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Wilfrid

Atelier

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A new restaurant in the Ritz Carlton on CPS, with a former Jean Georges chef de cuisine in the kitchen. I griped about an unintelligible review in the New Yorker in the Media forum. I wonder if anyone has tried it yet or heard good things about it?

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Atelier also have a very good pastry chef: Jean-François Bonnet formerly of Cello.

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I'd appreciate any available input on Atelier.

In the July/August 2002 edition of Food Arts, there are indications that pastry chef Jean-Francois Bonnet, formerly of Cello, is now at Atelier. The update describes Bonnet's signature dessert of peanut butter ice cream with rice krispies, chocolate leaves and condensed milk cappuccino. :wink:

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Atelier, which opened earlier this year with a former Jean-Georges chef-de-cuisine, Gabriel Kreuther, in the kitchen, is located in the Ritz Carlton on Central Park South. With no separate entrance, and decked out in the global Ritz Carlton livery of soft greens and beiges, the restaurant lacks its own style. But there's some skillful cooking going on.

Service here is formal and correct, but we recognized our waiter, who we had liked a lot when he worked at D'Artagnan. Atelier has inherited a D'Artagnan captain too. The menu is fairly brief - $70 for three courses prix fixe. There's a $95 tasting menu, but since that excluded some of the more interesting dishes we ordered from the carte.

The two stand out items were the langoustines and the squab. New Zealand langoustines, apparently, large and earthy (good), served grilled over the neatest, tidiest, least raggedy soft poached egg you can imagine. Each langoustine was anointed by the waiter with a spoonful of something which looked like caviar but which was a fine brunoise of pineapple moistened with balsamic vinegar. A chunk of the shellfish, coated with the brunoise and dipped in the egg yolk provided a deeply satisfying bolus of tastes and textures.

Weary of the roast beef/rack of lamb/squab in a wine reduction with a few odd garnishes which have become routine on upscale restaurant menus, it was refrshing to come across a made dish which actually sought to work a transformation on the squab. The breasts were sliced and layered with foie gras, wrapped in Savoy cabbage, then cooked in a Moroccan-style brique pastry. The resulting, er, pie I suppose, was opened at the table to display the lovely pattern of the filling. The breast meat was rare the foie gras molten, the cabbage soft, and the pastry case perfectly crisp. Good work. The squab's legs were roasted and served on a side plate with a little salad.

These were the highlights. The other dishes were creditable. Neatly seared foie gras (and a surprisingly generous tranche, at that), poached chicken with tarragon and the kind of pommes purees where the potatoes almost vanish within the butter and cream (not my favorite kind). To follow, the same kind of cheeseboard you will find at most of the French restaurants in New York which bother - very predictable but adquately well-kept. I wonder why American restaurants here are better at cheese?

The wine list? Dramatically top heavy, I thought. The mark-ups may be fair, but the sheer quantity of bottles in the $200 plus range was perturbing. I found a patchy vertical of the Grange at atmospheric prices. Turning to the Spanish list for light relief, I stumbled over a vertical of Vega Sicilia, also outlandishly expensive. Not enough decent bottles even in the $90 to $100 region. A pity. The clientele the evening we dined were mostly wealthy people of a certain age, groomed and bejewelled, and maybe that's the market for that kind of wine list.

But good eating.

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I think there may have been a few unoccupied tables, but certainly the dining room was reasonably busy.

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Michael -- I have not yet visited Atelier. However, below is an earlier thread on Atelier:

http://forums.egullet.org/ibf/index.php?s=...8002&hl=atelier

Atelier also have a very good pastry chef: Jean-François Bonnet formerly of Cello.
I'd appreciate any available input on Atelier.

In the July/August 2002 edition of Food Arts, there are indications that pastry chef Jean-Francois Bonnet, formerly of Cello, is now at Atelier. The update describes Bonnet's signature dessert of peanut butter ice cream with rice krispies, chocolate leaves and condensed milk cappuccino.  :wink:

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I deeply regret not sampling desserts. My Beloved baulked on dietary grounds and I was suffering from a severe cheese craving. If it had been just me, I would have managed cheese and dessert. Next time maybe.

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The new Gourmet (with the surprise turkey cover :laugh: ) has a review of Atelier. Jonathan Gold follows meekly in my footsteps, largely concurring with my views, and similarly singling out the superb pigeon pie - nice little pic of it too.

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The new Gourmet (with the surprise turkey cover  :laugh: ) has a review of Atelier.  Jonathan Gold follows meekly in my footsteps, largely concurring with my views, and similarly singling out the superb pigeon pie - nice little pic of it too.

I, too, was surprised by the turkey cover. Daring on all fronts indeed.

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There's hardly any point to my adding to Wilfrid's post. We had lunch but ordered a la carte which gave us most of the dinner choices. That squab dish is a knockout. I had sweetbreads where were very good or better. They were peobably not the best sweetbreads I have ever had, but they were very well cooked in great style. The were served with greens and celery. If I tell you they were studded with perserved lemon and had capers in the sauce, you wince and suspect a sour flavor to the dish. It was there in the most subtle form. It's a fine dish, but the squab and foe gras croustillant was the winner and I think a must have. Portions, at least if you order a la carte at lunch are large and my wife skipped dessert and I had a light and refreshing dessert with fresh oranges and sabayon. It hit the spot. My wife had the squash soup off the prix fixe menu and I had a cold dish that was as almost as intricate as the squab dish. Quail praline was a rare boneless breast of quail and foie warpped in a tight ball covered with spinach. I think it was spinach. There was also a scattering of perfect sixteenth of an inch cubes of what I believe were marinated mushrooms. possibly cepes on top of the "praline" which reinforced the sense of candy. It looked like a bonbon more than the meaty thing it was. the very neatly trimmed and almost crunchy drumsticks were sitting with a bit of herb salad between the quail ball and some chopped truffle aspic. I didn't taste the soup, but the aroma spoke well for it.

Depending on your point of view, the restaurant is off a hotel lobby, or the large and elegant, if not my taste, lobby serves as the foyer for the restaurant. It's all quite plush and upscale. The restaurant unike the period lobby, though lord knows what period particularly with the eerie paintings on the side walls, is also wood panelled, but in a modern style. The art work was not always to my taste in spite of that. Good food even for $72 at dinner and a bit less a la carte at lunch, but there was a prix fixe I'd like to try that was much less. I can't remember exactly, but 2, 3 or 4 courses for somewhere in the mid thirties and mid forties. Not exactly the same dishes, to be sure, but I suspect the same level of care and competence. Very solicitous service. The restaurant was probably less than half full at lunch. I had my back to the room, my wife was sitting on a banquette. I'd say it has the potential of a four star place and given recent criticisms here of the top restaurants may already be competition for most places at the top. My resevations are mainly based on the fact that I can't judge consistency on two dishes and one visit. It certainly aims at being in that league in terms of the look and feel of the room and menu. Good spacing between tables, or so we thought. I realize I might have to revise that opinion when the room was full.

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My curiosity piqued by Patrice's reference to the frog leg soup, right here, I had a return bout with Atelier recently, and fairly knocked the bell (as Liebling would say).

In addition to a regular tasting menu, they are now offering a long chef's tasting menu at $128. Since the soup and the pie were listed, I opted this way and, after independently inserting a cheese plate, ate about twelve or thirteen courses - the largest meal I have eaten in a restaurant for some time.

I continue to resist taking notes at table and wrestling copies of the menu from the maitre d', so there's a caveat on the details; but this is more or less what I ingested:

Smoked trout canape.

Layers of goat cheese and smoked salmon wrapped in, I think, leek (like a slice of terrine).

Boneless quail and a boiled quail egg, wrapped in Boston greens pricked witha balck truffle brunoise, quail leg, black truffle jelly, salad.

Carpaccio of scallops and blue fin tune with ostera caviar and a balsamic reduction.

Seared Hudson Valley foie gras garnished with grapefruit.

Peasant soup with frog's legs.

Turbot with black truffles and black truffle sauce.

Maine lobster with eleven herbs, ramps, boiled potatoes.

Moroccon croustillante of squab, foie gras and Savoy cabbage.

Ticklebourne, Pierre Robert, Livarot, Stilton.

Small glasses of orange jelly with cream, chilled coconut soup and Granny Smith apple soup.

Marinated poached pair with ice cream.

Chocolates and petits fours.

Sparing you a blow by blow account, the only poor dish was the lobster, which was well-flavored but too chewy. Everything else was of a high standard.

Of particular interest: that amazing quail dish. The quail and egg wrapped in greens, studded with pieces of black truffle looked like a comic-book land mine; terrific mouthfuls; the black truffle jelly needed more oomph.

The peasant soup is cheeky. The frog leg soup at Jean-Georges - from memory - consists of a creamy, garlic-scented veloute with deep-fried (on the bone) frog legs. Here, Kreuther, coming out of J-G's kitchen, offers a hearty broth, thickened with bread, I suspect, thickly populated with small filets of frog leg. A bold dish to put on a pricey tasting menu, but very successful.

The squab pie has been discussed before. Architecturally accomplished, and a great contrast of textures as well as flavors.

The cheese selection is not at the Artisanal level, but is interesting and well-kept. Amazed to find the British goat cheese, Ticklebourne, available. The restaurant is proud of its cheese.

Wine highlight was a 1999 Vosne Romanee 1er Cru, "Les Suchots". Good news for non-millionaires is that the '99's do seem to be drinking well. This had soft tannins and very distinct Burgundy character. I'll leave it to the experts to tell you whether this means the vintage has no legs. The sommelier confirmed my impression that there are now a lot more wines on the list below $70, eliminating one complaint from my first visit (no, this wasn't one of them).

They are serving around sixty seven covers here, and the restaurant is not always full. Nevertheless, there are three captains and a sommelier, and one has the sense that the kitchen is concentrating on the plates it is sending out; this is not a conveyor belt. The dishes intended to be hot were hot. Service is at the highest-level. It's still a shame about dull the room and the cheapo tables.

Bottom line - Atelier is making a serious and now very convincing pitch to be considered in the top rank of NYC restaurants. I praise Kreuther for doing so without following the pack. He composes a menu of interesting, unusual, carefully constructed dishes; is not afraid of textures and heartiness; and understands that there's more to fine dining than searing a lump of protein, bunging it in the oven, and squirting some foam on top.

Love the place. Damn, it's expensive.

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Peaking up from sub-zero temps, I have to ask: ramps? Ramps? As ramps are wild and usually picked in spring time in Michigan and NY state, I have to wonder where are they finding ramps this time of year? Cause I'd like some, too, please. :smile:

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Ah yes, that did occur to me at the time, and then I forgot to ask. This is why Bill Grimes has the job, not me.

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British goat cheese, Ticklebourne

"Ticklebourne" is now my favorite cheese name. Ticklebourne Ticklebourn Ticklebourne. Lovely.

Wilfred: I've never heard of it. What's it like?

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I tried a web search for more information, but getting no results with variations of the spelling makes me worried I may have got that lovely name wrong. Sounds familiar to me though? Anyone else heard of it.

In any case, it was a fairly large, round goat cheese shaped a bit like a muffin, with a distinctive ridge around the perimeter about half way up (is this helping)? They were serving slices from it. It wasn't a stinky goat cheese by any means, but it was well-flavored (so much for my cheese vocabulary).

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