On our recent holiday in the United States one of the things I specifically wanted to do was visit Daniel Boulud’s restaurant Daniel New York. So it was with much excitement, on our second day in New York, we visited Daniel. I have to say it was the most amazing meal of my life.
Daniel Boulud is recognised as one of the United States best Chef’s, and the seemingly endless list of awards are testament to that – Outstanding Restauranteur in 2006, Outstanding Restaurant in 2010 by the James Beard Foundation, Culinary Institute of America 2011 Chef of the Year and in 2006 The President of France made him a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in recognition for his contribution to the advancement of French food and culture. Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant Daniel has also received just as many awards including 3 Michelin stars in 2010, which is the guides highest rating.
Upon arriving at Daniel New York, I was lucky enough to be invited into the upstairs kitchen to take some photos. To say I was excited was an understatement, so much so my hands wouldn’t stop shaking, and when we entered the kitchen I became completely overwhelmed as I couldn’t believe I was allowed into this Michelin starred restaurant kitchen which was recently ranked as the 11th best in the world according to the S.Pelligrino World’s Best 50 restaurants.
John Winterman, maitre d’ at Daniel, escorted us into the kitchen and introduced me to Chef de Cuisine Eddy Leroux and Chef Patissier Dominique Ansel. He explained this kitchen is the smaller of the two kitchens at Daniel, with the kitchen downstairs, which is 3 times larger, being where all the prep work was undertaken. 25 chef’s were working between the two kitchens on the night we dined, preparing food for the 270 guests that were due to dine that night.
Everyone in the kitchen at Daniel New York was professional and quietly and efficiently going about their job like the well oiled machine you would expect from such a highly awarded and regarded restaurant.
I saw canapes being plated as well as the duo of beef and trio of milk fed pig and various desserts, each a work of art, and each looking utterly delicious.
Canapes being plated
Trio of Milk Fed Pig: roasted chop with glazed turnips, braised shoulder cannelloni with cucumber smoked ribs with fennel-avocado coleslaw, vadouvan jus
Duo of Beef: Black Angus Short Ribs with Fava Bean Coulis. Seared Wagyu Tenderloin and Orregon Morels. Tarragon-Spinach Custard with Fiddlehead Ferns
At the dessert station Chef Dominique Ansel and his team were plating a wonderland of beautiful pastry creations. Chef Ansel, whose resume includes working at the legendary Fauchon, was invited by Chef Boulud to move to New York and become Chef Patissier at Daniel in 2006. Since working at Daniel Chef Ansel’s talents have been recognised with numerous awards including in 2007 receiving the award for the Best Dessert menu in the United States as well as being named as one of the top 10 pastry chefs in the United States by Dessert Professional Magazine in 2009. From the amazing desserts I am sure you can see why.
Citrus Marinated Strawberries: Vanilla-Raspberry Gelée, Sablé Breton, Yuzu Sorbet
Caramelia Chocolate Mousse: Brown Sugar Biscuit, Haitian Coffee Cream Toffee-Muscovado Ice Cream
After our tour of the kitchen John escorted us to our table and introduced us to Javier, our wonderful waiter for the evening.
We perused the menu, but ultimately I had already decided what I wanted – to try the vegetarian tasting menu. It’s a rare thing in Australia to find a great restaurant that offers a vegetarian degustation menu, so finding one at one of the top restaurants in the world was an opportunity too good to pass up. My fiance decided on the regular tasting menu, with a few adjustments given his dislike of seafood. Javier was only too happy to comply and came up with a number of alternate options.
To begin our meal we were presented with canapes which included pickled mushroom with pepper, english pea mousse, a beetroot salad with sugar snap peas, and celery and pineapple with radish. Then came our amuse, which was a chilled green asparagus veloute with a mustard vinaigrette and sesame cream. Paired with this was a glass of Pommery Champagne. Sadly, whilst I tried to get photos of these dishes, the candlelight dining was causing problems with me capturing the food at it’s best.
Next I was presented with a Spring Mesculin Salad with Asparagus, Shaved Radishes, Orleans Mustard Vinaigrette and a glass of Domaine Bailly-Reverdy “Chavignol” Sancerre 2010. My fiance had the Rabbit Porchetta with Chorizo, Pickled Saint George’s Mushroom, Orleans Mustard Cream and Artichoke-Frisee Salad. Accompanying it was a glass of J.J. Prum Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2008.
Spring Mesculin Salad with Asparagus: Shaved Radishes, Orleans Mustard Vinaigrette
Rabbit Porchetta with Chorizo: Pickled Saint George’s Mushroom, Orleans Mustard Cream and Artichoke Frisee
One thing I should mention is that when each course was served, two wait staff arrived at the table and served our dishes at the exact same time. This occurred with each course, and each time a glass of wine was served. The staff were amazingly attentive and professional, without being overbearing.
After we were served our dishes, Javier then provided a brief explanation of each dish and then we were told what wine had been paired with the dish and why. It was little touches like these, along with the amazing food, that made the meal so special.
Next course I was presented with a Sweet Pepper Ragout with Chickpea Panisse and my fiance with a Celery and Fennel Gazpacho with avocado, radish and tapioca pearls. Before the dishes arrived, my fiance mentioned he wasn’t sure he would like the gazpacho, as he does not like avocado, when it arrived however, and he had his first taste, he changed his mind and mentioned how he loved the surprise of the tapioca pearls at the bottom. I loved the sweet pepper ragout, it was delicious with a beautiful smokey sweetness from the roasted peppers. The chickpea panisse were beautiful too. Something I have to try at home. To accompany our food we were both served a glass of Domaine de la Citadelle, Luberon Rose 2010.
Sweet Pepper Ragout with Chickpea Panisse: Mustard Salad and Garbanzo Beans
Celery & Fennel, Gazpacho: Avocado, Radish, Tapioca Pearls, Thyme Tuile and Espelette Pepper
For the next course we both had the Morbier Ravioli with Mousseron Mushroom, Lambsquarters (a leafy green vegetable) and Pink Peppercorn and a glass of Domaine Bernard Gripa St Peray 2006. The Morbier (a semi soft cows milk cheese) Ravioli melted in your mouth, and the mousseron mushrooms were surprisingly and deliciously full flavoured for their petite size.
As we were enjoying our ravioli Chef Boulud stopped by our table and to say hello. For most people meeting a Hollywood celebrity would be an amazing moment in their life, but meeting such a talented chef will go down as one of the great moments in my life. I have to admit though I was so surprised and shocked when I met him I was a little lost for words. After Chef Boulud left, I looked at my fiance in amazement and said “I just met Daniel Boulud” because I just couldn’t believe it. In fact I still can’t!
During the ravioli I was feeling very full and wondering how I was going to eat any more. I was also barely able to have more than a sip or two of the wine accompanying each course, so we asked Javier if we could have a break, knowing we still had 2 courses to go. He was only too happy to oblige. I think, in my excitement in wanting to try the tasting menu I didn’t think about how I was going to eat so much food, as well as the unexpected 4 canapes, amuse and bread we were presented before our meal even started!
After a break, we were presented with our next course – stuffed leeks with caramelised cipollini for me and a tasting of veal for my fiancé. The stuffed leeks were delicious and rich, thanks to the Syrah sauce. To accompany my stuffed leeks I was served a glass of Copain “Tous Ensemble” Pinot Noir 2008 and my fiance was served a glass of Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape “Cuvee Tradition” 2004.
Stuffed Leeks with Caramelised Cipollini: Potato Confit, Syrah Sauce
Tasting of Veal: Roasted Tenderloin with Eggplant Puree, Braised Cheeks with Glazed Zucchini and CrispySweetbreads with Caper Caponata
Javier then brought out a Duo of Beef for my fiancé and the Fricassee of Oregon Morels with Fava Beans, tarragon-spinach custard and fiddlehead ferns for me. I think the wine had affected me by this time because for some inexplicable reason I don’t have a photo of the duo of beef, however if you look to the photos from the kitchen above, you will see a photo of the dish taken in the kitchen. I think the wine had also affected my photos too, so I’m sorry for that because the food really did look amazing.
To accompany both dishes we were served a glass of J.L. Chave Selection Saint Joseph “Offerus”.
I’d never had fiddlehead ferns before, as I’ve not seen them for sale in Australia, so I was keen to try them. Fiddleheads have a grassy flavour, which reminded me somewhat of asparagus.
Fricassee of Oregon Morels with Fava Bean: Tarragon-Spinach Custard, Stuffed Young Potato and Fiddlehead Ferns
After we finished our dishes Javier asked whether we would like the items on our tasting menu for dessert or whether we would leave it up to him to surprise us. Knowing I probably would only fit one or two bites in of dessert I went with the dessert item from my tasting menu, which was fruit based. My fiancé decided he would go with Javier’s surprise.
After Javier disappeared to the kitchen we laughed about the predicament we were in given that we were so full we couldn’t eat any more, but we knew we were going to be served up some wonderful pastry creations that would be too difficult to refuse. When dessert eventually arrived we both couldn’t help but burst out laughing, because Javier decided he would spoil us and gave us two desserts each. Yes, 2 desserts each!!! I didn’t know how I was going to eat one dessert, let alone two!
Citrus Marinate Strawberries: Vanilla-Raspberry Gelée, Sablé Breton, Yuzu Sorbet
Spice Poached Cherries, Pistachio Feuilletine: Mascarpone-Brandied Cherry Ice Cream
We also tried the warm guanaja chocolate coulant with liquid caramel, Fleur de Sel and Milk Sorbet, but as I was about to take a photo Javier arrived with Petit Fours and in my excitement I forgot to take a photo, but let me tell you the coulant was AMAZING!!! I love salted caramel anything, so despite being beyond full, I had to make room to try some. The citrus marinated strawberries were fantastic too, as was the yuzu sorbet served with it, and the spiced poached cherries were sweet and delicious with the slight warmth of spices.
Just when we thought it wasn’t possible to have anymore food, Javier arrived with handmade chocolates! Sadly, we had to turn these away as we just couldn’t eat anything else, the same with the freshly baked orange madeleines that Javier arrived with shortly after, however Javier boxed these up for us to take with us, along with the petit fours, which we enjoyed the next day for breakfast.
Dining at Daniel is not just a meal, it’s a dining experience, but it does come with a price tag, as you would expect. Having said that though, if food is your thing, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a visit to Daniel should you be in New York. We enjoyed it so much that next time we are in New York we won’t hesitate to dine there again, however we won’t be so ambitious as to go with the tasting menu, because there was just so much food, although I know Javier looked after us with a few extra dishes to sample.
So tell me, what was the best meal of your life and why?
Daniel New York
60 E. 65th St.,
New York, NY 10021
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