Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Henry’s: A Remembrance

The first great meal I ever had was at a little place called Henry’s in Bridgehampton, in August of 1999. The restaurant was headed by Paul Del Favero, who had just left Nick and Toni’s to open his own place.

Seven years later I still remember most of the meal, though some of the details have faded away. I had a wonderful mussel soup appetizer and for an entrée, a baby beet salad with quail and foie gras. I was not fond of beets (and still am not), but I ordered the dish because I wanted to try foie gras. The piece of foie gras that I got was a bit small, not much bigger than a quarter, really. But it was great—seared (almost over cooked) on the outside, melting and rich on the inside.

My—then new—wife had a sampler of different pâtés. She hated most of them. It was really funny how much. For an entrée she had a “Delmonico” steak, I believe, which came with a side of marrow in the bone. She loved the steak, wouldn’t touch the marrow. I don’t remember if I did.

I don’t quite recall the desserts. I vaguely remember a crème brulee for myself, something with lemon for my wife.

One highlight of the meal was that my wife kept ordering drinks, didn’t like any of them, and kept giving them to me. I recall a Long Island Iced Tea and at least one glass of wine. I know there were others. I was so inexperienced with food then. When the waiter asked if we wanted any cocktails before dinner, I asked “What do you have?” What a dope.

Henry’s is no longer there. I forget what it is now. I pass by the location, every now and then. I think the place has changed hands a number of times since we were there. Paul Del Favero left at least by 2001 and is now with Bobby Flay at Mesa Las Vegas.

As I said, I don’t like beets. But I did that night. The experience was so great, so much fun, that I enjoyed everything. It was our first time at a good restaurant, my first time for foie gras, lots of drinks, and we were just starting out on our marriage. It is the one meal I’d like to relive, if I could. If I ever meet Del Favero I want to tell him what his restaurant meant to me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

High Praise for New Southold Restaurant

Peter Gianotti gives very high marks to The North Fork Table & Inn.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Review: Mirabelle

I’ve eaten here now twice. The first time was a couple years ago, so I couldn’t really base a review on that first experience. But the wife and I went back recently.

The first time we ordered from the a la carte menu. My appetizer was perhaps the best appetizer I’ve ever had—a take on pot au feu, with lobster in a lemongrass broth. My entrée was the Duck Mirabelle. It was a great deal—duck in two courses for $36. The duck confit course (in my case the second one), was a bit tough, but the dish was still quite good, overall. The Duck Mirabelle is still on the menu, the pot au feu, unfortunately, is not.

On the latest visit we tried the tasting menu, which at the time was $80. Rather than go through each course, I’ll only mention a few things.

The terrine of lobster, shrimp and scallops was not great. It tastes like something you'd find at a grocery store deli. The texture is cold and mushy, and it’s served with other cold and soft items: wasabi mayo and a frisee salad dressed with lemon juice or a lemon juice vinaigrette. I had to take bites of bread just for a change in texture.

Snails in puff pastry with tomato concasse and a basil cream sauce was wonderfully balanced in terms of the flavors, but the snails themselves had almost no taste.

The black-pepper-crusted lamb loin was all right, but it was inexplicably served with a rhubarb marmalade, which did not go with the lamb at all and was surprisingly overpowering in flavor.

Another course was seared foie gras, which for some reason was sitting in, essentially, a bowl of miso soup. Didn’t get that. The miso, of course, sapped the foie gras of any crispness it may once have had.

The tasting menu was eight courses, but the last four courses were essentially desserts: a selection of cheeses, soufflé, sorbet, and a more traditional dessert. I don't really care about desserts, in general, and to have half of a tasting menu be desserts was disappointing.

The first time I went to Mirabelle I thought it was wonderful. It was one of my early experiences with the better restaurants on Long Island. But now, having tried most of the best places, the wife and I were both disappointed after this second visit. When we were leaving, the wife asked which was my favorite dish. I couldn’t answer. Not a single dish stood out. It was all fine, all decent but, in the end, underwhelming.

404 North Country Road
St. James

4 out of 5 stars