With only three nights in New York City Corton was one of the restaurants I initially, but sadly, had left out of my dinner plans. Mainly for two reasons: There was no available tables on OpenTable.com and because of Corton’s strict no photo-policy. I had sent an email to the restaurant in advance to ask for permission to shoot photos for my blog, explaining that I never use flash and am most discrete and conscious about not disturbing the other guests. I received a polite rejection.
But when my return to Denmark got delayed by the now so famous ash cloud I decided to go for dinner at the two-stars Michelin Corton anyway. I planned to enjoy it without taking photos at all and not writing a VGF post on it.
I arrived in the evening on 20th April and got warmly welcomed by the maitre d’ and shown to my table in the middle of the elegangt and cool room with good view to the whole restaurant. To my big surprise she informed me, that if I just happened to have my camera with me, then it would be okay to take pictures as long as I didn’t use the flash. Apparently Chef had seen this blog and okayed my photographing his dishes. Flattering, and thank God I DID bring my camera after all.
I took a look at the menu and quickly opted for the chef’s tasting menu because I didn’t feel certain that only three dishes would be enough to provide me with a good impression of the restaurant and the style of the food.
Three appetizers arrived and accompanied the nice glass of bubbly from Jean Claude Thévenet Blanc de Blancs, Mâconnais NV.
All three of them were very rich and rather complex. In fact they were small hints and a very good impression of what I could expect to come. The little cup with the green stuff and foie gras underneath was very delicate and tasty. To die for, really.
Kusshi Oyster, Smoked Beet, Horseradish creme, Smoked Pecan
My first dish presented oysters in two ways. Both were very fresh, pure but rich in taste. Excellent.
Flowering -miner’s Lettuce, Black Olive, White Asparagus
Again I loved the foie gras and the same sweet sweet note to it like the appetizer had. The balance was marvelous with the right amount of salt, sweet, balsamic acidity. The sphere was apple cider and had a fruity and slightly acidic note – it reminded me of the taste of wine gum. The toast was perfection: Crunchy and fragile, full of taste with a slight sweetness to it.
Before I was served the next dish the chef came to my table and showed me a bag with the fish inside. It was cooked slowly sous-vide.
Morels, Puffed Buckwheet, Mussel Ramp Bouillabaisse
The black bass was wonderful, fresh, juicy and full of delicate taste. Again there was more than one dish in the course, and there was a hugh spectrum of different tastes. I was still drinking the nice white Jacques Bavard Saint-Romain, Burgundy 2007 I ordered earlier for the first dishes, but think that the Pinot Noir I had with the following course would have matched the fish even better.
Elysian Fields Lamb
Yogurt Gnocchi, Sweetbread, Spiced Mole
I think it’s the first time I encounter mint served with lamb. Here it added freshness to the somewhat intense, gamy taste of the good lamb. Mint sauce, by the way, is a traditional English accompaniment to lamb roast, as far as I know. The quality of the lamb shoulder was also very good. The texture of the meet was firm but also cooked long enough to easily come apart.
The Patrick Javillier Savigny-lès-Beaune, Burgundy 2007 was terrific. The nose was intense and intriguing, huge fruity taste and offered a long aftertaste.
Taleggio, Golden Raisins, Citrus Coriander
I’m a big fan of cooked cheese dishes and I only get it on rare occasions. Each mouthful here comprised both melted and firm cheese with a rich but delicate taste of Taleggio cheese. The taste was combined with a crunch to it and sourness from the citrus coriander and a slight fruity sweetness to the finish which came from the raisins, I think. All in all it was a wonderful example of a cooked cheese serving.
I had saved a bit of the Chardonnay to accompany the cheese and to see how it would work. The wine had a nice cleansing effect and the acidity gave balance to the rich taste. The Pinot Noir was a little to powerful for the cheese.
Pine Nut Palette
Cassis, Fennel, Orange Blossom
This worked like a cheesecake with the cracker crumbs replaced by the pine nuts and it worked well with the refreshing fruit blackberry sorbet on the side.
Bitter Chocolate, Creme, Yogurt Crumble, Muscovado Caramel
The final dessert was much fruitier and lighter than I anticipated, and it was great. The chocolate cake on the side in the brown bowl had the most rich chocolate flavour you can imagine.
This was a great meal with dishes served at a nice pace. I very much liked the food, which was flawless by the way. Most of the courses were highly complex and many comprised side dishes. Although I enjoyed the food I found that the complexity was somehow unnecessary. It made the impression a bit muddled. Chef-owner Paul Liebrandt’s relation to Pierre Gagnaire is evident by the multiplicity of ingredients and plates in one serving and by the cooked cheese.
After the desserts I was invited to see the kitchen and was explained about each station there. Liebrandt had left at that point.
Tea, mignardises and a friendly chat with maitre d’ concluded my great evening at Corton.
The service was all evening kind and efficient and left nothing for me to wish for.
What had actually impressed me the most was the service of the maitre d’ which was of the kind I only very rarely experience. She was most professional but friendly at the same time, addressed me by my name at all times, occasionally came down to my tabled to ask how I was and whether I enjoyed the food, she knew about the ash cloud and the possible delay of my flight back, and was genuinely interested in hearing about my blog and my background.
I agree with Michael of Wandering Epicures, though, there is something about the name of the restaurant, Corton, and the food being served that puzzles me. To me Corton suggests Burgundian cuisine and this wasn’t that. With the strong link to Pierre Gagnaire why not call the restaurant Paris or even Rue Balzac?
Sensmaking name or not, I still very much enjoyed my night at Corton!
Thank you, Susan and thank you Paul!