Picholine – A Luxurious, Delicious Gem of a Restaurant

My photographs from my recent dinner at Picholine are terrible, but that’s because the lighting is soft and romantic.

Make no mistake…the food is nearly as good as it is at Daniel. I was shocked at how amazing it is.

The service is comfortable and friendly, and with very few missteps (forgetting a spoon here, misplacing a dish there), quite good.

Now, let’s get into it, shall we?

First off: the room.

A jewel box. A symphony in dove and lilac. Sparkling crystal chandeliers. Cozy banquettes where lovers, old and young, are seated cheek to cheek over sparkling glasses of rose champagne. Old fashioned and lovely.

The clientele: Your parents. Possibly your grandparents. And, on this night, Alan Alda. Yes, America’s national treasure, Alan Alda.

The food: Any number of set courses or tasting menus. Here are a few of the in every way flawless morsels that we devoured:

20141219_194227 Olive and fennel financier

Warm and subtle, with no overt licorice or olive tastes. Merely yeasty and fragrant with a vague earthy sweetness, studded with salty, juicy bits. My husband, who likes neither olives nor fennel, calls this “the perfect amuse bouche.” 20141219_195245 Bread

At first I thought that this was a misstep, but later, I saw that the bread is served room temperature on purpose. It’s a surprisingly, salty, savory baguette, with briny green olives and a yeasty interior, but if it were warm, it would take away from the exceptional cheeses served on the cheese cart.  20141219_195558 Warm apple cider with veggie crisp

Like a hug from a very wealthy grandma. Decadent and comforting.
20141219_200154 Seared foie gras

At least as delicious as that served at Daniel and Jean Georges, if not a million times better. Served in a delicate miso broth that is sweet, complimenting the foie’s delicate flavors, this is what foie should be. Soft, salty, buttery, creamy, melty, luxurious. It requires no overt ingredients, like truffle or sweet accompaniments, to make it shine. As you spoon off each bite of foie, its flavor infuses the broth and at the end you are left with a foie flavored miso broth that is pretty much what heaven would taste like. Please don’t miss this foie. It even makes versions in Paris cower at its glory.
20141219_200232 Uni panna cotta

One of Picholine’s signature dishes, and with good reason. Ever y bite is like a visit to the seashore. Smooth, creamy custard over wonderfully fresh and briny uni. Teh topper is a heaping quenelle of caviar, each tiny egg popping with a savory salinity that juxtaposes the sweet custard. They don’t skimp on the luxurious ingredients, which helps make the hefty price tag seem justifiable.  20141219_202126 Pastrami skate with mustard and sauerkraut

Unexpected, uninhibited, and delicious. Crunchy, breadcrumb crusted skate, seared until it’s still juicy but with a crispy exterior. When paired with the warm, punchy sauerkraut and the cool mustard remoulade, it’s a well-balanced melange of flavors, textures, and temperatures. It’s exactly what I didn’t expect at this elegant, French influenced restaurant.  20141219_205250 The cheese cart

Terrance Brennan’s piece de resistance. The best cheese cart in the city, I’mn now convinced – Artisanal be damned. This doesn’t rely on any fondues or nouveau accompaniments. It’s just fantastic cheese. Stinky, creamy, mild, sharp, grassy, cow, sheep, pasteurized, teeming with delicious bacteria…whatever you want, it’s here! The excellent cheese sommelier is helpful and evocative in her descriptions. Don’t miss the wonderful, soft, orange-scented raisins with at least one full fat, creamy  cheese.  20141219_210937 Mignardises

I mean, are these little afer dinner sweets ever not exactly what you wanted? None of these stand out as memorable, but hat could be because I was still in a cheese-fueled lactose haze.

Picholine is a special occasion restaurant hat deserves way more accolades than it gets. It’s as expensive as top-tier restaurants and just as delicious. The service is perhaps a tad less polished than its more illustrious counterparts and the cocktail list is very sad, but the food is exceptional.

Thank you so much to my incredibly romantic husband for surprising me with a date night that I will remember for many years to come.

It almost makes up for that time that you made me watch “How it’s Made: Heated Flooring.”

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