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Adour at the St. Regis


oakapple
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  • 7 months later...

I went there this past week for the first time. Other than the overpriced wine list (which, indeed, is seriously overpriced), I had one of the best meals of any restaurant in New York. Upon arriving, I waited for my dining companion in the small bar--only one seat was taken, leaving 4 I think, left. Had a lovely 07 Alsatian riesling by the glass while I played with the computerized wine list that displays using a touch screen projection on the bar.

We took our time looking over the reserve list (and feeling a bit of pain at the prices; not really priced for the current economic climate) and settled on a while Burgundy and a 1995 Rhone to go with the tasting menu. On the first bite, I said to my friend "This is very serious food." The food, without exception, is NYT 4 star quality/Michelin *** qualitly. The service is not up to that standard, and one must get past the wine list prices, but if the subject is just the food only, the place under the new chef totally delivers. The food was intricate, complex, stunning. The only exception I would have is the cheese course was a let down for an establishment run by M. Ducasse. Not disappointing, just not as thrilling as I would have expected, given the other dishes.

In the future, I will go and sit at the bar, have a wine by the glass or two, and then one or two dishes from the menu. A much more affordable (and in sync with the times) way to have a peak culinary experience.

I should say that the wine service was exceptional under sommelier Vanessa Boyd.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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Good question, Sneakeater; I didn't actually ask them. A gentleman sitting near me at the bar was eating a dish that resembled one of the dishes we had from the tasting menu. But excellent question and one that I did not think to ask or question.

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His name is Joel Dennis. I'll post more about our meal:

Here was our menu:

CUCUMBER VINEGAR MARINATED HAMACHI

WATERMELON RADISH, LONG PEPPER, GREEN APPLE MUSTARD

GLAZED MULTICOLOR VEGETABLE COMPOSITION

JUS DE CUISSON, NAVETTE OIL

BUTTER POACHED MAINE LOBSTER

PARSLEY LEAF PASTA “IMPRESSION”, MUSHROOM

DUCK BREAST FILET “AU PLAT”

CREAMY POLENTA, SHALLOTS, RADISH, NIÇOISE OLIVES

APPLE SABLÉ

GRANNY SMITH SORBET, CALVADOS EMULSION, VANILLA CREAM

The hamachi was the perfect combination of texture and flavor. Served sashimi style, the freshness and texture were, in themselves, stunning, but then the delicate and subtle flavor imparted by the marinade just put it over the edge into heaven. I loved it. "This is serious food!" I exclaimed to Bill, who immediately agreed. I think we were both surprised at the start by how great the food was.

The vegetable dish was my dish of the night. Just the right combination of flavors from the vegetables, and a texture of crunch, this dish was my dish of the night. The navette oil added just the right amount of delicacy and elegance to the dish.

The lobster was great, and covered by the obviously handmade sheet of parsley leaf pasta. It was beautiful, and tasted even better than it looked. I loved it; even if I kept going back and thinking about the vegetables.

"As good as this dish is, it would be even better with one more piece of duck" my friend told our captain, and he was right. A small portion of duck, nevertheless, it went beautifully with our 1995 Ch. Beaucastel. The duck was cooked perfectly, and with the sauce, just screamed. I loved the creamy polenta--my friend commented "Normally I don't care for polenta but this is great!." It reminded me of a Ducasse equivalent of Robuchon's creamy potato puree.

We then had a cheese course, which was quite good but not in the same league as the rest of our food or for what I would expect of a Ducasse restaurant. Fine but not singing.

They brought out 3 desserts for us to try. One was the apple dessert listed above, which was good and another was a dark chocolate dessert that was both our favorites. By then it was late and my ability to describe the 3 desserts in proper detail isn't up to par, I'm afraid.

Anyway, serious serious food.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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Who's the new(ish) chef, again?

Since he left Adour where is Chef Esnault now?

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Who's the new(ish) chef, again?

Since he left Adour where is Chef Esnault now?

I believe he is a private chef.

Martha Stewart's, if I'm not mistaken.

But I want to know more about Mr. Dennis.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Who's the new(ish) chef, again?

Since he left Adour where is Chef Esnault now?

I believe he is a private chef.

Martha Stewart's, if I'm not mistaken.

But I want to know more about Mr. Dennis.

There is a biography about Chef Dennis on the adour website. He worked in Chicago at Tru and has been with Ducasse in New York since Adour opened.

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At least one blog has reported that Esnault is no longer with Martha Stewart:

http://www.the-feedbag.com/mr-snitch/forme...itten-by-martha

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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There is a biography about Chef Dennis on the adour website. He worked in Chicago at Tru and has been with Ducasse in New York since Adour opened.

He was chef de cuisine at TRU, I believe, then he was executive chef of Blue Water Grill in Chicago, then Adour. His last job in NY was at Alain Ducasse NY (separate from Adour, of course) before he went to TRU. So, its...ADNY, TRU, Blue Water Grill Chicago, Adour.

Of course, I should have checked the website, which, by the way, is a considerable improvement over its former cyberhome.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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  • 2 weeks later...
Anyone shell out for the $48 black truffle martini?

At this time of the year?

Or are they using canned truffle juice?

Either way, I'm not sure I would order it, even if I could drink much of it.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Something about truffle infused vodka, not truffle juice, so I'm guessing it's homemade and they have it stashed away somewhere. It's kind of got it's own mini highlight section on the cocktails page, was on the menu as of Friday, although I didn't dare ask if it was available...

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Something about truffle infused vodka, not truffle juice, so I'm guessing it's homemade and they have it stashed away somewhere.  It's kind of got it's own mini highlight section on the cocktails page, was on the menu as of Friday, although I didn't dare ask if it was available...

How was dinner. Anything new on the menu?

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It was my first visit to Adour, so I can't really make a big deal out of much. On the factual side, we arrived at 7:30 on a Friday, were warmly greeted, led to our table from which we observed that the next youngest couple in the entire place was likely in their 50's, a good 20+ years older at least. The average age was honestly somewhere in the mid 60's at that point. As the evening went on, a group in their 40's, another young couple here and there walked in, but I didn't expect the sight we had when we arrived.

The dining room itself is apart from the hotel lobby, but at the same time it's hard to forget that you are eating in a hotel. The room is quite dark, but nice. Several private rooms and dining enclaves surround the main dining room, the nicest of which they call the "vault room", for it's the room where someone apparently must, or at very least can, rent out one of many wine lockers to the tune of 6 grand a year. Unfortunately the vault room also seems to require a large number of diners, as it's one large table.

Onto the food, our amuse was pretty weak, it was a small segment of the Parmesan Crusted Cannelloni that was on the menu as an appetizer the week prior (it's still listed on the website menu right now). This conceptually bothered me for some reason, just seemed very lazy. Three breads were offered, an olive, a baguette and a whole wheat. The first two were forgettable, the last one a delight - surprising since the first two types are my favorites (EMP's baguette being my fav). The butter was a black olive butter.

The menu did have some new dishes (at least from what's on the website menu). For apps there was a steamed asparagus and braised morels dish served with a lemon sabayon. There was also a spring garlic veloute served with watercress and frogslegs. Interested in trying the new chefs food, and also going for the "pepsi challenge" to JG's similarly structured dishes, we ordered both. I also ordered the hold over (from the previous chef) sweetbreads meuniere with egg purse app. The garlic soup wasn't great, not reduced enough to my taste, but there was plenty of it. The asparagus & morels were excellent, the lemon sabayon quite lightly drizzled, the asparagus artfully arranged. The sweetbreads were deliciously funky and came served with a poached egg and warm brioche which were good. The veggies accompanying the dish were cut into small thin triangles, adorning the egg & sweetbreads. It was beginning to seem clear that artistic design was a primary concern of this restaurant's kitchen.

For mains I had a new halibut dish that was topped with a razor clam shell stuffed with a minced razor clam gratin of sorts. Underneath the fish were 2 sauces, one surrounding the other making a very artful presentation. My wife had the butter poached lobster which was just gorgeous to look at. Neither dish blew away on the flavors, but both were quite good.

Dessert was 2 apricot souffles that arrived looking like a million bucks. We were in temporary heaven until the spoon literally hit something solid after I buried it into the top of the souffle. UGH. Large slices of apricot?? In the middle of a souffle?? Who does that?? So frustrating. We threw our spoons down in semi-disgust, eager to dive into the tremendously generous mignardises of macarons! 8 of them! 4 banana, 4 raspberry. These were f'ing good. Between a couple of the macarons and the amaretto ice-cream that accompanied the souffle, all was temporarily forgiven.

A quick word on service (the thing I am least comfortable talking about after 1 visit): There does not seem to be a set standard here, the proverbial strong voice at the top directing behaviors & movements to within a certain spec would seem to be absent. Servers definitely had their quirks and mannerisms, good in some cases, bad in others.

All in all, I preferred my meal here to my meal at Bouley. Beyond that, I can't really say with any level of certainty, except to say that I'll return once more during the summer when the new chef should be comfortably settled in. There was a lot to like, if you can somehow figure out the most beautiful dishes on the menu ahead of time, I'm certain that photos of this food will be gorgeous. But at the same time, this wasn't a flawless "blown away" type meal either. As far as I can tell, this place (unlike ADNY IMO) seems to have been fairly reviewed to date, even if it may still be improving.

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Thanks for the report, sick. Good to read and interesting. I keep thinking about this place because I was impressed with the food, but so put off by the high mark ups on the wine.

I look forward to your next write up after you go back. I'd like to go back as well in the next couple of months and see how the new chef is doing.

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  • 1 month later...
For mains I had a new halibut dish that was topped with a razor clam shell stuffed with a minced razor clam gratin of sorts.  Underneath the fish were 2 sauces, one surrounding the other making a very artful presentation.

I was looking through the old ADNY threads looking for photos, and came across this photo:

gallery_122_337_1100801748.jpg

From this post by Ellen Shapiro. She describes it as Atlantic bass with clams. This is almost exactly what my halibut dish (referenced above and still on the menu) looked like, except that chef used the razor clam shell to hold the minced clam atop the halibut. Otherwise this looks almost identical to what I ate, thought that was interesting.

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  • 1 month later...
Okay, not cheap as in Gray's Papaya cheap or even 'inoteca cheap. I'm sure my late father-in-law would be saying "$15 for a couple of scallops? In a little bowl? Highway robbery!" But that's with truffle. Not truffle oil. Actual slices and bits of black truffle. And impeccably garnished with vegetables that represent the pinnacle of vegetable cookery, and sauced with a shellfish jus that puts most American sauce-making to shame. In other words, it's a bargain at $15 because it's a fully functioning representation of what Ducasse does best and it's only $15. Indeed, every dish on the bar menu is cheap: they range from $9 to $16. They're small but most of them are superb. If you order all eight savory dishes, and the cheese plate, and all three desserts, it comes to $143. If you go to Ducasse's restaurant in Monaco the scallops with black truffle will cost you 110 Euros (Euros!) for just that one dish. Sure it's several times over the portion size, but you can get the $15 version here and you can also order every other dish on the bar menu and it still comes to less than the cost of that one dish in Monaco. So, to me, that's cheap.

Is the bar menu still this cheap (and good)? They don't show it on the website.

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  • 8 months later...

Well, Joel Dennis is confirmed to be leaving. Having eaten there 3+ more times since my first visit, I feel this will be a good change for the restaurant. The food of late reminded me of Blue Hill @ Stone Barns without the farm, food simply prepared and served so as to highlight the ingredients, but without the array of homemade canapes preceding it and without the massive fresh farm walking hours old ingredients over to the kitchen. On the positive side, every protein I ever ate here was ridiculously perfectly cooked, their pricing was a la carte so you could help yourself and dishes were artful in appearance, but it never added up to food that tasted as exciting as it's peers.

The tragedy here is that their pastry chef is hands down the most talented in the city IMO, Sandros desserts are constructed but retain a homemade style of delicious - the macarons literally miles and miles apart from the 2nd best in town. There is a lot there that is great, and yet they have this revolving door of chefs. Kind of a shame, I really feel that Chef Ducasses failure to hire a great Chef for this restaurant (we now see his former chef's move onto lukewarm reviews elsewhere more often than not, with exceptions) is costing us what could really be a stellar 4 star dining experience otherwise.

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Well, Joel Dennis is confirmed to be leaving. . . . Kind of a shame, I really feel that Chef Ducasses failure to hire a great Chef for this restaurant (we now see his former chef's move onto lukewarm reviews elsewhere more often than not, with exceptions) is costing us what could really be a stellar 4 star dining experience otherwise.

He's 0 for 2 at Adour, and obviously when Ducasse chooses the wrong deputy it reflects upon his judgment. Benoit is now on its second chef too (though working out well, from what I hear), and his other NYC restaurants, now closed, also had revolving doors in the kitchen.

Adour, by design, was not meant to be a four-star place: I suspect they were mightily relieved when the NYT gave them three. The room is nice enough (the 4-star Lespinasse was there), but the cuisine was never scaled up to that level. If it's true, as rumored on Eater.com, that Ducasse is going to take over the Gilt space, perhaps he will try for four stars there.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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