine. But on March 16, 2010, we had gone to an Opera Guild lecture at 6:00 and so were able to meet John for a quiet dinner at Picholine at 7:30. We ordered glasses of Pol Roger “Extra Cuvée de Réserve” NV Champagne to start and then a bottle of 2001 Mas de la Dame “Coin Caché.”  This Grenache/Syrah blend is grown in a hidden nook right under Les Baux de Provence. It had a lovely, balanced flavor.

The first amuse-gueule was a hot Manchego tempura on a stick.

This put John in a very good mood. It was fun, but not really the best product for tempura.

The next amuse-gueules were a small braised short rib and a carrot/cumin panna cotta with a ginger crumble.

Very nice.

The final amuse-gueule was a poached quail egg wrapped in brioche dough, topped with Sterling caviar.

This was sensational, one of the best amuse-gueules ever as the caviar melted into the quite soft egg and the brioche added a bit of texture. mmmm.

Linda and John’s first course was the
sea urchin panna cotta
Chilled Ocean Consommé, Caviar

The dish combined three flavors of the sea: the mild, but rich, base of sea urchin was highlighted by the fishy saltiness of the caviar. The gelée of clear shellfish broth gave a third dimension. Little crisp wafers were served with it to provide a texture contrast.

My starter was 
warm maine lobster
Fried Vanilla Milk, Endive, Kumquats

Lobster and vanilla have become a classic combination and this dish showed why. The lobster was barely cooked, but the vanilla had been tamed with frying before being infused in the milk with lobster fumet. Bravo.

We then received a mid-course extra of cured venison lomo with pomegranate seeds on a chocolate smear.

The cured venison loin was rich and meaty, but not heavy due to its very thin slicing.

Another mid-course extra arrived: a “foie gras explosion” in tortoloni with duck gizzard and frisée.

These rich ingredients were luscious, but tempered by the small portion.

Linda’s main course was 
Pain d’épices Pillow, “Fleischschneke”

The young pigeon breasts were tender and flavorful. The Alsatian “meat snails” are produced by placing the pigeon leg meat on a noodle dough base which is then rolled and sliced before cooking it in a broth. The little spice bread and vegetables finished the dish well.

John and I had the 
lamb duo
Moroccan Flavors and Textures

From right to left (which is how they read in Morocco:) Three slices of seared lamb loin on a bed of hummus; spicy harissa paper; a cube of braised lamb belly coated in panko; an eggplant, raisin, pine nut compote. This course was very nice; the flavors seemed authentically Moroccan and went nicely together. They had just the right amount of spiciness. We can excuse borrowing panko, light crisp breadcrumbs, from the Japanese. They added the right texture to the rich braised lamb belly, without adding any flavor.

The pre-dessert was a thyme gelée topped with a goat cheese dome and candied thyme.

Refreshing and the right flavors to continue on from the lamb.

John’s dessert was 
chocolate-hazelnut croustillant
Caramel Praliné Ice Cream

He loved it.

Linda’s was 
apple confit
Pain Perdu, Vanilla-Hickory Ice Cream

She thought all three parts were excellent.

My dessert was 
maple panna cotta
Poached Pear, Cranberry “Paper

The custard had a lovely maple flavor which was brought out by the various garnish tidbits.

We were offered an extra dessert for the table.
citrus tasting
Bergamot Confit, Blood Orange, Olive Oil-Lemon Sorbet


The mignardises were a mixture of macaroons, custard tartelettes, fruit gels and fresh chocolates. Lovely.


Our evening was perfect; every course was well thought out and executed.  The service was impeccable and the pace just right. The little extras were an excellent addition that kept us feeling mellow. The noise level was low as the restaurant was inexplicably only half full; it was the evening before Saint Patrick’s Day and O’Neal’s next door was packed, but that shouldn’t have an effect.

To see our last meal at Picholine, in December 2008, click here.

To see our meal at Picholine, in May 2008, click here.


One Response to “Picholine, NYC 6”

  1. sue girdwood Says:

    Mike – This meal has me in a reverie — sounds wonderful, particularly those inspired-sounding amuses-gueules.

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