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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Restaurant Week: Petrossian (New York, NY)

NOTE: Here's another one of those long forgotten posts that I am only now putting up. Whoops!

I completely forgot to take a picture of the outside of the restaurant. Prior to arriving was nightmarish, so stopping to take a shot was the farthest thing from my mind.

My friend Mike recently moved back from the west coast, so we agreed to have lunch and catch up. I mentioned restaurant week and after a brief search we settled on Petrossian. A quick Google and I discovered that the restaurant is well known for their caviar, foie gras, and other expensive food items. I also found out that for dress code, a jacket is suggested. No biggie... now I had an excuse to wear something other than my jeans and hoodies.

Our reservation was set for 11:45, but we found out later that it was not necessary. The restaurant was pretty empty when we first arrived, but by the end of our meal it started to fill up. The dining area is decorated with many Art Deco touches and gives off a classy, trapped in time kind of vibe. Our server immediately came over as we sat down and took our drink orders (I had an Argentinean Chardonnay, Mike had a Sherry).


Mike chose the carrot ginger soup for his appetizer, and I went with the smoked salmon. He let me try some of his soup and it wasn't bad. The flavors of the carrot and ginger definitely stood out, but I personally would have liked that the ginger was not so pronounced. I didn't try the rock shrimp (which was also in the soup), but it looked like there was a fair amount of them in the bowl. Mike's opinion? Good, but not something he would think of as an appetizer. He also thought that the soup could be something he could replicate at home.

The Petrossian website describes the process of making their smoked salmon as "cold-smoked in our own smokehouse according to our slow and steady five-day method. Sliced by hand. Fresh, fragrant, truly sublime." I've had my fair share of smoked salmon, and was excited to try their approach.

It was surprising. Confusing. This salmon did not taste smoked. Not one bit. There were no subtle overtones, no smoky notes. Zero. It tasted like sashimi. This could not be right. I had Mike try some just to make sure my taste buds weren't faltering, and he absolutely agreed with me. So did I score some awesome fish, or am I missing something here? I happily made myself salmon sandwiches with the dill, creme fraiche, and toast points.

Next course brought out the Sturgeon burger and the Confit of Duck leg. My only experience with confit anything was my very poor attempt at making some garlic confit (huge and utter failure). It wasn't as oily as I was expecting it may be. The skin was crisp and the meat moist and ohsogood. It was served on a bed of winter vegetables and lentils. All very good, and perhaps giving me an inkling of hope that confit is indeed possible.

Mike enjoyed his Sturgeon burger. Gussied up with mixed greens, and what I think was freshly made mayo (could have been tartar sauce... who knows) it made for an interesting take on a burger. At first he was a bit cautious, after all, this was something he didn't have on a regular basis. But it was delicious and quickly finished it. At one point he asked if I wanted to try a piece, but before I could reply, he finished the part he offered. Next time...

Dessert was chocolate cake and a mint ice cream. Or was it gelato? Either way, it was incredibly light, and you just got a hint of the mint. Quite addictive, really. Our little sampling was definitely not enough so after our meal we made our way to the cafe to see if they had any of the frozen mint delight. To our dismay, they did not... but before leaving, I took a look at their menu.

Hahaha... no thank you. Since it was still pretty early, my friend and I wandered around and did slightly touristy things. We found places that were also participating in Restaurant Week, and swore that we would give them a try. Let's see if that actually happens, shall we?

Oh! Almost forgot this part. So apparently the traditional method of obtaining caviar is to get the fish, rip their bellies open, squeeze out the eggs, and chuck the fish. This is what I heard... whether or not this is actual practice, I have no idea. Anyways, my friend was telling me how America is using a new technique in harvesting caviar. What they do is get the fish, and with the help of a veterinary surgeon, they anesthetize and make a quick incision, take the eggs and them sew them back up. When the anesthesia wears off, they put them back into the oceans. I'm guessing they tag them so they know not to get the same fish twice.

Is that why it's so damn expensive?!?

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