I have had the great fortune to have dined in quite a few 3 star and 4 star quality restaurants. It is difficult to decide which is my favorite. Some meals were in celebration of something such as an anniversary and some were a fantastic meal with the children and seeing the joy and appreciation in their eyes.
There are 3 meals that are tied in my mind. All three restaurants are French and all 3 are in New York City. The first restaurant called Lespinasse stands out because it was our 2nd wedding anniversary and the restaurant was located in the St. Regis Hotel on Fifth Avenue. I felt so special celebrating in such a grand restaurant. We ordered the Fall themed prix fixe menu and were not disappointed in the least. The appetizer was the most delectable creation of a sautéed piece of Foie Gras served with a rich onion marmalade and a sweet and sour red currant reduction. It simply melted in my mouth, combining the three different flavors and letting my taste buds slowly figure out what is traveling through their domain. The service was exceptional and at dessert time, when I wasn’t thrilled by the dessert cart, my husband suggested that I have another go at my exquisite Foie Gras, which I so happily did. I have to this day never had another rendition of a Foie Gras as delicious as this one was.
My second favorite was at the restaurant right across the street from Lespinasse, La Cote Basque. What made this meal so spectacular is that we were served as royalty by my father’s best friend and his other good friend, le Docteur. Our every need and desire was anticipated, the meals was sumptuous and we even were given the desert as a gift. Two decadent chocolate souffles. We were also seated in a special table, a semi circular banquette, all for us.
The third was pure gluttony on our part, it was almost, operative word being almost, embarrassing. My husband and I were at the Bernardin in New York waiting for a friend of my husband’s. After waiting for 45 minutes, I was dying of hunger, so my husband brilliantly said, he’s not coming, let’s order. Hooray, I get to eat! We both ordered the tasting menu, that means that you are served about 7 or 8 courses but each course is tiny perfect expression of the actual dish, just enough for you to acquaint your taste buds with the proper flavors. The Bernardin is primarily a seafood restaurant and the chef’s imagination is staggering because we couldn’t find any redundancy with a single tiny course offering. Here is where it gets gluttonous, as we are at the desert tasting part of our dinner, my husband’s friend arrives hungry! Believe it or not, my husband and I settled in for round two because there were still a few tiny dishes that we were curious about. Once again we feasted like royalty and it was grand.
I absolutely love to cook but what these three chefs and their staff create within their kitchens is beyond anything I can ever hope to attain. The imagination, the artistic achievement, the creativity, the pure appreciation of flavor and the consistency that they achieve night after night is something to be admired and respected. I truly appreciate the demands of a true chef especially in light that I lack the singular talent for it.