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Aureole


robert brown
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Steven, after a couple of beers, it's time to get serious. Here's something for you and anyone else. During tonight's episode of "Survivor" I began thinking about Aureole. It's a place nobody on e-Gullet ever recommends or writes about. A couple of years ago I had a meal so unexceptional that I never even considered giving it a second try. Shortly after I went, Grimes demoted it to two stars; one of his best calls. I can't remember what I ate, but do recall a cramped, tasteless room and a distinct lack of warmth or consideration from the waiters and sommelier. Palmer was there in the kitchen as well. What is there about this place that still keeps it in the top ten food-wise in the Zagat (other than how one feels about the Zagat Guides), yet which our posting cognescenti seems to have forgotten about?

(Edited by robert brown at 11:04 pm on Oct. 25, 2001)

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First, in defense of the restaurant: I can't recall whether it was before or after the review, but around that time Aureole underwent a major renovation and reinvestment effort. More recently, Jerry Hayden was named executive chef. William Grimes wrote a relatively flattering piece about it in the September 14 "Diner's Journal" last month.

Second, assuming for the sake of argument that Aureole is still the lame place it was under Charlie Palmer for 13 years, I refuse to believe you're so naive as to be surprised at the persistence of a mediocre restaurant. Indeed if memory serves correctly it was in that very review that William Grimes coined the phrase "The Zagat Effect," which I later used as the title for an essay explaining all that is ridiculous about the survey. If you look at the Zagat 50-favorites list, you will find that Aureole is not the only has-been in there: What about the Four Seasons, Cafe des Artistes, One if by Land, Lutece, Felidia, and even for crying out loud Carmine's? I'm looking at last year's list, but you get the idea.

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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Aureole is also a Relais Gourmand. This is a fairly prestigious group of restaurants. Certainly elegance and luxury count a lot, but the Relais Gourmands are generally all Michelin starred in France. (The Relais Chateaux need not have award winning food.) This group includes such American restaurants as The French Laundry, Charlie Trotter and in NYC, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Daniel and Aureole. Neither The Four Seasons, Cafe des Artistes, One if by Land, Lutece, Felidia, and certainly not Carmine's are Relais Gourmands.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Steven, I didn't mean survival literally. It was just a way to express my feeling that culinary life in NY could well go on without missing a beat without it. Also, the other restaurants you mention have, for the most part, a sense of history or deep association with dining in NY that I don't think Aureole has even if those restaurants are living off past glory. Did Grimes indicate that he had gone back to Aureole or was the piece like the one he did for Bid, in which you couldn't tell if he had been there or not? (I suppose another review is imminent). Until then, I see nothing to defend until the results of the culinary aspects of the changes are in. Of course if I had know about a potential second life for the place, I probably wouldn't have bothered with the post. Also, who is Jerry Hayden? Maybe he could give me a better meal than Palmer did.

As for Bux's post, Relais & Chateaux has so dropped its standards over the past 25 years that I am not surprised at anything that gets into the association.

(Edited by robert brown at 9:20 am on Oct. 26, 2001)

(Edited by robert brown at 11:07 am on Oct. 26, 2001)

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I'll certainly agree that I've raised an eyebrow or two (if you grant me that I have two eyebrows) at some of the properties that have been accepted into Relais & Chateaux of late.

You can read William Grimes's recent "Diner's Journal" piece on Aureole here.

You can read a biography of Gerry Hayden (please forgive my earlier misspelling of his first name) here.

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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  • 6 months later...

I had a poor lunch at Aureole recently. The cuisine was not appealing, and the service was sub-par. The price was rather reasonable, with a four-course monthly "Market Luncheon" priced at $35 (no choices available for any non-dessert course; significant choice of dessert; $55 with wine pairings for the three non-dessert courses). However, if the cuisine does not make the grade, price becomes irrelevant.  :confused:

May Market Luncheon

(1) Chesapeake Crab with Tiny Asparagus, bouillabaisse gelee -- The crab strands placed in a mound in this dish were bland, and not particularly fresh tasting (although I would not say they were intrinsically poor in quality).  A large shrimp, with the shell removed, was included in the dish and it too was bland and so-so. There was a green-colored olive oil infused with herbs in the saucing, and a yellow-colored gelee of bouillabaisse that did not bring to mind the intensity one would expect of a well-executed bouillabaisse. The yellow color likely came from saffron. This was paired with Riseling, Kabinet, Gynasium, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1999.

(2) Roasted Black Sea Bass, confit of ramps, golden beet reduction -- It is a poor reflection on the meal that the best dish of the meal was a so-so sea bass dish. Note I do not particularly like ramps. The fairly thick golden beet reduction was a bit too sweet for my liking, and the other component of the saucing, a thinner beetroot reduction, did not alleviate this. The bass was appropriately prepared. Overall, an average, properly executed dish. This was paired with a white from Southern France.

(3) Shallot Crusted Veal Loin, parmesan flan, braised Oregon morels -- This dish was poor. Not only was the veal overcooked (the cooking level described to me was medium rare, but the flesh was more cooked than medium), thereby producing a harsher texture and contributing to the toughness of the meat, but the morels had an unusual sense in the mouth of having been coated with something (I am not indicating they had been).  The red wine reduction was mundane, although the parmesan flan (soft, with a thin pastry disc on top) was passable.  The Nuits St-Georges offered with this dish was more enjoyable than the food.

(4) Aureole Desserts -- I took in a dessert featuring three different components: (a) a terrine of angle food cake and lemon cream, served in medium-sized triangular slices (this was fine, although not sufficiently tart for my subjective tastes), (b) a lemon-thyme flan (the creme caramel type -- below-average), and © blueberry sorbet (too starkly flavored).  Overall, nothing special.

"Service" and other Background

The decor is fine. I liked the burgundy-brown carpets near the entryway, and have always liked the upstairs part of the restaurant better. The day of visit, I was seated near the railing in the upstairs area. This was to offer amusing opportunities for embarassing restaurant experiences. For some reason, I spilled a glass over the railings onto the ground floor entryway. (The railings are next to open space which is near the large etchings on the restaurant's walls of swans). Some of the (thankfully, white) wine became absorbed by the carpet, but other amounts of it spilled onto marble. Concerned that other diners would slip from the liquid and preferring that a large napkin be placed over the spill on my table, I immediately notified the maitre d' in a calm manner. I do not remember such a significant spill with vertical effects having occurred to me. I did not feel embarassed because spills occur to everybody, but the dining room team members were not particularly speedy in placing a napkin over the spill on the table and cleaning up the liquid on the marble. It took more than 15 minutes literally.

The service is below-average, in my book, for a restaurant at this type of level. The captain (of the upstairs area, at least) had a smug attitude, although it may not have been intended (?).  Service deficiencies observed included (1) a server whose English was so heavily accented that I could not understand the ingredients in a dish he was describing (note I fully support the inclusion of minorities on dining room teams; however, their English should be screened for adequacy), (2) the same server having switched the veal dishes of me and my dining companion (which had been cooked to different levels) and then, again, my espresso with my dining companion's regular coffee, (3) the inability of the server pouring the wine to address what grapes were included in its production, (4) lack of generosity in not repouring the glass of wine I had spilled (admittedly, only one glass of wine is offered per course; however, courtesy would suggest the repouring), (5) the maitre d' knowing nothing about champagnes (e.g., Delamotte is included in the wine list, and the maitre d' did not know this producer's affiliation with Salon -- I wonder whether he knew of Salon), and (6) the utilization of a pepper grinder held more than 20 cm above the plate of an adjacent table's diner.

Average wine list for a restaurant of its standing, with respect to champagne and white Burgundies.  White Burgundy selection included 1/2 Corton Charlemagne, Bonneau de Martray 1996 for $100, and full (?) Chassagne-Montrachet, Cailleret, J. Gagnard 1998 for $75.  Reds included a La Mission Haut-Brion 1994 for $200.

NY 2002 Prix Fixe

Note Aureole's NY 2002 prix fixe was listed as follows. The meal is $20.02, and is available year round for lunch only.  

-- Chilled Asparagus Soup, lemon, black pepper and parmesan, or

Artichoke and Farro "Risotto", basil emulsion

-- Sauteed Skate with Curred Tomato Vinaigrette, spiced couscous and mache leaves, or

Slow-Braised Veal Ravioli, grilled shiitake mushrooms, pea shoots

-- Blackberry Cream Napoleon, lemon grass sorbet, or

Milk Chocolate Torte, vanilla ice cream sandwich

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I had a poor lunch at Aureole recently.

Can you really have any other kind at Aureole?  I have had several meals there (all business, and none but the first by choice) and have never had an even remotely satisfactory meal.  The service is competent, but only to the extent that food is brought to the table without being dropped.  I can remember one laughable example when a dining companion asked for "skim milk" for his coffee, and was given "heavy cream."

Moreover, the food lacks flavor, depth, and originality.  But it sure looks pretty on the plate!

There has never been a restaurant so undeservedly praised.  The best thing Aureole could serve, in my opinion, is notice of closing.

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mogsob -- Thanks for your input.  :wink:

On the NY 2002 lunch at Aureole, members should note it is only available from 2:00 p.m. onwards. It is unclear to me whether the menu for the NY2002 lunch may change over time.

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  • 1 year later...

Well, as they say, better late than never.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Aureole with 2 of my closest friends. Upon arriving I was greeted by a very friendly hostess ( not always common, especially in my experience on the upper east side). I went to the bar and knowing that it was my birthday, the bar tender made me a birthday drink called a wildflower, which he said was on him. What a nice start.

I dont like to start on a negative note bc everything about dinner was perfect food wise, I just wasnt very impressed by the space. There was no "wow" upon entering the restaurant like at Jean George or Chanterelle. But that aside, I ll move onto the food.

for the first course, I chose the Hudson Valley Foie Gras with crisp pancetta, baked golden delicious apples, and sour cherries. My first foie gras experience was at last years birthday dinner at Fleur de Sel. AFter that, I fell in love.

the combination of the different ingredients was just so perfect. i love the sweetness of the apples with the foie gras that just melted, and then the subtle tartness of the cherries topped it off so nicely.

I had a bite of my friends Peeky toe crah , green apple salad with mangos, watercress and lime oil and it was very nice. everthing was incredibly fresh lots of bright flavors. The crisp seared duck confit with warm celery root and black trumpet salad was wonderful though incredibly rich.

for the 2nd course, I chose the Duo of beef filet mignon and short rib with creamy horseradish pototo puree and baby turnips.

Again an excellent choice. Very flavorful meat, perfectly rare and the short ribs were so tender they fell off the bone, the potatoes were nice,i cant really recall the horseradish in them and I always love turnips

my 2 friends both got the six spice roasted and braised pork with baby bok choy, mango tempura and spicy yuzo.

I tried some of this but cant really describe it, though the mango tempura was one of them yummiest things i ve ever eaten. fried mango! wow

and then of course dessert, for people on the list who know me, i love for this....

I chose the caramelized hazelnut pyramid with warm bittersweet chocolate praline sauce and frozen praline custard- Do i REALLY need to say how amazing this was. it wall went together so well, the sweet hazelnut pyramid with the bittersweet chocolate praline sauce was an impeccable pair, took away from some of the sweetness but leaving plenty still,,,,,,,

the other desserts were the tasting of apples: golden delicious tart tatin, cortland apple butter cake and granny smith apple sorbet and the "decadent triple mousse , spiced hot chocolate, macadamia icecream and chocolate gelato. all excellent. ( i m sorry that i cant be more descriptive, but they are pretty detailed)

on top of that, the captain had a "small" crush on my friend and brought us out an additional dessert of anjou pear and red currant cobbleer with vanilla bean icecream and poire williams gelee, that was excellent and great buttery taste to the crust and the tart currants and pears were great together.

also, we had their special truffles and petit fours, and then a little breakfast snack, which i cant recall bc i didnt eat it,,,,, my roomie did

all in all, it was an amazing meal, one of my very best ever. we didnt drink that much we each paid $140 with tip. I would recommend it to anyone. Eventhough the space wasnt memorable, the food, and service were out of this world! I cant wait to go back when i save up some money! :raz:

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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  • 1 year later...

Last night my husband and I had the dinner at Aureole. Due to negative reviews in this thread, I was a bit concerned about our choice, but I am pleased with the choice at last.

The chef Dante Boccuzzi provided elegant and refined dining experience starting from 3 kinds of complimentary appetizers.

I really liked my appetizer, which was butternut squash sauce with mushroom ravioli, but enjoyed the most with my main dish - venison with mushroom, shredded red cabbage and potato croquet with touch of rosemary spice. Warm chocolate and hazelnut pyramid dessert was great, but it was too rich and too sweet for my taste.

Service was courteous and efficient, so I don't have much complaint for the service.

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  • 3 months later...

I went for lunch last week, and I thought it was excellent. We did the prix fixe menu, which was a "Rhubarb Tasting Menu" that day. It left me quite full and very satisfied. I only vaguely remember the first dish, but it was some combination of a couple of different preparations of rhubarb, including a sorbet and a gelee, with avocado. The second course was a rhubarb crusted striped bass. The third and final course was a poussin with rhubarb incorporated somehow, but I'm not sure where. All three courses were great, and at $35 sans wine, it's a fine bargain.

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  • 1 year later...
anyone been lately?

Don't know if this counts as "lately", but I went for lunch back in May. No pictures/notes or anything like that, but let me see what I can remember...

At that time, the lunch prix fixe was $35, while I belive it is now $28, at least through the end of October.

The "Market Sashimi -- fresh and pickled celery salad, spicy capicola, black lava salt" was quite tasty. I don't recall what the fish was (shima aji, perhaps?), but it had a buttery texture that played nicely against the crunch of the celery and the fat salt crystals. BUT, there was waaaay too much oil drizzled over all of it. Completely unnecessary touch, if you ask me. It really got in the way of appreciating the dish correctly, I think.

The main course was a slow roasted salmon that incredibly moist, tender and flavorful. Served with mushrooms and a few other things I can't seem to remember.

Desserts included a nicely presented but unmemorable ice cream and sorbet sampler in which too many flavors were indistinquishable and/or with too icy a texture, and a decent, but boring, chocolate dessert.

Overall, certainly not a bad meal. And maybe dinner here is a different story, but during lunch it is so SLOW, almost boring even. And then compare it to what you get for the money at Jean Georges for lunch, and yeah...

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  • 11 months later...

I had dinner at Aureole on Friday night, and considered it a "wow" experience. Food was very creative and delicious. Favorites were the seared foie gras with peach as a first course, and the duck breast with figs and honey for the main course. The maple and corn flan was perfect. Service is alway attentive. Aureole is my favorite restaurant. After five years of fairly regular dining there, Aureole is never less than wonderful. They're celebrating their 20th anniversary, and I wish them many more years of great success!

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  • 4 months later...

Eight years and we've not made it past the first page.

I'm going to stir the proverbial pot here and hope that something floats to the top.

“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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Umm, they're pulling a Le Cirque and are moving to some big building, maybe anchored by a bank. And they hired a new chef for the transition, from some big restaurant I'm forgetting. Or maybe all of this already happened and there's still no buzz.

Has anyone been to Bouley yet? This seems much the same.

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They brought in Chris Lee from Gilt, which is something I am very much looking forward to. We returned twice to Aureole after Dante Bocuzzi left, and Aiazzi was cooking and only really ate one good dish in both trips combined. The drinks menu still kicked ass, and they were one of the first to advertise a cocktail pairing menu, so they got my business until the food really went South.

The move will also make them more casual (no more jackets required) and more accessible (they will be in midtown, near Bryant Park), whether they retain the Relais, well, they have a long way to go, but its possible.

edited to add: They are going to the "Green" Bank of America Building in Bryant Park, and moving sometime this spring. They remain in the townhouse for now.

Edited by sickchangeup (log)
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Umm, they're pulling a Le Cirque and are moving to some big building, maybe anchored by a bank.  And they hired a new chef for the transition, from some big restaurant I'm forgetting.  Or maybe all of this already happened and there's still no buzz.

Has anyone been to Bouley yet?  This seems much the same.

There are some very good places that do solid business that the foodies simply do not write about. It is not necessarily correlated with merit.
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There are some very good places that do solid business that the foodies simply do not write about. It is not necessarily correlated with merit.

I guess I don't understand what a "foodie" is, then. Foodies aren't all about the food?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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There are some very good places that do solid business that the foodies simply do not write about. It is not necessarily correlated with merit.

I guess I don't understand what a "foodie" is, then. Foodies aren't all about the food?

There are some very good places that simply don't get written about very much on places like eG, MF, Yelp, Chowhound, etc.
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There are some very good places that do solid business that the foodies simply do not write about. It is not necessarily correlated with merit.

I guess I don't understand what a "foodie" is, then. Foodies aren't all about the food?

There are some very good places that simply don't get written about very much on places like eG, MF, Yelp, Chowhound, etc.

I write in here (as well as on CH and Yelp) about the wonderful things at Aureole. I am also looking forward to Chris Lee's new creations. I was also a big fan of both Dante Bocuzzi and Tony Aiazzi. Both chefs did Aureole proud.

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The Feedbag has a good interview today.

quote from it:

So what’s on the menu now?

Well, we have a tuna tartare, but it looks like beef tartare. It has Asian flavors — dashi gelee, pickled daikon, citrus zest. We set it in a ring mold but on top, instead of an egg yolk, we have miso ahi amarillo dressing that’s been spherified.

OK, I have no idea what that means.

It looks like an egg and breaks, but it isn’t an egg.

Chris Lee Interview

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i for one am very excited for the move. they need a new snazzy room to energize.

they were doing this industry night mondays back in december/november.... 5 courses for $45, no corkage. it was good but not great... actually for the price it was great. the service was eager but slightly awkward (there's one captain who's been there for 15 years and he kind of freaked me out a little bit, very strange.)

christopher lee is brilliant and i'm sure the bank of america space will be gleaming and sexy as hell... i heard may for an opening?

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