It has been a while since I have dined at an exceptional eatery, that I am enamored with, but I am thrilled to say I have finally found a brilliant new restaurant called 63 Clinton, which is named after the location in the Lower East Side. Sixty Three Clinton is setting new standards due to partners and co-owners, Chef Sam Clonts and Raymond Trinh.
After working at the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare for over 5 years, Samuel Clonts was the youngest chef to receive a Michelin star in North America at the age of 26 as the executive chef of Bar Uchi. Raymond Trinh and Samuel are friends since high school and have worked together for years in New York. Raymond who was trained as a chef is a people person and decided he preferred to oversee the back and front of the house as well as lead the beverage program.
The restaurant offers one tasting menu with seven courses at the reasonable price of $92. You can add a wine pairing for an additional $65.
The food has a vibrancy and complexity of flavours, offering modern and seasonal American fare, plus flavours of Japan, Italy, and around the world. The menu changes seasonally or at the chef’s whim, if you go back the following week you might find a few dishes have been altered.The setting is cool and relaxed with wooden tables and hardwood plank floors, painted brick walls, and black and white photography. The space is split into two sections. The entrance, with white marble floors, has a bar with additional seating and a place where patrons can come in for a drink and order dishes from the bar menu or the entire menu. There is also a chef’s table butted up to the kitchen. What is cool is the kitchen is completely open, they even removed the glass so you can see in, and even engage with the chefs. They have a wood fire grill in the back, which was one of the selling features when they chose this spot. There are small touches of greenery and flowers, and noise-dampening ceiling panels throughout which help lessen the energetic chatter. You can hear the great playlist in the background as well as converse with your dinner guests. They use vintage oversized silverware that they purchased in Paris. The glassware is also wonderful. But the main focus is the food along with the gracious, intimate, and attentive service.
The meal begins with a breakfast taco, which has been on the menu since the opening 6 weeks prior to writing this. I was told this dish will be a mainstay. It is served with ajitama, salsa verde, and trout roe. What a perfect way to start! It made me swoon. There is one additional item that is a mainstay and it’s an extra $55 – a caviar hand roll, prepared tableside by the chef. They had to do a blind tasting until they found the perfect caviar. This one comes from sturgeon in Uruguay and it was a notable highlight. The table next to ours ordered seconds, it is that good. We followed with a tomato done three ways, with lemon cucumber in a toasted sesame dressing. Next up, a buttery hamachi with shiso, melon kosho, and ginger. The dish to follow, a raw blue crystal prawn with the sweetest cream corn and dots of a spicy Calabrian chili oil. Then, a wedge of blanched Caraflex, along with nori and toasted hazelnuts. It was served with an out-of-this-world dark rye sourdough, made using a yeast “mother” Raymond has had for years. The meat course was a Berkshire pork short rib, with shishito and caramelized shallots. For dessert, the chef’s mother’s recipe for blueberry peach pie. Not too sweet, just perfection.
The wine list is an eclectic list of old and new world wines. There are also six selections by the glass as well as some interesting choices of craft cocktails. I had a Shiso Highball, made with vodka, shiso, and sparkling yuzu. David had a Red Carpet Treatment, with gin, lemon, elderflower, and champagne.
The owners have made this place a labour of love, and it shows in all they do. I haven’t found myself this excited about a restaurant in years. It was truly a memorable meal that was pure joy. It was fine dining without the snob appeal.