September 2, 2014
David and Karen Waltuck ran the legendary New York restaurant Chanterelle for thirty years, closing five years ago. David opened élan on July 1, 2014 in the former space of Veritas. We had enjoyed both restaurants and so were looking forward to a good meal when Blair joined Linda and me for dinner at élan on August 11, 2014.
Linda’s first course was
There was a good potato purée inside. The sauce underneath tasted like finely chopped mushrooms, with a hint of truffle. We had Waltuck’s potato potstickers as part of our tasting menu at Chanterelle in 2009, but the truffle sauce in the photo of our blogpost then looks more refined.
Blair started with
“general tso’s” sweetbreads
leeks, orange, chilies
He wrote that: “The flavor of the “General Tso’s” sauce was significantly less bold and spicy, which let the flavor of the sweetbreads come through. The Chinese greens brought a welcome crunch.”
grilled seafood sausage
There was a lovely seafood flavor in the sausage. The sauerkraut and mustard sauce was very mild enhancing the seafood nicely. This was also a classic dish at Chanterelle, although we did not have it on our tasting menu there.
We then started on a bottle of 2003 Domaine de Trevallon.
It was good, but not as good as other years we have had of this, one of our favorite wines. I guess that the very hot summer of 2003 had made it somewhat jammy.
Linda’s main course was a special of the evening, a duck and foie gras burger with fried Yukon Gold potato slices.
There was not enough foie gras in the ground duck burger to give the dish much of a taste, nor did the mayonnaise-plus sauce help. If a small slab of foie gras had been on TOP of the burger, it probably would have made the dish. Linda could not really get any flavor from the duck.
Blair had the
chicken pot pie
He wrote that: “The pot pie was significantly smaller than it appeared on the plate. The puff pastry was excellent and the chicken was solely the flavorful thigh meat, which I prefer in this application. Nothing dominated; the chicken, the top quality bacon and chanterelles complimented the chicken and puff pastry.”
My main was
smoky jus, vegetable spring rolls
This was an example of how an excellent chef can make good ingredients shine while a lesser chef would leave them bland or submerge them in overly complicated or strong garnishes. The flavor of the duck was brought out by the lightly smoky duck glaze underneath. The spring rolls filled with finely julienned vegetables had a completely different textures while offering a vegetable contrast to the rich meat.
We enjoyed our meal. One can easily see the hand of a fine chef in its conception and execution. One can also see that he is somewhat old-fashioned, which is a high compliment coming from me. There was no over-garnishing or over-complexity in the dishes. Chiles only showed up in the one dish in which they were in the menu’s course description.
The service was good and the pace just right. The noise occasionally rose to the annoying level, but I think that the somewhat older clientele compensated for the acoustically challenged room.