Degustation, NYC 3

October 1, 2013

Linda and I had enjoyed Degustation last April so it was a logical choice for Blair and me to try during my birthday week. We went for dinner on August 1, 2013.

I started with a glass of Cordoníu Cava Brut NV. It was good and, of course, went well with the oyster. We were told that the Tasting Menu would be mostly seafood and so ordered a bottle of white wine. Despite some interesting looking Spanish offerings we settled on a 2010 Domaine Clusel-Roch Condrieu, which was offered at an attractive price for a Condrieu. I had not heard of this one before; it was very good, with the complex characteristics one looks for in a Condrieu. We also ordered glasses of 2008 “Viña Pomal Reserva” Bodegas Bilbainas red wine from the Rioja to go with our meat course. It was nicely rich and complex. 

The first course was
Kusshi oyster, paddlefish roe, mignonette foam
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This oyster is one of the best from the Pacific Northwest. Foaming the mignonette gave it a light touch and the roe added a nice bit of brininess. A good start.

Hamachi crudo, pressed melon, shiso leaf, lemon curd 
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Continuing with Pacific seafood, the flavor of the thick slices of Japanese Amberjack was nicely brought out by the four dabs of lemon curd. The pressed melon and baby shiso leaves were well matched with the fish.

Deep-fried Brussels sprouts, pine nuts, Funyun sprinkle, Cheddar cheese shavings
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The deep-frying station was right in front of us and so we could watch and hear batches of Brussels sprouts going into it in their wire basket.  They were served to us hot and crisp with playful garnishes that lightened up the dowdy image of Brussels sprouts.

Huevos rancheros, queso fresco, shisoto pepper, tortilla crumble, cherry tomato, herb purée
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Under the crumbled tortilla is a poached egg which had been heated on the plancha in front of us. It was on top of what seemed to be a cilantro and parsley purée. The fried shishito pepper was a nice substitution for a chili, which would have been too much. This playful take on a Mexican staple tasted as good as it was amusing.

A sea scallop seared on the plancha, golden raisins and capers, radish slices and a potato mousse on top.
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The contrasting sweet raisin and briny caper mix really brought out the scallop’s flavor.


Potato gnocchi, blue Hawaiian prawns, peas and pea sprouts
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This pretty dish was enjoyable, but the least interesting of the evening for me.

Pork belly, white eggplant purée, couscous, chorizo breadcrumbs
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At the start of our meal, chunks of pork belly had been placed on the very hot plancha. They were occasionally turned so that all sides were caramelized, leaving the inside moist and rich. These two slices were delicious despite what my cardiologist might think. The garnishes were not contrasting in texture, but were each rich in their own ways, creating a visual take on ham and eggs. This was a very satisfying main course after all the good preliminaries.

Cranberry jelly with cucumber granità, mint leaf
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A good combination.

French toast brûlée with smoked maple glaze
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A piece of brioche that seemed to have been soaked in custard was topped with smoked maple syrup which was then caramelized with a blow torch by the plancha cook. Luscious.

Nicholas Licata has been the Executive Chef at Degustation since February 2013, having arrived from its sister restaurant, Jack’s Oyster Bar, which closed last winter. He was normally working at the plating station, but came around in front of us a few times. The team of cooks was amazingly well coordinated with each one having his own station. It was not obvious to us how they knew what had been ordered and when it had to be done, but their system obviously worked well.
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We thoroughly enjoyed our meal with the kitchen theater in front of us adding to the excellent, imaginative cuisine. The service was always good, the pace just right and the noise level not too bad.

To see our meal at Degustation in April click here.


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