It is the end of an era in New York, for most luxury restaurants with the exception of a few, like Eleven Madison Park, DANIEL, Jean George, and Le Bernardin. More restaurants of this caliber seem to be closing than opening, and this is fast becoming a distant memory of the past. One exception that breaks this rule is the recent opening of the sophisticated and elegant Gabriel Kreuther. It didn’t hurt that he garnered a fabulous reputation at the Modern, where he was head chef for ten years. He also brought along his pastry chef from there as well as some of his key employees. He has already received a Michelin star and an association with Relais and Chateaux. One of the reasons, is he brought his winning formula and classical European techniques to his own restaurant at 41 West 42nd Street, across from Bryant Park. This is a prime location for theatre gowers. His restaurant presents itself as chic, airy, formal and luxurious, with some beautiful artwork as well. As we were going to the theatre that night, we opted to eat in the bar room – but let me tell you, the food is no less exciting. It’s still upscale, French American cuisine with an Alsatian inspired dining experience – just less formal, less expensive and a lot quicker. There’s an abundant amount of choices for a “bar menu”. The menu is divided into snacks, appetizers, caviar, entrees, Alsatian classics, tarted flambees, desserts and cheeses. The blue covina crudo was small but packed a lot of flavour. The chilled honeydew melon soup with cucumber and lemon verbena was lusciously delicious. A crowd favourite was the peekytoe crab and zucchini flower tarte flambees with a thin crispy crust. It was light, satisfying and delightful. We were all extremely pleased with our inspiring mains. The diver sea scallop ravioli in a lobster emulsion with an added crunch of curried cashew was genuinely a visual delight, as well as tasty. The Black Sea bass in a fennel seed and coriander broth was delicate and perfectly cooked. The grilled squab in a creamy bacon and corn sauce with squash blossoms was divine.
For dessert, the sundae with fresh strawberries and some of the best pistachio ice cream this side of the pond. A signature dessert was the warm freshly made beignet tower with a side of rhubarb marmalade and sitting on top of creamy caramel ice cream. There is a nice craft cocktail and wine list to go along with the fabulous menu. And if you have time to stop next door to Gabriel’s handmade gourmet chocolate store, where you can pick up some French pastries or decadent chocolates. We may not have had some of the incredible opulent creations I spied going into the main dining room but we were still enamored with the complex flavours and creations in the lounge. In fact I can’t wait to go back and spend an evening of fine dining next time.
If you go, be prepared to be wowed by this standout restaurant. The chef is presenting inspired tasting menus as well as a la carte of his signature dishes and some new highlights in an impressive setting. It brings me back to pre Manhatten “crash” days of excess and indulgences. A day of highly skilled grand chefs. It is no surprise then that he has already received the AAA5 Diamond Award, Best New Restaurant in the Village Voice, 3 Stars from the New York Times, and named to the list of the 9 Best New Restaurants in the World by the 2016 Robb Report.