Picholine

March 1, 2007

Picholine
35 West 64th Street
212-724-8585
http://www.picholinenyc.com 

On February 28, 2007, Linda, Roan and I dined at Picholine before a first-rate performance of Eugene Onegin at The Metropolitan Opera. The bar in front was crowded and noisy, but our table in the back was an oasis of calm, which is certainly a fine, and all too unusual, attribute for a New York restaurant. Picholine has recently been redecorated, but, fortunately, there wasn’t a real change in the subdued atmosphere.  

We ordered a bottle of 2002 Freemark Abbey Viognier, which was nicely characteristic of this grape and served well as apéritif and with our first course. The amuse-gueule was a little piece of sea bass ceviche and an excellent little dish of mushroom pannacotta.  picho-1.jpg

Linda’s starter was an excellent signature dish of the restaurant 

picholine05.jpg

SEA URCHIN PANNA COTTA
Chilled Ocean Consommé and Caviar 

The dish combined three flavors of the sea: the mild, but rich, base of sea urchin was highlighted by the fishy saltiness of the caviar. The gelée of clear shellfish broth gave a third dimension. Little crisp wafers were served with it to provide a texture contrast. picho-2.jpg

Roan’s starter was the  

PEEKYTOE CRAB SALAD
Textures of Grapefruit and Mint Chutney 

And mine the 

NANTUCKET BAY SCALLOPS SASHIMI
Watermelon Radish, Apple and Fresh Wasabi. 

These were real Nantucket Bay scallops which come from a small area of southern New England for just a few winter months. While I know to cook them only briefly, when I can find them, I had never had them raw before. But why not? We eat oysters and clams raw. The garnishes went picho-3.jpgperfectly and the fresh wasabi was not too piquant.  

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With our main course we had a bottle of 2004 Rozak Pinot Noir, which was surprisingly good and seemed as if it had more age than it did. 

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picho-4.jpgLinda and Roan had the  

MILLBROOK VENISON
Parsnip “Pain Perdu” and Huckleberry Jus 

The venison was very tender and flavorful, undoubtedly fresh from the Hudson Valley and not frozen from New Zealand like most restaurant venison. The two triangular slices of pain perdu provided a light spiciness to offset the richness of the meat. 

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I enjoyed the 

LICORICE LACQUERED SQUAB
Rhubarb, Baby Turnips and “Saupiquet” Ravioli 

The squab could have had a crisper skin, but was moist and flavorful. The rhubarb chutney was superb and went well with the squab. A Google search for Saupiquet turned up a wide variety of answers. My guess is that it was an onion compote, but it, and the little turnips, were pretty without adding much.  picho-5.jpg

Since we were going to the opera, we didn’t order dessert, but a very nice selection of mignardises was brought which fulfilled the role with our espressos.   

picho-6.jpgThe cuisine and overall ambience at Picholine is so enjoyable that we should go back some time for the tasting menu after the pre-Lincoln Center crowd has left. In season Picholine is known for its real wild game, but tonight the venison and squab were both farmed, but fresh. There is an extensive cheese tray, which they take a bit too seriously, but it would be fun to try some of the more unusual cheeses.  

P I C H O L I N E  “C L A S S I C STASTING MENU 

picho-7.jpgSEA URCHIN PANNA COTTA
Chilled Ocean Consommé and Caviar

* * * * *

CHESTNUT-FENNEL SOUP

Pheasant Boudin and Walnut Chutney

* * * * *

HAND-HARVESTED SEA SCALLOPS

Blood Orange Grenobloise and Cauliflower

* * * * *

WILD MUSHROOM AND DUCK RISOTTO

Butternut Squash and Black Truffle Butter

* * * * *

JAMISON FARM LAMB SADDLE

picho-8.jpgArtichokes Barigoule and Sweet Garlic

* * * * *

“THE CHEESE PLATE”

Selection of Cave-ripened Artisanal Cheeses

* * * * *

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE

Peanut Butter Sorbet and Malt Foam 

Left: Linda and Roan leave Picholine and stop by the Lincoln Center fountain in front of The Metropolitan Opera House. 

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