Corton, NYC 3
March 12, 2013
After our last meal at Corton, in August 2011, I wrote:
“We certainly enjoyed our meal and were never bored. That some of the combinations didn’t work for us is unimportant. We came to see what the chef was up to. I think we will be back. You should go too, if you are looking for a fine, unique culinary adventure.”
So Linda and I returned for dinner on February 28, 2013.
Corton retains its two Michelin stars, but doesn’t do so well in Zagat where it has only the fourth highest food rating.
The dining room is starkly elegant with low noise. It was only half full the night we went.
Four appetizers were quickly put on the table.
Crisp clam chowder balls with lemongrass tuiles, arugula/gorgonzola financiers topped with nasturtium leaves, a tidbit filled with mornay sauce.
We ordered glasses of Jean-Louis Denois, Brut Blanc de Blancs, Limoux N.V. This sparkling wine from Southwest France has the good Chardonnay flavor for which Limoux is known, even though it is half Carignan.
There is no à la carte offering at Corton. One can choose between the six-course Winter Menu or the nine-course Tasting Menu. We selected the Winter Menu, but it appeared that almost all the other tables had the Tasting Menu.
We ordered a bottle of 2006 Domaine Chandon de Briailles ‘Les Valozières’ 1er Cru Aloxe-Corton from the extensive, expensive wine list. It was very good.
The amuse-gueule was an egg shell with a black truffle gel on the bottom, celery root purée with a squid ink wafer.
The first menu course was
Nantucket Bay Scallop
enrobed in miso crème with a delicate gelée of beet and hibiscus and a salad of Japanese herbs
The two scallops had no flavor which could be detected above their coating. The gel was nice in itself, but had nothing to support.
Alongside was a mason jar with green apple and cardamom tofu.
This quite liquid tofu was a good base for its two flavors.
Cauliflower | Coffee
Agnolotti of cauliflower with black trumpet mushroom, coffee, caramelized sunchoke, brown cardamom
The two cauliflower-filled agnolotti were quite nice; the other ingredients were okay, but seemed confused.
Confit of black bass, red cabbage purée, and trevise marmalade scented with arctic rose and orange
The red coating on the small piece of fish looked suspicious. A small test bite revealed that it was searingly hot, a real palate killer for the fish and the wine. I guess that the smarmy phrase “scented with arctic rose” was supposed to lull the unwary. (The waiter, on being asked when we ordered, had assured us that there was nothing spicy in the meal.)
Alongside was a piece of grilled octopus, crispy black bass skin, radicchio and a confit slice of a small citrus which was a perfect garnish. This side dish was excellent, which worked well as we did not eat the main dish of this course.
Winter Game Torte
Scottish partridge, foie gras, squab, Bartlett pear, Asian pear, blood orange butter scented with Sichuan Pepper
The warm, puff pastry wrapped torte was presented before slicing and plating. It had a nice range of gamey flavors. The garnishes, which included two nuggets of squab apiece, were appropriate and good.
The pre-dessert was
Douglas Fir pine crème, Meyer lemon jam, granité of pine and Meyer lemon
This was very good, with two flavors that were unusual and melded well.
The dessert was
Chocolate fondant, burnt orange ice cream, citrus confit, Japanese black sugar sabayon
This was nice.
The mignardises were fruit gels, nougats and a little chocolate topped éclair.
Corton‘s traditional macarons, chocolates and truffles were presented. I chose one of each.
Finally, we were given a financier cake to take home for breakfast.
The meal was a real disappointment. The scallop and bass dishes were complete failures. While other courses were generally enjoyable, only the octopus side dish and the pre-dessert were at the level of Corton‘s ratings. One lesson is that it is probably best to order the big menu. We’ll probably be back, but not soon.
To see our last meal at Corton click here.