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I finally made it over to Room 4 Dessert yesterday evening to introduce myself to Chef Goldfarb and his cuisine. It is worth noting, and I'm not sure if this is a compliment or a criticism, that a large part of the R4D experience is watching and interacting with Chef Goldfarb himself. Yes, the desserts are tasty and thought-provoking, but I'm not sure if they would have quite the same effect without Chef Goldfarb's presence.

It must also be stated (or perhaps reiterated), that R4D's desserts are not all that controversial in taste, technique, or execution. There are no pipettes or misters, no menthol- or tobacco-infused syrups, nothing too "out there." The dishes are presented in a logical, and in many cases literally linear, fashion, such that nothing is that far out of the ordinary.

Where R4D suceeds (and for some fails) is most likely in the subtlety of its creativity. Diners looking for a faux El Bulli extravaganza will undboutedly not buy the "hype," as it's clearly not present. Diners coming in off the street will wonder why this place isn't Chikalicious or doesn't serve "normal" petis fors and mini-cakes.

From a purely food perspective, R4D's desserts aren't the best or most creative I've ever had. They do, however, offer diners the ability to, as Chef Goldfard plainly explains, enjoy two very different experiences. Patrons may either enjoy desserts that fundamentally taste "good," without giving them much else thought. More interested diners can really delve into the desserts in an attempt to understand how the various items pair with each other and why they're served together in the first place. Having Chef Goldfarb there to answer questions only adds to this experience. For this reason, I suggest going earlier in the evening, when the restaurant isn't as busy.

Despite my assertion that R4D is not all that controversial, or hyper modern, or what have you, I will admit that it's difficult to describe R4D's actual dishes. Again, I'm not sure if this is a compliment or a criticism (and again I'm sure it depends on who you ask), but it's certainly a place to be experienced. The sum of the desserts here are more memorable than their (numerous) individual parts.

For those interested, I tried the Virtuality glass, the (Straw)berry Beret and Scotch Plains tastings, and the savory petits fors. Highlights included the top 2/3 of the Virtuality that reminded me a super airy key lime pie for the mature palate, the Scottish roll with marscapone and fennel in the Scotch Plains, the miso chocolate ganache with the petits fors.

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Wow, the new menu sounds pretty great.

i hope you will find it more interesting than the first menu and less obscure than the second

or in other words, better balanced

great to meet bryan and talk a little about his new project zkitchen

probably a link somewhere

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  • 2 weeks later...

with a sabbatical request from our breakfast chef and

due to extraordinary demand at the peak dinner hours

room 4 dessert will suspending its breakfast activities for the immediate future

please stay tuned for details of its reinstatement

best wishes to all of our extended family

wg

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Guys - don't forget the drinks, too. I had a taste of the coyly named "Maybe the best mojito around" (or something like that) and it was fantastic - instead of mint, the drink used African basil.

As for the food - everything was fantastic except for the cocoa granita on the chocolate menu, which I enjoyed, but it was served over what could only be described as cornbread, which I did not. And, if anyone can clue me in, the "chantilly cream in the style of Herve This" or whatever it was called on the peach tasting menu - how is it in the style of Monsieur This?

Again, though, it was a fabulous evening.

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Guys - don't forget the drinks, too. I had a taste of the coyly named "Maybe the best mojito around" (or something like that) and it was fantastic - instead of mint, the drink used African basil.

As for the food - everything was fantastic except for the cocoa granita on the chocolate menu, which I enjoyed, but it was served over what could only be described as cornbread, which I did not. And, if anyone can clue me in, the "chantilly cream in the style of Herve This" or whatever it was called on the peach tasting menu - how is it in the style of Monsieur This?

Again, though, it was a fabulous evening.

an emulsion of milk and white chocolate

whipped while chilling

in the style of msr this chocolate and roquefort chantilly

cheers

wg

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Guys - don't forget the drinks, too. I had a taste of the coyly named "Maybe the best mojito around" (or something like that) and it was fantastic - instead of mint, the drink used African basil.

As for the food - everything was fantastic except for the cocoa granita on the chocolate menu, which I enjoyed, but it was served over what could only be described as cornbread, which I did not. And, if anyone can clue me in, the "chantilly cream in the style of Herve This" or whatever it was called on the peach tasting menu - how is it in the style of Monsieur This?

Again, though, it was a fabulous evening.

an emulsion of milk and white chocolate

whipped while chilling

in the style of msr this chocolate and roquefort chantilly

cheers

wg

That chantilly cream is delicious, Chef. I stopped in with two friends last night (one of them the Tokaji fanatic who kept asking you about that wine) and we all loved the white chocolate chantilly. (I had the (straw)berry beret, which was quite good, too). Thanks for another enjoyable evening. We'll be back soon.

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Realizing that the time to sample the Summer Menu was probably near elapsing, I stopped in last night. In fact, it turned out that the Summer Menu will be replaced in a couple of weeks. If you haven't tried it yet, you should.

Learning that the menu was about to disappear, I decided to exercise my prerogative as a grownup to do whatever the fuck I want and have dessert for dinner, ordering two courses, a glass and a plate. (And a couple of Caiparitinis, which are delicious.) The glass was the "Planteurs" something-or-other (essentially a mango-based flavor profile) and the plate was the "Scotch Plain". It appears to me that the glasses have gone from being the weak sisters of the menu to full equality: this was an astonishing assemblage that I am technically incompetent to describe, but which I was fully competent to enjoy. The "Scotch Plain" plate seemed different from what was described on the menu, but it was another winner. It might say something about r4d's recently suspended breakfast program that my favorite component was an amazingly good sweet roll or bun. As has been observed before, this place is not only notable for its flights of experimental culinary fancy, but also for its complete mastery of the basics.

I hate to let the proprietor frame the discussion, but Will had it absolutely right when he said above that the Summer Menu synthesizes the hedonistic appeal of r4d's original menu with the intellectual rigor of the second menu (which many people, including me, found insufficiently appealling). I wanted to order one of everything on the Summer Menu. (And I thought that even before Will comped me a tokaji at the end of my "meal".)

Sweeter than anything on the menu, however, was Will's nearly two-year-old daughter, who wandered in with her mom. Clearly Will's most delicious creation. And I think some kind of parenting award is warranted to whomever was able to convince this child of one of the genius dessert chefs of our time that what she really prefers to snack on are raisins and banana.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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It's probably not worth very much to add that the chocolate plate on the current menu is one of the very best desserts I've had here. It's all very light (which is not how it looks). The parfait in particular is sort of magical -- you can tell it's quite different from "normal" parfaits, but at least if you're unschooled like me, you can't tell exactly how.

That's what's so good about Room 4 Dessert: the cooking is highly technical, but it just works, even if you're unequipped to appreciate the niceties.

(Oh, and that Mojito variant lambretta enjoyed -- which is still available even though I didn't see it on the menu -- is just great!)

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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And, in light of all the recurrent questions there've been here lately about date spots, this dialogue, in a cab heading back to Manhattan after dinner in Queens, may be of interest to some:

DATE: What should we do now?

ME: I thought we could go somewhere special for drinks and dessert.

DATE: Where is it?

ME: Lafayette between Kenmare and Spring.

DATE: YOU MEAN ROOM 4 DESSERT! WE'RE GOING TO ROOM 4 DESSERT!

ME: Oh, so you've been?

DATE: NO! I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO, BUT COULD NEVER FIND ANYONE TO GO WITH! THIS IS GREAT!

I think Room 4 Dessert is such an effective date spot because it demonstrates to these incredibly svelte girls, who spend most of their time hanging out with their incredibly svelte girlfriends, that there are advantages to spending time with overweight fat guys.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Will Goldfarb has made a name as the mad scientist of desserts, cooking up kooky but delightful sugar rushes at such restaurants as Papillon and Cru. Neither the Times nor the Post liked his creations at Cru, but he took some time off, had a baby, and resurfaced with his own dessert bar in SoHo, Room 4 Dessert. And this time, the Times was smitten.

The wonderful thing about it is that Goldfarb doesn’t have to subsume his vision to somebody else’s concept. The drawback is that diners have to get there from someplace else. So far, it seems to be working. My friend and I dropped by after dinner Friday night at nearby Peasant, only to be told there was a 40-minute wait at 10:00 p.m. The next night, after a dismal meal at the much-farther-away Trestle on Tenth, we gave it one more try, and luckily there were a couple of seats free.

The restaurant occupies a long, narrow storefront. Signage is subtle, and you could easily miss it. Inside, it’s probably 100 feet deep, but so narrow that an NBA player could stretch his arms and touch both side walls. All seating is at the bar. On the menu, which changes regularly, every category begins with “Room 4,” as in “Room 4 Dessert Glass,” “Room 4 Alcohol,” “Room 4 Sweet Wine,” and so forth.

Desserts at R4D have funky names like “indecent proposal” and “laissez pear.” Individual desserts are $10 each, while tasting plates of four selections are $14 each. My friend tried “choc ’n’ awe,” a four-dessert tasting of white chocolate cake, cacau mousse, sucree safranee with chocolate cream, and chocolate ice cream. I had bites of each; the mousse and the cake were particularly decadent.

I had “virtual mauritius,” which came with a brown sugar creamy, little pieces of green mango, a iogurt biscuit, and whipped frozen carrot puree. (I am using Goldfarb’s spellings in each case.) The connection to Mauritius was lost on me, but the “iogurt biscuit” was the best of the bunch, closely followed by the creamy brown sugar. The pieces of green mango were cut too small and were rather annoying.

There’s a variety of wine and hard liquor pairings recommended for every dessert. I had a drink called mar.ti.ni ($15), which is what it sounds like, and my friend had champagne ($14). Other drinks have names like “who says cali can’t age” and “hey man, nice priorat.”

Goldfarb prepares most of the desserts himself. When he came over to serve us, I introduced myself by my eGullet handle, and we had a nice chat about the restaurant. When I told him we were turned away the night before, he replied wryly, “You should have complained to the owner.” We talked about his baby girl too, and he brought over a stack of photos. Later, he comped us a “tootsie roll” (warm chcolate praline mousse, truffled streusel ‘sex panther’, raisins, and tequilla fluid), which was terrific. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Room 4 Dessert is an expensive indulgence. With two tasting plates at $14 each, and drinks at $14–15, the bill was $57 before tax and tip. For the record, individual desserts have gone up by $1, and tasting plates $2, since the Times review came out in February. The liquor is particularly expensive. We found it a luxury well worth it—but a luxury nonetheless.

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While it would do no good if the quality of the offerings didn't back them up (fortunately, they do) I love the wit and creativity that goes into the names and descriptions. In addition to the desserts and drinks themselves, this is something Will does better than most.

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 was lucky enough to visit R4D while I was in new york....unbelievable desserts

i also visited while in nyc the last two weeks of september. i really like what will is doing. an ambitious menu that challenges will as well as the guest without being so intellectual that you can't really enjoy the fact that they are desserts. will offers a frequently changing menu with a good range of seasonal flavors. i congratulate will on a job well done. i particularly liked the "glasses", desserts made parfait-like in delicate stemware where the diner digs through the individual strata, trying to get that perfect mouthful of all of the distinct flavors that meld into a perfect whole.

my only (very minor) complaint was that i felt the desserts were a touch too sweet for my palate. nonetheless, i enjoyed the desserts infinitely more than the desserts at wd-50 (where i ate, desserts only, two days after r4d). i also feel that will, with room 4 dessert, has succeeded where chikalicous falls short. i was so excited when chikalicious opened, but felt a bit let down by the product and execution. r4d picks up the slack and then some.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I knew about this being done but thought it was going to be in Gastronomica magazine.

Instead, Art Culinaire issue # 82 has a wonderful article called "A Study in Color" starring none other then R4D's own Will Goldfarb!

Great stuff, including recipes by Will like...

"Coco-Cola", a kind of cross between a drink & a parfait?

Coconut flavored

"Blackberry Beretta", with a squid ink brioche, blackberry confit, rum gelee as well as a cocoa glaze

"Orange", with mango sorbet, passion fruit sponge, (as in a frozen air, a faux sponge cake maybe?) and a carrot saffron gnocchi ( a sperification like item using calcium lactate and sodium alginate)

Scarlett Johansson, featuring beet and pomagranate

Last but not least, the beautiful " Diffusion Rouge, An Homage to Pierre Gagnaire" , featuring Hibiscus Jello and a Red Wine Reduction.

Wonderful stuff!

Fab issue!

Edited by tan319 (log)

2317/5000

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An interesting bit of news from Chef Goldfarb on Grub St. today.  Apparently he's outsourcing his desserts.
“Fire your pastry chef,” the cake whiz says. “We’re your Bangladesh.”

Classic.

Full article here.

I guess he rents a seperate test kitchen/production space somewhere. The kitchen at R4D is...well there isn't a kitchen!

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An interesting bit of news from Chef Goldfarb on Grub St. today.  Apparently he's outsourcing his desserts.
“Fire your pastry chef,” the cake whiz says. “We’re your Bangladesh.”

Classic.

Full article here.

Bryan, when I first read this post, I was under the impression that Will was getting his desserts from elsewhere :laugh::raz:

From the article:

Although Goldfarb is the first of the rock-star pastry chefs to provide outsourcing, it could be the wave of the future.

There is a difference between "outsourcing" and "providing outsourcing" :smile:

In any case, I think it is a great idea. I would imagine that he is crafting specific desserts for specific restaurants, but I could be wrong.

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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