I will happily admit that Sean and I are major fanboys when it comes to chefs; both of us are avid Top Chef / No Reservations viewers and pride ourselves in how many Iron Chef restaurants we have visited (for the record, the count is: 5 Bobby Flay, 2 Morimoto and 1 Garces). So when I learned about the 10 ARTS / LE BERNADIN Chef’s dinner happening at 10 ARTS this past Tuesday, I snatched up reservations as soon as I could. We have celebrated Sean’s birthday at 10 ARTS before, and while this dinner would take place exactly 1 week before, the prospect of sampling both Jen Carroll’s AND Eric Ripert’s fare was an opportunity we could not afford to miss!Here's what we had:
Amuse Bouche – A single oyster with so many flavors packed into it was our Amuse Bouche. I wish I could remember what exactly went into that oyster but I can tell you it was divine and a great start to the meal.
1st Course – The first course was by Ripert and featured insanely thinly pounded layers of tuna (it was basically like a super flat tuna tartare) that featured a toasted baguette in the middle topped with Foie Gras, chives and olive oil. I am a foie gras fanatic and I absolutely loved this dish. The combination of the olive oil, foie and tuna was so rich and satisfying. This course looked huge but the tuna was flattened so much so that I imagine we were really only eating a few ounces. I have to say this was my favorite dish of the evening, certainly not to take away from the amazing courses to come!
2nd Course – Jen Carroll’s 2nd course consisted of roasted asparagus topped with poached egg and herb butter underneath. To me, I could see this as a great breakfast side or a modified Egg’s Benedict for veggie lovers. The egg was cooked to perfection and the butter was SO good. Butter in (good) restaurants never ceases to amaze. We use Kerrygold and while that butter is the best I can find in the grocery store, Jen’s herb butter blows that out of the water!
3rd Course – Ripert prepared the next 2 dishes which I believe he used to his advantage. The 3rd Course was a charred octopus that featured a black bean-pear sauce and ink-miso vinaigrette. I have had squid before but never octopus so I was a little weary that I may find it too chewy. I should never worry when it comes to Ripert; the octopus was light and tasty, the ink-miso vinaigrette really stood out flavor-wise and the purple basil was both a pretty garnish and tasty accompaniment.
4th Course – Ripert really spotlighted his talent with his 4th course which flowed effortlessly from the previous octopus dish. Striped bass was prepared medallion style with a baby carrot-herb salad and miso butter sauce. You would think that having miso in 2 subsequent courses might seem like overkill but quite the contrary: you could tell miso was in both dishes but the ways it was used simply heightened the dishes and allowed them to complement each other in such an amazing and flavorful way. Purple basil was again a garnish but I find these small touches what makes Ripert a world-renowned chef.
5th Course – Carroll’s rack of lamb came with a quinoa and feta tabbouleh and pomegranate jus. The lamb was cooked to perfection and had just the right amount of fat. While I am not a huge fan of feta I found it went well with the quinoa and pomegranate jus as well. The jus was sweet enough to off-set the slight bitterness of the feta.
6th Course – the dessert course featured a plethora of different tastes: peanut brittle, lemon curd and the cardomon sorbet were the definite stars of this course. The desserts were prepared by the resident pastry chef, Monica Glass.
While the food was the crux of the evening, the highlight was the fact that Ripert and Carroll both made the rounds to the guests dining at 10 ARTS that evening; Ripert was sincerely nice albeit a bit soft-spoken while Carroll was very friendly and complimented my hair AND my Flyers arm band (WEET!) We were able to get pictures with both of them which I felt made for a great birthday present for Sean. While 10 ARTS is Ripert’s restaurant, I think this only seals our fate that at some point we will need to go to Le Bernadin in NYC for the full Ripert experience.