Since our friend cooks there, he told us to order Autumn, the restaurant's seasonal tasting menu, and he'd send out a few extras! Overall, the meal was inventive and interesting. It's amazing how many components go with each dish. One plate will come with four or five different sides. And, amazingly each of the sides, could stand alone as an appetizer.
Posted below are my 5 unforgettable memories from Daniel's birthday dinner at Corton.
1) Forget the Mrs. – Bring the Mistress!
Apparently, Corton is the place to take your special lady – especially if she's not your wife. The night we dined, there were several tables surrounding us with older gentlemen wearing wedding bands. The ring fingers' of their dinner dates – all well-heeled, busty beauties – were noticeably bare. Maybe it's the hidden feel of the restaurant (the front door is unusually un-flashy for the Tribeca neighborhood) and there are absolutely no windows in the dining room. With only 70 covers on a busy night, and a pricey tasting menu, I guess this makes Corton a perfect place for an incognito dinner date.
2) Chilled Foie Gras Mousse Cups
I love foie. Seared, sliced in a terrine, smeared on top of crostinis – I've fallen for many iterations of this mallard delicacy. At Corton, Chef Paul Liebrandt never serves hot foie. Instead, we're presented with a delicate cup filled with a light, airy whipped foie gras mousse. The night we dined, the kitchen topped it with a bell pepper gelée (which I scraped off). But, I've been told that the Chef also likes to pair it with a cold cucumber jelly. I would've preferred the cucumber for two reasons. One, I just like the flavor of cucumber. And, two, since it's intended to be a "refreshing" foie dish, the cucumber essence would've been totally unexpected with the fatty foie. I still dream of that aerated mousse though. (I'll probably make it for Daniel and post the recipe on the blog soon!)
3) If a Fly Lands in your Wine Glass...
The sommelier, Shawn Paul, recommended a sweet syrupy white wine from northern California for Daniel. Although he looks like a big burly guy, Daniel's wine taste is on par with that of a college co-ed. He loves super sweet whites like Moscato d' Asti. And given the choice, he'd most likely pick a cider or Frambroise instead of a bold Cabernet or Merlot. (Most wine people shudder when I tell them this...) The wine was perfect for my birthday boy.
However, the deal breaker for me was when I found a fruit fly in my glass. Of course, I asked for a new one, but I was shocked that they actually charged me for the wine with the fly in it! Maybe I should've made a bigger stink because after I saw that charge I was in a fowl mood. But, Daniel (buzzed off the food and the wine) begged me to leg it go. And, since it was his birthday, I complied with his wish...
4) So Much Seaweed
Kudos to Chef Liebrandt for using seaweed in a variety of unconventional ways including a Nori-flavored powder dusted on top of a crunchy corn nut-like cheese bite. But, my favorite concoction was Liebrandt's seaweed compound butter. The speckled puck of butter is presented with the bread basket. And, although I sneered at the idea at first, it turns out that this umami-laden concoction is more tasty than the regular creamy butter. At Corton, you get both as to not disappoint the purists!
5) Fruity Foams
The one dish that made me smirk was the pre-dessert fruit plate. Scooped pieces of ripe cantaloupe, honeydew, and other melons rest beneath a mound of Elderflower foam. It brought out the kid in me. This dish is like eating the most delicious bubble bath. The server pours a sweet clear liquid around the perimeter of the dish as to not disturb the foam. Every bite was sweet, fruity, light, and fun. The flavorful foam bubbles burst in your mouth and release the lightest Elderflower essence with each bite. What's more fun than eating bubbles?