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flinflon28

Corton (Formerly Montrachet)

133 posts in this topic

According to the article it sounds like Paul will tone down his approach to pushing the boundaries. This has now vaulted to the top of my must visit restaurants when it opens. I hope that it will be open by mid-September for the Starchefs International Chefs Congress.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I love the name. It gives reference and honor to its predecessor, but announces that it will be its own restaurant.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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www.cortonnyc.com

That will be the restaurant's website. It is not currently up as they are still working on the content, but has a homepage with some info.


Edited by The Flame (log)

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any updates on this place. when, are they close to opening or are they getting delayed.

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any updates on this place. when, are they close to opening or are they getting delayed.

It's practically unheard of for a restaurant to open on time in NY. Always add at least three months to the projected opening date (and usually more)

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There has been no word, but Nieporent has a reputation for opening places on time. It was promised for August, which would be perfect timing insofar as a fall review cycle is concerned.


Edited by oakapple (log)

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I know that Paul Liebrandt will do everything he can to be open in time for the Starchefs ICC in mid-September. Of course, the timing is not just up to the chef!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I think an August date is realistic. Things are advancing in the construction process. I think Doc is right too, starchefs will be a very good time to be open.

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NY Mag now says "late September"...which means they have a shot of opening in October.

like I said.....

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Corton opens to the public tomorrow. Prix fixe menu at $76. Tasting menu at $110, based mainly on the dishes from the prix fixe menu.

I stopped by to check out the room last week and will say that it looks rather white. Will report when I visit for a full meal next week.

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What is interesting is that there already appears to be some changes in the mix. The original tasting menu I received via fax culled nearly all of its savory dishes (save for the ocean trout ballotine) from the prix fixe menu. oakapple reports on MF, however, that the tasting menu actually has different dishes. Tricksy.

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Bryan,

any info on desserts?

What Robert Truitt is up to?

Thanks!


2317/5000

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Nearly three years ago I had one of the defining meals of my life at Gilt. It was among the best I've had in the States, and, though I did not realize it at the time, my first introduction to what I now consider contemporary European-style fine-dining. Although many lamented Gilt's supposedly high prices, given today's exchange rate and the level of cooking the restaurant now even seems like a bargain. I maintain that Gilt, perhaps more so than any other restaurant in the States I've been to, evoked the cooking and sense of culinary discovery one feels in modern restaurants in Spain and France.

I admit I may be putting the restaurant on a pedestal, but immediately after my meal at the beginning of 2006 I wrote:

All in all, Gilt is an excellent restaurant.  $92 for "3"-courses is on par with the cities most exclusive dining destinations, but this meal included more courses and much greater range than tasting menus I've had at both Jean Georges and Daniel.  I'm not saying that Gilt is explicitly better than either of those venerable NYC dining institutions but on this night it seemed to rise above its more established brethren.  My sister remarked that Gilt seems to encompass some of the whimsy of wd-50 while capturing the bold flavors of JG and the elegance of Daniel.

I had planned to return to celebrate a special occasions several months later but found out the Chef Liebrandt and the restaurant had parted ways mere days before my appointed reservation. To say I was devastated might be a bit of an overstatement, but I've since become borderline obsessed with Chef Liebrandt's career moves, waiting until his next venue would arrive.

With that said, my meal at Corton tonight would be bitter/sweet, though thankfully with more of the latter than the former. I still wish Chef Liebrandt had carte blanche to blow the dining public away with stratospherically priced 20-course tasting menus that challenge the way we think about food. Alinea was the last restaurant to do this and no one has stepped up to the plate since. I firmly believe, however, that Chef Liebrandt has this culinary ability. Then again, I feel as though I might be one of the few out there who would buy into this kind of experience (literally and figuratively, of course), and it is perhaps better that we have Corton, a restaurant of the here and now.

Corton retains a sense of bold understatement. Others have commented on how bare the room seems--at first, I agreed, but I now think it fits the culinary aesthetic--and how minimalist the entire experience is. There is little of the over-the-top opulence that defined (again, literally and figuratively) Gilt under Chef Liebrandt's rein. This restaurant, in contrast, presents a more measured rendition of contemporary fine-dining in 2008.

As the restaurant is still in its infancy, it's not clear where it will ultimately end up. A Montrachet plaque still rests in the door frame of the restaurant's main entrance, and it will be interesting to see how the ghost of Corton's legendary, if much more traditional, forebearer will influence its future direction. To address a couple things, although Gael Greene's blog suggests otherwise, Mondays are not BYOB as they were at Montrachet. I called, asked, and was shut down. Also, the staff largely seems all new. Service was very good, but the movement on the floor can be better described as nervously perky than smooth and poised. This will surely work itself out in coming weeks.

So, onto the food, and more pictures of Chef Liebrandt/Chef Truitt food porn than one probably cares to see.

Menus

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The three of us opted for the tasting menu and effectively asked Chef Liebrandt to send out whatever he wanted. In the end, we generally adhered to the printed menu with a few generous additions here and there. Chef Liebrandt also came out to say hello at the beginning of the meal, a gesture I really appreciated.

Place setting

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Very understated but elegant. There were none of the dramatically oblong Bauscher stems that set the tone at Gilt; instead very nice but small crystal water glasses.

Gougeres and olive cake

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The gougeres were filled with a creamy Mornay sauce. Classic and delicious. The olive cake was savory and tasted overwhelmingly of olives. A nice juxtaposition of opening bites.

Butter

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Unsalted and a salted seaweed butter. The latter would be the first of many exposures to ocean-like salinity in this meal.

Egg yolk bagel with caviar

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The first of two amuse bouche. The texture wasn't quite bagel-like, more like a light cake or very thick blini. In the depression was what I believe was some kind of lightly poached egg yolk that was just on the firm side of creamy. A nice, salty opening bite.

Broccoli puree, beausoleil oyster, salt cod soup

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The broccoli was at the bottom of the bowl, topped with the oyster, topped with some form of soft crouton, topped with the foamed soup. This was an unusual combination of ingredients that was a home run.

The two amuse bouche, with bread

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No Manni oil this time around. Sadness.

One can see how Chef Liebrandt seems to be building the progression of the meal. We're starting with dishes that taste of salt and of the sea. This would continue into the next two courses. I also found it hard to ignore very clear Japanese influences in these opening dishes.

Uni, konbu glee, cauliflower

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A striking dish, with the orange urchin roe, firm black gelee, and creamy cauliflower beneath. The gelee acts as a cap that you almost have to break through to mix all the components of the dish.

Ocean trout ballotine, white sturgeon caviar, sake creme

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I thought the quality of fish in this dish was top-notch. The menu description lists sake creme but the server described the clear, gelatinous sauce at the bottom of this plate as another type of konbu gelee. It certainly tasted Japanese and was more delicate than the gelee with the previous dish. This dish reminded me of something one might get at Soto. Again, the fish was great, and I really enjoyed this, but would've liked a bit more acid than the single peeled grape brought to the dish.

Scallop, uni creme, radish, marcona almond

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This dish was sent out by Chef Liebrandt at this junction in the meal, and I can see why it's a perfect transition from raw seafood to cooked. The scallop is not hard seared as is the trend at too many restaurants. Lightly cooked, I enjoyed this dish a bit more than those that preceded it. The uni creme was the perfect sauce, distinctive without being overwhelming. The radishes, also a nice, acidic faintly bitter garnish. I apologize for the quality of this photo.

Amadai, black garlic, serrano ham, citrus-coconut broth

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While this restaurant might be called French, this dish left the flavors of Japan for those of Thailand. First, great cooking on the fish from a technical standpoint. Props. Then all the interesting accouterments. Where to start? Well, there's this side dish of perfect gnocchi with barely crunch baby bok choy and shavings of ham. Then, there's the rim of the bowl. An impossibly smooth roasted garlic puree is topped with a single clove of black garlic. A bit of further research finds, fittingly enough, a brief overview of the ingredient on Ideas in Food. Then we have this citrus-coconut broth that evokes tom yam soup. This dish was perhaps a bit lacking in common thread, especially between the gnocchi and fish itself, but was especially delicious. As much as I liked the uni and trout, I liked the cooked seafood dishes more.

Apple-wasabi sorbet, powdered coconut, olive oil

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A riff on what I guess is a Liebrandt classic. A nice, building heat as you work your way down the cup. I wanted more olive oil, however. You need a fair amount to stand up to the assertive sorbet.

For main courses, two of us received the lamb, as listed on the menu, and one instead opted for the squab on the a la carte menu.

From a design perspective, I quite enjoyed these Laguiole knives. Apparently, they were designed especially for Chef Liebrandt and he is the only chef in the States to have them right now.

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Very much an updated classic with an understated masculinity.

Squab, chestnut creme, smoked bacon, pain d'epices milk

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What you have here is what I believe was the squab's breast wrapped in a very thin sheath of bacon. On top is the spiced milk-jus. Very autumnal. Off the side is the squab's leg sitting atop the chestnut creme. To me, this tasted less of chestnut and more like black truffle. I'm guessing some kind of truffle product was in use. On top of the leg was what seemed to be a large hunk of disturbingly pleasant pork fat. It was a bit firm and perhaps there's a technical term for this that I'm not familiar with, but it all worked.

Elysian Fields lamb loin, braised neck, ras el hanout, chocolate-mint jus

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I really liked this plate. Well composed, and the lamb was just beautiful. We were also served this lamb belly rillete on the side. I'll confess I was a little bit worried about the jus upon reading the menu. I'm all for the sweet-savory thing, but I didn't want this to veer into cloying candy territory. Thankfully, it did not, and the jus was interesting yet understated. The focus here is amazing quality lamb. Definitely the best lamb dish in recent memory, surpassing a couple similar dishes in Europe.

This would mark the end of the savory portion of the meal. Now, to onslaught of cheese and desserts!

Selles-sur-cher, sour cherry pate de fruit, chickpea dentil

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The cheese and sour cherry were a great combination. The cherry itself really evoked red wine, so this was an interesting and fitting pairing. I was kind of indifferent to the chickpea cracker, though one at my table actively didn't care for it.

Lychee sorbet, lime soup, honeycrisp apple, crispy shiso

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A nice, refreshing pre-dessert. I perhaps wanted a bit more lime, but then again that could've thrown the dish out of balance. The honeycrisp apples seemed to be lightly cooked or, more likely, cold cooked via vacuum. They added nice bits of texture to the dish.

White sesame creme, lemon honey, huckleberry, salted toffee

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This was the favorite dessert of the evening. Such a beautiful plate, very Spanish in presentation aesthetic. The sesame custard suggested Asia but the garnishes pulled this dish in every which direction to compelling effect. I think I most enjoyed the meringue and the threads of salty toffee throughout.

Gianduja palette, yuzu, coconut

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A lighter take on your typical gianduja dessert you might see at the likes of Insieme or other contemporary Italian restaurants. Here, the gianduja component takes on a mousse-like form. In this dessert this acidic yuzu component was very assertive, to the dish's overall benefit, I think.

Chef Liebrandt then sent out two more desserts for the three of us to share. I don't have a copy of the dessert menu, so my descriptions may not be entirely accurate.

Chocolat fondant, chestnut, milk ice cream, red pepper jelly

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Another striking plate. The color contrast and height differential convey a sense of action and activity to this dessert. Flavor-wise this was perhaps our least favorite--it is, after all, just a warm chocolate cake--but the combination of milk ice cream with pepper jelly was bizarrely appropriate.

"Like a toad-in-the-hole," salted brioche, passion fruit, banana, stilton

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Very cute, almost Wylie-esque. The passion fruit curd and the strong salting on the bread worked well. The cheese picked up both the sweet and salty aspects of this dessert.

Finally, petits fours and the like.

Macaroons, chocolates, and truffles

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Up to this point we cleaned every plate and put away a decent amount of bread too. I was up to trying a few items, but my two dining companions opted to have their sweets wrapped up. Nice bags were provided.

So, all in all, a great meal. This is not the return of Gilt-under-Liebrandt but something else entirely. Although my tastes still skew to the big, brash, and grand, I can see how many might prefer this restaurant more. It's more accessible, more affordable, and feels adventurous while still using local ingredients that play into the dining public's general ethos of the time. My only general concerns with regard to the cooking have to do with the use of salt and the redundancy of a couple ingredients. A couple dishes pushed the edges of the salt frontier. I think this could've been magnified by the fact that nearly all of the opening had some overtly salty component that went beyond the basic seasoning of the dish. I'm willing to look past some the redundancy, as it seems to me the restaurant's menu is still somewhat in flux as dishes are fine-tuned. Also, ingredients like uni are generally crowd-pleasers, and the chestnuts that surfaced a couple times strongly evoke seasonality so I'm not sure this is any cause for concern. I have the utmost faith in Chef Liebrandt's creativity and only hope that he'll continue to push the envelope for those of us who are up to the challenge. For me, exposure to black garlic was a great example of this.

In the end, this restaurant is a strong three-star contender. A real three-star player--not a Bruni-Italian-place-abomination--along the lines of EMP, the Modern, wd~50, Ko, and Jean-Georges. I think the most apt comparison culinarily speaking, however, is EMP. While Chef Humm stays more grounded in Europe, I see parallels across each chef's work. While one room is perhaps overly grand, the other is almost purposefully understated. As of now, Corton is the more affordable and generally more exciting option. Again, it will be interesting to see how the restaurant matures and solidifies its identity. Nevertheless, that I'm mentioning the restaurant in the company of perhaps my favorite restaurants in the city is certainly no faint praise.


Edited by BryanZ (log)

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Brilliant report, Bryan. Thanks. I'm hoping to get there myself in early November.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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excellent, thanks Bryan.


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Bryan, if we might ask, how much extra did they charge you for this “extended” tasting menu?

Gilt under Liebrandt may well have been the best restaurant to open in New York since Per Se. Unfortunately, it opened right into the teeth of the Bruni–Platt era, and its overall excellence was not recognized by the city's two most prominent critics. It may also have been a tactical error to open with prices at the Jean Georges level right out of the gate.

Drew Nieporent is too canny to repeat that mistake. Still, in tough economic times it's refreshing to see that restaurants like this can still make an appearance. I suspect that Liebrandt will become more adventurous over time after Corton settles in and makes a name for itself. Gilt was gunning for four stars, but this is much more of a three-star concept—not that we can take that for granted as long as Bruni and Platt are still around.

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Thank you Bryan, for some great pix and reporting!

I agree with both you and oakapple that maybe Liebrandt will stretch out after awhile but damn, it's already looking and sounding great.

Robert Truitt's desserts look really playful & engaging while the flavors mentioned seem extremely enticing.

Can't wait to read more!

Thanks again.


2317/5000

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