Saturday, November 19, 2005

FABulous Dinner

Well, if there's one thing I can always count on, it's for my husband to treat me right.

Last night, I caught a train into the city to meet him for dinner and he had made a reservation at Brasserie LCB. Let me give you a little background here: LCB stands for La Côte Basque. La Côte Basque was a French restaurant headed up by Chef J.J. Rachou, and was widely renowned as one of the finest restaurants in the city, if not the world. Since coming to New York for the first time in 1987, I wanted to go there.

A little background: when I visited here in 1987, I visited with a group of seven other people, and on one of the nights of our seven-night trip, the plan was to go to a very nice restaurant. So the group was to suggest ideas and the restaurant would be chosen from among the ideas. It didn't go quite that way. I made my suggestion, but it was pretty clear that a couple key decisionmakers of the group had already decided on Tavern on-the-Green, a place which I had absolutely no desire to go to, and that was going to be that. I had other suggestions besides La Côte Basque: Le Cirque; Windows on the World; and the Rainbow Room. At any rate, enough rant; I didn't get to go to La Côte Basque. And as it turned out, the Tavern was horrible. The service was bad, the food was extremely overrated, and when we complained, the staff basically ignored us. I have never gone back, and will never.

When I moved here, I told Jess I wanted to go to La Côte Basque at some point, because it had always been my dream to do so. But it just never happened, and early in 2004, La Côte Basque closed its famed doors. I felt cheated.

Then, the other night, Jess discovered that La Côte Basque was living again in the form of Brasserie LCB, and so that is where we went for dinner. It's not as formal as the original, according to reports, but several of the dishes that made the former La Côte Basque famous are still on the menu.

Let me say this: I didn't actually think it was possible for the place to live up to my expectations, having built upon them for the past 17 years. However...

I had an appetizer of French onion soup that was, without question, the best I have ever had in my life. I felt as if I was tasting it for the first time, the way it was supposed to taste. The soup is supposed to have a base of beef broth or bouillon - most broths in this type of soup are either heavy or very salty, or are actually onion broth, which makes it far too strong. This was a very delicate beef and onion flavored broth that was perfect. It was loaded with thinly shaved onions that were neither too strong nor too sweet, which were hiding under a generous piece of baguette that had been properly dried so it was not at all mushy, it was just perfect. The melted Gruyere was mild and provided the perfect balance to the rest of the dish. Jess commented that his cream of pea soup was equally impressive. I wanted to taste it, but was a little self-conscious of doing so in a place as nice as this. So I didn't. But I will next time.

At any rate, the service was highly attentive, and a bread basket yielding baguettes, rosemary, olive oil, and olive bread, and a splendid raisin bread passed the table four times. I took the raisin bread twice and the baguette once, each one a little bite of heaven served with the clean, crisp French butter which can readily be identified on the palate. (I love butter, but domestic butter tastes greasy and heavy in comparison to French butter.)

For the entrée, I had intended to order the filet mignon, but upon Jess' urging me to order something more out-of-the-ordinary, I ordered Red Snapper encrusted in Herbs de Provence. Jess, on the other hand, ordered the Steak Frites. Hypocrite! It was okay for him to order steak, but I had to order something different. Oh, well. I hoped the fish wouldn't be completely disappointing.

Understand that I am not a big fish person. It's very difficult to cook fish my liking. It's either too dry or too fishy or too rare. Snapper is almost always too dry, but I thought I would give it a try.

It was nothing less than spectacular. Served atop a bed of amazingly-prepared vegetables, including cauliflower, parsnip, carrot, and mushrooms, it rested over a pillow of light-as-air whipped potatoes and was decorated with a sweet red pepper and sun-dried tomato coulis. The fish was perfectly cooked, juicy and light, and the coulis was positively amazing.

Jess' steak was juicy and flavorful, and his french fries were quite good, but I felt I got the better dish. He also had a delicious and unusual salad of field greens accompanying his meal, which was quite tasty.

For dessert, we each chose something chocolate. I chose the Dôme au Chocolat and Jess had the Chocolate Lava Cake with White Chocolate Ice Cream. Both were exquisite in their own way. Mine was more of a chocolate mousse domed over a chocolate crust and delicately topped with whipped cream and a raspberry, plated with vanilla and mango sauces that were nice complements, not at all overwhelming. Jess' cake was more decadent, but no less delicious, the plate decorated with vanilla, raspberry, and mango coulis.

We will definitely be returning. While it wasn't inexpensive, it was not an expensive meal by New York standards, and in fact, we felt it was actually a good value. Magnifique.


At 12:00 PM, November 26, 2005, Blogger Knottyboy said...

I hate you...
I'm sitting here in a puddle of my own digestive juices with my tongue lolling like a boiled shrimp on my chin. You couldn't have just FedExed the doggie bag could you? Not even a crust of bread for your pal in the wilds of frigging cowboy country. *dry sobs*
SO...on a much less bitter note...Marc baby, honey, cream in my coffee, jizz on my blue dress...Why in the hell aren't you writing critiques for the culinary section of the NY Times? Christ darling work that noodle, you've certainly got the knack!


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