The Pool, NYC

January 9, 2018

The Pool opened in the summer of 2017. It is half of the renovated space in the Seagram Building of the legendary Four Seasons restaurant, which faded and closed after 55 years.  Russell joined Linda and me for dinner there on December 30, 2017.

One enters through a ground floor lobby and climbs a winding staircase, coming out by the bar of The Grill, which occupies the other half of the old space. Then a walk down a corridor lined with greenery and a display of Château Yquem, will bring you to the pool room, redecorated tropically.

A Calder mobile, appropriately suggesting a fish. hangs over the pool in the center of the room. The tables are well spaced and the ceiling is very high, which could lead to excellent conversation acoustics, but they have spoiled the ambiance with loud music that would be appropriate for a Las Vegas tiki-bar

We started with glasses of Diebolt Valois Brut, blanc de blancs Champagne.  The menu is only à la carte with a lot of variety, mostly fish and seafood, in limited offerings. We made our choices and ordered a bottle of 2015 Henri Germain ‘Limozin’ Meursault.

It was elegant with all the right Meursault characteristics. Russell, 23, wrote: “My first experience with a Meursault stands out as a highlight of 2017. A sublime, essentially new flavor for my palate.” 

Warm, excellent small baguettes were served along with little bowls of whipped butter topped with salmon tartar.

Linda’s first course was
costa rican honey, nutmeg.

The small serving of seared foie gras was accompanied by excellent crispy chips. The sweet sauce underneath was mild.

Russell and I had
ají dulce, onion

The octopus arms were nicely charred, bringing out their flavor. The sweet chili sauce did not really enhance it, but added some needed moisture. The little onion cups were quite vinegary.
Russell: “I enjoyed the octopus arms but found that the onion cups and chili sauce were not particularly complementary, though I enjoyed both individually. The sauce mopped up with small baguettes was nice.”

Linda and Russell went on to
smoked sungold mignonette

Linda: “The mignonette was puréed sun chokes with a touch of horseradish.”
Russell: “The salmon was cooked to perfection. The sharp flavor of the mignonette was very good and stood out to me as much as the salmon itself.”

I had
sauce of fennel & razor clams.

This was a good combination with the clams in the sauce bringing up the fishiness of the mild halibut.

We shared a side order of sesame braised spinach.

The spinach was cooked to just the right tenderness The sesame helped bring out its good flavor.

Russell’s dessert was
with pink grapefruit and matcha.

“My dessert was beautifully plated and was a nice light finish. I have quite a sweet tooth so I would have liked a little more coconut cream flavor than the more tart flavor of the grapefruit, but I really enjoyed it.”

My dessert was a
with caramel and marcona almonds

This was a luscious finish to what had been a fairly austere meal.  

The plate of mignardises was lovely, like a miniature Dale Chihuly assemblage.

Russell: “I greatly enjoyed the mignardises. It was as much fun to admire the glassy chocolate as it was to eat it.”

The opening reviews of The Pool in the last few months ranged from negative to mixed, but I thought we should try it anyway because of the tradition of the space. Much of the reviews focused on the architecture, the prices and the comparison with The Grill, which did not dissuade me. Some dishes were praised. If the music was mentioned, it made it sound like Harry Belafonte was softly singing in the background, not the loud raucous beat that we found. Well, our meal was good, but not great. The price level was not out of line, but we limited ourselves to three normal courses. The service and pace were fine. Well, I would not go back even if the cuisine was more interesting because of the unusually annoying music. I guess that some (most?) people enjoy that. Been there; done that.


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