New York, NY, tasted on February 18, 2004 —
I really do love New York. For years I was raised to hate it as I grew
up in Boston. But eventually my love for food and world class cities
overcame any prejudice I had acquired from the sports world. And a few
months ago we took a fantastic trip to New York City where we ate, and
ate, and ate. Sixteen eating experiences in 6 days (including travel).
Not bad. What better place to start than with
The menu at Danube is divided into two
columns, one labeled Austrian, and the other Modern Eclectic. OK. Sounds
good to me.
Through the cozy foyer we entered an
absolutely gorgeous triangular room. It had a
(I don't know who painted this) feel (if that means anything). There
were beautiful mosaic paintings on the walls, and unfortunately not much
light. It was fine to eat by, but the
pictures came out a
little weird (apologies in advance). Luckily the food came out just
right (no apologies for that).
Things started off with a variety of warm
breads in baskets including pretzels and little
mini-challahs coated in poppy seeds that were light, airy, and
delicious. An amuse of
Salmon with Grainy Mustard, Creme
fraiche and Cucumber arrived. It had a totally surprising flavor, sweet, mixing with
mustard, and fruit undertones. I was expecting a cliché. This wasn't it.
Next up was
Coast Kumamoto Oyster, Diver Sea Scallop Carpaccio with Apple-Mint Gelée
and Frozen Riesling all served in a martini glass. This dish had bright, simple, flavors.
The scallop was super
complementary. And while there were lots of ingredients. The effect was simple
and powerful. It reinforces my theory how some of the best dishes I've
ever had have clear flavor triangles. This one was: briney, fruity, minty.
Following the oyster was
Harpooned Sashimi Quality Bluefin and Hamachi Tuna, Key Lime Pickled
Onion, Pumpkin Seed Oil, and Sesame Mustard Dressing. Other than the pumpkin seed,
this was a pretty typical
flavor combination. That said, it was beautifully executed and
definitely refined. The veggies among us got an incredible combination
Sweet Organic Beets, Horseradish Fromage Blanc, and Toasted Pumpkin Seed
Dressing. It had an awesome beet essence
Then we got
Scallop and New England Crabmeat with Paradeiser Coriander and a tomato
based sauce. Alex' brother Nick said "I would supersize this if
I could." He was right. It had beautiful simple clean flavors. The
tomato was like a blanket on the
perfectly prepared scallop.
Not to worry if you're still hungry, more
dishes to come. Including this one from the Austrian side of the menu:
Sturgeon (from the Columbia River) with Austrian Crescent Potato Leaf
Spinach, Belvedere Vodka and Oscetra Caviar. The sturgeon was nicely cooked, but a bit overwhelmed by
the spinach. And unfortunately there was not
quite enough caviar to give a spike the flavor. Luckily this was
Nantucket Wild Striped Black Bass with Cremini Mushrooms, Tortellini and
Tomato Herb Broth. The ravioli had an intense mushroom flavor. The fish
itself was amazing.
The light savory broth coated, melded with, and brought out the flavor
of the fish which was covered with veggie
scales. The flavor was indescribable. The sides were little flavor
spikes. Peyman called it a "concerto". If he always spoke this
way I'd wonder if it was an affectation. But I think the dish genuinely
Next up was
Boat Lobster with Roasted Sweet Organic Beet Fettuccine, Baby Turnips
Cooked in Tahitian Vanilla, and Horseradish Foam. This dish smelled like maple syrup
(in a good way). It was sweet, light, and
delicious. The beet pasta had a bright, fresh flavor.
We also got to eat
"Schlutzkrapfen" High Altitude Austrian Cheese Ravioli with Harvest Corn
Sauce and Smoked Wild Mushrooms. This dish smelled heavenly. This
seemed strongly attributable to the nutty, cheesey. carinthian
cheese in the ravioli. The cheese flavor really was incredibly
fulfilling. This was a gorgeous dish from the Austrian side of the menu.
As was the
Schnitzel with Austrian Crescent Potatoes, Cucumber Salad, Mixed Greens,
and Lingonberries. The meat was tangy, perfect, and had a delicious fried smell.
This veal was amazing! It was so perfectly fried. The cucumber salad underneath
traditional. The dish that followed it couldn't compete:
Rack of Colorado Lamb with Vegetable Barley, Glazed Cippolini Onion, and
Sweet Potato Puree. It was kind of boring.
Dessert was an extravaganza including eight (1,
desserts compliments of the pastry chef. I think this was because we
were closing down the place. There was a huge variety. We also each got
a serving of
Soup with Mandarin Elderflower Sorbet and Campari Sugar. This dish
was quite sweet
and had a buttery quality as well. The texture from the sugar crystals
was interesting and unique. This was not
a random sorbet. Yummy.
Danube was fantastic. And as good as the
"modern eclectic" side of the menu was, I think I most enjoyed the
Austrian dishes. Any ethnic cuisine refined is good by me. Danube was no
exception. I think I'm going to need to try Bouley's
eponymous restaurant on
the other side of the block to get the full picture.