Tag: Restaurant

Per Se, New York City, United States

How much hassle is it to arrange a surprise birthday meal in New York City from London? No matter how much upfront planning I did, it was still nearly impossible. I was going to treat my friend Darcy to a nice meal in NYC at the last weekend of August 2011 since it’s her big birthday. My plan A was to book Le Bernandin, but it’s closed for refurbishment in August; then I booked Picholine and they confirmed the reservation, with me thinking that it’s all sorted. However, about a fortnight before the visit, I got a cryptic e-mail saying that they cancelled my reservation. It’s only when I rang the restaurant that they told me they would be closed for refurbishment also (is that all they do in New York in August?). So in the end I opted for my safety net Per Se, which might be impossible to book (and Darcy would be able to guess) but worth a try.

Then what happened? Hurricane Irene hit New York that last weekend in August and nearly the whole of New York (including Per Se) was shut down. But at least Per Se managed to sort out a table for the weekend after for Sunday lunch, which I happened to be back in Manhattan anyway. Then it’s working out with Darcy’s boyfriend on how to throw the scent off the trail, and so I made up a story of going elsewhere but meet at Columbus Circle.

Luckily when the big day came, everything worked according to plan. Darcy got a birthday greeting from the restaurant as soon as she arrived, and once we settled down at the table, we had the tough task of deciding which menu to go for. In the end, I chose the vegetarian menu (which was unusual, but after a whole week of stuffing my face stupid, I could do with a lighter meal) while the rest of the table chose the carnivore menu.

The amuse-bouche reminded us of Mr Underhill’s in the UK, as they were more sophisticated versions of Gougeres, smoked salmon cones and sweet potato cone.

Per Se - Gougeres Per Se - Salmon Cones and Sweet Potato Cone

(1) “Oysters and Pearls” – Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling white sturgeon caviar

Per Se - Oysters and Pearls

My first course was Sweet Corn “Veloute” with Hass avocado and thyme-scented buttermilk sherbet – Every time I saw sweetcorn soup of some form, I always thought of my most favourite version at Restaurant Sat Bains. Here, the combination of the avocado and sherbet actually worked really well with the sweetcorn. All the various flavours just came to life in the mouth.

Per Se - Sweet Corn Veloute Per Se - Sweet Corn Veloute

(2) Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm with navel orange, cherry belle radishes, mache and black winter truffle puree

Per Se - Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm

Torchon of Elevages Perigord moulard duck foie gras, with compressed Garden State peaches, fennel bulb, Marcona almond butter and petite basil

Per Se - Torchon of Elevages Perigord Moulard Duck Foie Gras

Braised fennel bulb with Per Se raisins, sunflower seed puree, nepitella mint and crispy Greek yogurt

Per Se - Braised Fennel Bulb

Sauteed fillet of Atlantic striped bass, with Florida Creek shrimp, sweet peppers, cilantro shoots and saffron aioli

Per Se - Sauteed Fillet of Atlantic Striped Bass

Yukon gold potato “mille-feuille”, broccolini, cherry belle radishes and black winter truffle puree

Per Se - Yukon Gold Potato Mille-Feuille

Butter poached Nova Scotia lobster, glazed turnips, watercress and Oregon huckleberries

Per Se - Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster

Swiss chard leaves “piccata”, with toasted farro “tabouleh”, violet artichokes, Cipollini onion shoots and black olive puree

Per Se - Swiss Chard Leaves Piccata

Thomas farm’s pigeon “pastrami”, rye seed pancake, red wine braised cabbage and “Thousand Island dressing”

Per Se - Thomas Farm's Pigeon Pastrami

Hen egg omelette, Matsutake mushrooms, French leeks, Vldalia onion “soubise” and Mizuna

Per Se - Ham Egg Omelette

Snake River farms’ “Calotte de boeuf”, Squire Hill Farm’s butternut squash, young onions, tarragon puree and Nasturtium caper cream

Per Se - Snake River Farms' Calotte de Boeuf

Mascarpone-enriched cranberry bean “Agnolotti”, cherry tomatoes, haricots verts, parmesan crisp, basil and Armando Manni extra virgin olive oil emulsion

Per Se - Mascarpone-enriched Cranberry Bean Agnolotti

“Hittisau”, buckwheat crepe, seckel pears, broccolini, toasted hazelnuts and balsamic vinegar

Per Se - Hittisau

“Pata Cabra” with charred eggplant puree, cucumbers, citrus blossom and greenmarket peppers

Per Se - Pata Cabra

“Honeyed plums” with plum compote, honeycomb, whipped plums and burnt honey ice-cream. “Peach Lemonade” with toasted oat crumble, lemon soda and Pearson Farm peach sherbet

Per Se - Honeyed PlumsPer Se - Peach Lemonade

Ice-cream sandwich, and Thomas Keller Oreo ice-cream biscuit

Per Se - Ice-Cream Sandwich Per Se - TKO Ice-cream Per Se - TKO Ice-cream

“S’Mores” – Tcho chocolate torte, vanilla marshmallow, candied Virginia peanuts and caramel ice-cream

Per Se - S'Mores

“Raspberries in black and green” – Macerated raspberries, black sesame, raspberry gateux and matcha-scented ice-cream

Per Se - Raspberries in Black and Green

Variety of truffles, macaroons

Per Se - Mignardises Per Se - Mignardises

Address: 10 Columbus Circle # 6-REST, New York, NY 10019-1219, United States
Telephone: +1 (212) 823-9335
Website: www.perseny.com

Opening Hours:  Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sun 11:30am-1:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm

Food: 9/10
Ambience: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Total: 19/20 [Based on visit in September 2011]

Bladebone Inn, Bucklebury, Berkshire, United Kingdom

[UPDATE: 2021-12-28: This restaurant is permanently closed]

I have lost count how many years I have chatted to Kiren, the current owner of Bladebone Inn, in the social media space; but it’s only in June 2012 that we accidentally bumped into one another in the real world. One of his first questions when we finally met was “when are we going to see you at Bladebone?”. OK, Berkshire is not exactly that far from London but I just did not seem to find that opportunity to visit Bladebone Inn because of all my work travels outside the UK. In fact, there was one time when I got so close to visiting the place, but a business acquaintance decided to take his initiative and book another place in a neighbouring village for dinner instead, thinking that the other place was where I was thinking.

Still, finally just before Christmas, the opportunity came up one lunchtime, en route from London to the west country. I grabbed that opportunity firmly and made sure that it would not slip out of my hands into 2013.

Bladebone Inn is a pub in the quiet village of Bucklebury – thanks to modern technology, the GPS was a much-needed gadget to guide me to this former 17th century inn. Strangely enough, the GPS and mobile phone signal just dropped dead as soon as the pub was in sight. There’s a certain charm to the pub, not just its location, but with its “Dogs and muddy boots welcome” sign at the front door.

Kiren came to the bar area to give us a warm welcome and suggested that we should try his “cheeky little 5-courser”. Even though I’ve got plans for dinner that evening, I thought – why not? A first little plate of “cheese and pineapple” promptly arrived, as a prelude to the 5-course tasting menu. Even for a non-cheddar cheese fan, the salty flavour of the fried Montgomery Cheddar cheese really brought out the sweetness of the pineapple cubes.

Cheese and Pineapple

We were then taken to the table, where brioche was brought to the table. Then Kiren just pushed the plant pots in the middle of the table in front of us, and announced proudly “here’s your first course, Chicken Liver Parfait with Brioche”. The presentation  certainly came as a surprise, as it did look more like a quirky herb pot decoration than an edible dish, with some herb leaves growing out of a dark-brown soil-like layer of dried crumbled malt loaf. Digging down into the “soil”, the chicken liver parfait was revealed. The concept was certainly interesting and made the food look fun. The flavour of the liver was a bit too strong on its own; and it was better when combined with the sweetness of the brioche.

Chicken Liver Parfait Brioche

The next course was like a piece of art on a plate and was brought to the table with a glass dome cover – smoked salmon with beetroot and wasabi mousse. The smoked salmon tasted beautiful, and one piece of beetroot disguised itself as a raw tuna lookalike – it’s only when I cut into it did I realise that it was not tuna at all. The wasabi mousse was not too strong-flavoured which was a relief (some chefs were very good at over-doing it with wasabi and I hated that, unless I had a bad cold and completely blocked nose). The beetroot meringue added the necessary sweetness to the dish. There were beetroot popping candies peppered over the plate, which I thought was not needed. Making the dish fun and playful? Yes, but it lowered the tone of the dish.

Smoked Salmon with Beetroot and Wasabi Mousse

The third course was mackerel with squid ink pearl spelt, mussel, samphire and trout roe. While the mackerel was a little on the dry side on its own, it was saved by the moisture from the spelt. There were a few small crunches of honeycomb which gave that little extra sweetness to the dish. The presentation was once again impressive and looked like some Japanese artwork.

Mackerel with Squid Ink Pearl Spelt, Mussel, Samphire and Trout Roe

The main course was duck breast and confit leg, celeriac, mulled cabbage, beetroot, walnut and blood orange. Whilst the duck breast was a bit tougher than I would have liked, it was still beautifully cooked, and all the ingredients worked well together. With such impressive starters and fish courses earlier on, it was a hard act to follow.

Duck Breast and Confit Leg, Celeriac, Mulled Cabbage, Beetroot, Walnut and Blood Orange

So far the portions were not exactly little, but I enjoyed the lunch immensely. The final course was a light . Apart from the lemon, all the ingredients were locally sourced, according to Kiren. This dessert was light and not too sweet – a very refreshing dish to finish off this wonderful journey for the taste-bud.

Blackberry Mille Feuille with Crab Apple Jelly, Wood Sorrel Sorbet, Lemon and Honeycomb

The presentation and choice of ingredients showed some very promising and impressive, yet playful, ideas, even though some fine-tuning is needed to take this to the next level – it’s only a matter of time. Is this a  future star in the making? I think so. I already look forward to the next visit to Bladebone Inn (hopefully not too long into 2013).

Address:  Chapel Row, Bucklebury, near  Reading, West Berkshire RG7 6PD, England, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0) 118 971 2326
Website: www.thebladeboneinn.com

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 12.00-23.00 ; Sunday 12.00-22.30

Food: 7/10
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 15/20 [Based on visit in December 2012 ]

Stoney River, Nashville, United States

Stoney River is a chain of about 10 steakhouses dotted mainly in the Central Eastern part of the United States. There are two in Nashville – one in Franklin near Nashville and another one in Nashville itself. I have been to the one in Nashville a couple of times and the food has always been good.

For starters, I would recommend the New England Lobster Bisque garnished with sherry. It had a strong kick of the sherry in the soup which was rich, smooth and sweet in flavour.

One of the best main courses there, in my opinion, was the coffee-cured filet mignon, cured in coffee, brown sugar and molasses. The steak  was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth. The enjoyment was augmented by the sweetness of the molasses with the hint of coffee.

Desserts never seem to be the strong point in a meal in the USA. However, the cappuccino creme brulee with spiced pecan and berries was worth a try.

Address: 3015 West End Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee, TN 37203, United States
Telephone: +1 615-340-9550
Website: nashville.stoneyriver.com

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 11am-2pm Lunch / 5pm-10pm Dinner ; Saturday: 4pm – 10pm ; Sunday: 11am – 3pm Lunch / 5pm – 9pm Dinner

Food: 7/10
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 14/20 [Based on visits in April & November 2012 ]