Adour, NYC 2

September 6, 2010

Didier Elena joined Adour as Executive Chef in May 2010, piquing my curiosity. A 38-year-old native of Monaco, he started his cooking career at Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV there. He was Ducasse’s chef at the Essex House in New York (2000-2004) where his cuisine was praised, but the restaurant failed for being overly pretentious and expensive. Elena returned to France and served as head chef of the illustrious Hotel Le Château des Crayères in the Champagne region. In 2006, he was named Best Chef of the Year by both the Champerard and Pudlowski guides. He has been described as “a heavyweight of neo-bourgeoise cuisine.” After five successful years at Les Crayères, regaining its second Michelin star, he announced last year that he would be joining La Chèvre d’Or in Eze in order to be near his Monegasque roots. This surprised me, as I regard La Chèvre d’Or as a hopelessly pretentious tourist trap in a great setting. But he did not stay there long, moving on to Adour in a few months. Presumably his mission now is to regain the second Michelin star which Adour lost this year. But the change will not be dramatic. The top of the menu still says “Cuisine designed with wine in mind.”

Jim joined Linda and me for dinner at Adour on August 19, 2010. We ordered glasses of Alain Ducasse Champagne. The amuse gueule was: melon soup, bonito tartare with lemon foam and an excellent basil soup.

We ordered a bottle of 2006 Le Cigare Blanc; this blend of roussanne and of grenache blanc from Bonny Doon Vineyard in California’s Central Coast was interesting and good with the food. It was followed by a bottle of 2006 Capiaux “Pisoni Vineyard” Santa Lucia Pinot Noir, also very enjoyable.

Linda’s first course was
Sea Urchin Homemade Pasta
Fennel, Garlic Creamy Uni Sauce

She wrote: “Fantastic. Rarely is sea urchin prepared so magnificently as a cooked dish.”

Jim started with
Alaskan King Crab
Salad/Gratin, Haricots Verts Tender Local Greens

Jim wrote: “the various preparations of the Alaskan King Crab that constituted the dish were very flavourful, bought out the flavour of the crab in different contexts and were equally well prepared. The gratin version of the crab was rich while the diced crab (which formed the base for the plain piece of crab) was light. The contrasts gave the impression that there were four separate dishes.”

Mine was
Sweetbread and Lobster
Feuilleté, Poached Organic Farm Egg, Mushroom Duxelle

I suppose that I shouldn’t have ordered this as I am not a fan of overly complicated dishes, but I am always attracted to sweetbreads. Anyway, the dish was a mish-mash of this and that. The lobster pieces were nice, but the sweetbread pieces were small and submerged.

Linda went on to
Roasted Saddle of Niman Ranch Lamb

Summer Vegetable Fricassée, Navarin Creamy Quinoa

She wrote, “The lamb was succulent and superb. The quinoa and vegetables complemented it well.” 

Jim’s main course was
Slowly Cooked Wild King Salmon
Sautéed Vegetables, Heirloom Tomatoes, Barigoule

He wrote: ‘The King Salmon was essentially a timbale of diced, cooked salmon topped by small pieces of summer vegetables. The salmon was succulent and sweet.”

Mine was
Blond Squab Breast
Glazed Turnips, Salmis and Olive Jus

I was attracted by the idea of glazed turnips and squab. The few turnip pieces are hiding under the Brussels sprout leaves; they were very good. “Blond” meant that a crust had been put on top of the squab before reheating in the salmis. The crust was not crisp and added to the undistinguised mushiness of the whole dish.

We did not order dessert, but the mignardises were excellent and more than ample.

My meal was quite disappointing. The other two had done much better, but even their appreciation was based on good ingredients prepared very well, not remarkable cuisine created by one of the bright young stars of French cuisine. The ambience, pace, service and noise level were all very good. It wasn’t even outrageously expensive for such a spot. Well, we are glad we went, but we didn’t find the imprint of Didier Elana for which we were hoping.

And so we left through the glitzy restaurant lobby.

To see our blogpost on our meal at Adour two years before click here.

One Response to “Adour, NYC 2”

  1. seth divack Says:

    First, ADNY didn’t fail because it was overpriced and pretentious. I ate at Adour on Saturday night, the tasting menu was superb. Remember, as talented as M. Elena is, he still has to cook using the dining philosophy of M. Ducasse as a guide. In fact, your friends reaction to their meal at Adour is a wonderful summary of the Ducasse philosophy. Taking the best of ingredients and preparing them perfectly.

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