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Will Goldfarb @ Michel Cluizel


BryanZ
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The always amiable Sultan of Sweet, Prince and Golden Boy of Pastry Will Goldfarb has set up shop at Michel Cluizel, operating at the shop's small bar. For all the of the press that seems to surround Goldfarb's every move, there have been surprisingly few reports of his pastry work by the general public in recent months. I've always been a fan of Chef Goldfarb's philosophy and creative spirit, but it had been quite some time since my visit to Room 4 Dessert at least a year ago. When I heard that Chef Goldfarb would be offering some of his work at Michel Cluizel, I cleared my calendar to make sure I would be able to stop by, going so far as choosing a restaurant for dinner whose desserts I would find unenticing enough to skip entirely.

Chef Goldfarb is cooking, hosting, and serving at small bar of about eight seats inside Michel Cluizel. To get to the bar after the shop's retail hours, one must walk through the functioning dining room of Restaurant Lucy. I found this to be a little bit awkward, but once inside what I will call Goldfarbia the entire vibe changes. I've known Chef Goldfarb through correspondence of various types and the occasional meeting over the past couple years, so while we've interacted we're not quite close friends. Nevertheless, upon entering Chef Goldfarb gave me a warm welcome and proceeded to walk me through his entire operation. Not only the nuts and bolts of where to sit, how and what to order, etc, but also his future goals for the dessert program at this location and his culinary motivation and philosophy behind the dishes on the menu. Not sure what to expect upon walking into the shop, I was perhaps expecting a busy restaurant, where Goldfarb would be working the room and catering exclusively to VIPs and friends. I instead found an intimate space where Goldfarb chatted easily with staff and guests alike. This was exactly what I had wanted and hope it maintains its charm.

Desserts are served in European sundae-style metal dishes. Think short, sleek metal martini glass. Each item is $9 (but Goldfarb mentioned he would try to bring these prices down in an attempt to maximize their commercial appeal), with total of five possible selections. There is also a $29 tasting menu that includes each of the desserts. Beverage pairings are $21. My companion and I decided to share a tasting and beverage pairing and were very pleased with what we received. As Goldfarb admits, much of the work here is not so complex as at Room 4 Dessert, but there are twists that set this work apart from that of other pastry chefs at other restaurants and dessert bars. Things open big with a simple vanilla ice cream with osetra caviar and dark chocolate. The flavor profile here is striking. I found the vanilla and caviar to be a most excellent match, especially when paired with sparkling wine. Other items included a white chocolate ice cream with a generous splash of Manni olive oil, a financier with apricot, a chocolate chantilly with earl grey sorbet and grapefruit, and a chocolate foam with espresso gelee and frothed milk. Some combinations were more complex and successful than others, but there is a clear trajectory of courses here that works quite well.

The beverage pairings across the board were very strong and diverse. I am personally less familiar with dessert/beverage pairing, and I was very impressed, perhaps even more so than by the desserts themselves. The whole evening felt like a friends and family event (literally) with industry friends and family coming by to join us during our time at the bar. Of course, such things are not likely to remain the course as Goldfarb takes on new projects or as word spreads, but for the time being this was a most unique dessert destination.

The items are also served during the shop's retail hours, and, if all goes according to the grand plan, much as one might purchase a latte while perusing the wide assortment of chocolates, one might also purchase a small dessert or an entire box to take home for a party.

Go and check it out. I'm not sure everyone will love it, as it's still in its infancy, but it certainly was exactly what I was looking for. The tasting menu and pairings are a great value and certainly enough to share.

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Bryan, can you say a bit about what was going on with the rest of the patrons? Were they grokking the concept? Part of what made R4D such a pleasure was the amiable interactions with Will and his staff; were other diners chatting with the gang?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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For those not familiar with the shop's layout, there is a bar that serves coffee, chocolates brownies, and, now, Chef Goldfarb's desserts. There are also couches where, I imagine, one can order the same things. It seemed on this night all the action was at the bar. There was a party of ladies at the couches, but I'm not even sure if they were eating desserts.

I must admit I did not know what grokking was until I looked it up, but I would say all the patrons were digging the concept. This was a very intimate evening and pretty much everyone in the restaurant knew Will at least as well as I did, so introductions were made across the board (staff, diners, support staff). Again, I doubt this vibe will continue indefinitely, but it was cool. I chatted a bit with the pastry cook, Bob, who was doing the actual plating of the items, and Chef Goldfarb's publicist-type person, so in that regard it was a very convivial and easygoing evening. It's important to qualify again, however, that these desserts are not as ambitious as those at R4D, so patrons looking for the same culinary experience may be somewhat confused.

ETA: ARE NOT not ARE

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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Bryan, did you make reservations or did you just drop by? Were there people waiting for seats at the bar? I was under the impression that Goldfarb's creations were only available at the bar.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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They may be available only at the bar. I'm not sure about that. I can't imagine he would stop you from eating on the couches after the retail shop had closed.

I tried to make reservations by emailing the Michel Cluizel retail address. That got forwarded to the gentleman in charge of Goldfarb's operation. We exchanged emails to the effect of:

BZ: I want to come. When can we do this, how can I make it happen?

RP: We're open on days XYZ, hours 123.

BZ: OK, let me make a reso.

RP: We don't take resos but should be able to accommodate you.

BZ: I don't deal well with not having plans and waiting around if it's crowded. I <3 Will.

RP: Sorry, we'll do our best.

BZ: Ok, thanks. I will be there.

Long story short, no reservations, lots of short emails. It was not crowded when I arrived By the time I left, the bar was almost full, but, as I said, it was all friends and family, so I'm not sure the vibe was typical of nights in the future.

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Stopped by Cluizel for dessert last night, and shared the tasting along with the drink pairing. The desserts when ordered individually right now are overpriced, but the dessert tasting is one heck of a deal, as is the drink pairing. It's ideally shared between 2-3 people. A couple of thoughts:

- The desserts themselves ranged from mediocre to very good. I thought the weakest dessert was the vanilla ice cream with caviar and chocolate: the ice cream completely overwhelmed the paltry sprinkling of caviar, and the chocolate chips were chalky. I would have been particularly disappointed if I had ordered this individually and had paid a $7 addition. The warm chocolate espuma with espresso jelly was very nice, and went particularly well with a dessert sherry that surprisingly picked up some of the coffee notes. The chocolate chantilly with early grey sorbet and grapefruit was probably the most interesting flavor combination of the evening, and perhaps the most reminiscent of an R4D dessert. The white chocolate with olive oil and smoked salt was just predictably delicious. I doubt that any one of these desserts will really persist in my memory, but taken as a group of five, it was a very enjoyable experience.

- Drinks in general were excellent by themselves, though the "pairings" were a little chaotic, as everything comes out in rapidfire succession (this could be because we came late as they were getting ready to close, and if so, I would not blame them). Again, the sherry was remarkable, and I'm not a big fan of sweet liquors.

- Service was fantastic, particularly since we were finishing up as they were closing. We asked about the espuma, and our server/chef actually took the time to recreate another helping of that dish in front of us, and let us have it free of charge.

---

al wang

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I'm surprised that the chocolate chips were chalky, especially given that he's in a chocolate shop!

You went last night? Sunday night? I thought he was only there Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from what I read in the NYT.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Maybe I got more caviar. It's not out of the question, but I thought that pairing was actually my favorite of the night. I do agree, however, that the chocolate seemed a bit discordant. Perhaps a grating of chocolate would've been better. To me the chocolate component was what overwhelmed the dish. I kind of went at it separately--ice cream and caviar, ice cream and chocolate.

The earl grey sorbet is so nice and subtle.

Will said he prefers to bring out all the drinks at once. It lets you try them across the board and mix things up. If this was fine-dining I would say it's just way too much to put down at once. Given the casual, somewhat experimental nature of the place I liked being able to try everything.

Picnick is closed for now, I believe, but will reopen in the spring under Chef Goldfarb again.

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They're open to midnight on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, but they close at 7PM along with the Cluizel shop on Sundays. (To accomodate, we basically had sweets first, then we went to Chicken BonChon for a Korean fried chicken dessert. :raz: ) We also didn't see Will, so it's possible he's only there Thursday-Saturday.

I was surprised that the chocolate was chalky as well. They were also hard to eat, as they were flat little discs at the bottom of the dish that were difficult to get at with a spoon. It's possible we got less caviar because they were simply running low at the end of the day. On the flip side, they ran out of a bottle of a dessert sherry, and ended up given us a pour of an entirely different (though also tasty) sherry, while comping us the half pour of the first one. Very gracious. Also, I should note that the alcohol pours in general were very generous.

---

al wang

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just called and they serve the desserts all day. 10am to midnight on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. 11am to 7pm on Sundays.

BUT Mr. Goldfarb is only there in the evenings, from about 8 to midnight on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. He's not there on Sundays.

I wonder if there is any quality dropdown in the desserts when Goldfarb isn't there in person.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Quality in desserts, unlikely. They're simple, component-driven items.

Quality of experience, likely. Will makes the experience, as he did at R4D. It depends if you're looking for that kind of thing. Some people won't be (i.e., the shops daytime patrons), so no loss.

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  • 5 months later...

Does anyone know if Goldfarb is still active and involved in running the Dessert Studio, or has it become another (name-)branded "kiosk?" If Goldfarb is still actively involved, does anyone know when he's more likely to be in? Evenings? Weekends?

“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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Consistent with what kathryn said above, Will has been there when I've stopped in Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. He *might* also be there at other hours (I've run into him on off-hours and one Sunday afternoon), but I think those are the days of the week on which he's consistently present.

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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