Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Laurent Gras dinner at BLT Fish - a few days left to try it

Last night a few friends and I went over to BLT Fish to sample a dinner from Laurent Gras, who was taking over the kitchen for a special meal Monday night. I had read about the dinner, but by the time I got around to calling for a reservation it was booked up, so I settled for making a reservation on Tuesday night, as the menu will be available as a special through this Saturday the 7th, although Gras was only going to be in the house for Monday night. I was quite excited about the opportunity to try the cooking of Laurent Gras, as I had seen his Michelin 3-star cooking at L2O in Chicago via his blog and on this segment from No Reservations where Bourdain and Eric Ripet feast and I was sold, but he left before I got a chance to make it over there. Chicago's loss is our gain however, as he now plans to open a restaurant here in NY after doing a few more pop ups and enjoying the summer. As luck would have it, I saw this BLT Fish tweet mentioning they had some cancellations, and this time I was quick enough to change my reservation to Monday to be there for the main event.
We only got to try a handful of items and not a 22-course marathon they enjoyed on No Reservations, but everything was great and only got me more excited about the chef's eventual new restaurant. We started with a nice amuse of mushroom dashi with lobster and ramps, before moving on the the main menu:
While everything was excellent, my favorite was the first course of Black Bass Sashimi with Ossetra Caviar Vinaigrette, nori, red Sorrel & baby Shiso:
The Bass was clean and sweet, the caviar added a subtle brininess, and the herbs and nori added just the right touch of texture and light flavor to bring everything together while keeping the pristine fish shining to the front.

Next we had the Shellfish Fricassee with a Harissa Bouillon poured table side. The clam, scallop,shrimp, and lobster were each cooked very delicately and perfectly for the protein they are. In particular, the clam and scallop were barely cooked, the scallop retained the lusciousness of a raw scallop while gaining a hint of firmness, while the clam was just gently warmed. This was the favorite course of some of my companions. The Spanish Garnacha rosé was an excellent foil to this dish.
For the last savory course we had the Arctic Char Schnitzel with Letttuce, Pinot Noir Essence & Morels.I wasn't sure what to expect reading the menu, but the Schnitzel referred to the topping crusted atop the fish, adding both flavor and texture. The Char was another example of restraint and precision in applying heat to the seafood, just cooked through but meltingly moist and soft. Another winner. The Patagonian Pinot Noir's young 2009 vintage belied its quality; it tasted to me significantly older given how well it's flavors came together. Note to self, I should see if I can pick up some of this "Barda" Bodega Chacra 2009.
We ended with the geometric box of chocolate containing several layers of goodness, paired with port. I especially enjoyed the fresh blueberries and jam betwixt chocolate ganache layers.
Even though Laurent Gras will not be in the kitchen for the rest of the week, these dishes will be offered as blackboard specials through Sat the 7th; you will not be sorry if you partake. I'm just looking forward to the opening of his new restaurant here, although if he does more pop ups I'll try those as well.

Oh, another tip, if you go, stopping by the Raines Law Room across the street for a pre-dinner cocktail would not be a mistake. I had an excellent Grapefruit Tom Collins using Beefeater 24 Bitters I spied behind the bar and wanted them to make me something using them.

Here's the No Reservations clip if you want more food porn and to see why I was so interested. If Eric Ripert likes seafood this much, you know it's good:

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