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DELMONICO'S, 56 Beaver St at William Street, New York, NY 10004,  Phone: (212) 509-1144


MyBestNewYorkNY -  Dinner at Delmonico's - Chef Rick Laakkonen - May 2009:                      

Overview:

We are not really that into steak houses, but when one of our all time favorite chefs, the super talented Chef Rick Laakkonen (River Cafe, ILO, etc.) was cooking at this historic establishment, we followed.

Rick Laakkonen is one of the few chefs that has, throughout the years, made us giddy with joy (or has brought tears of joy into our eyes) while eating his food.

Story: A close friend of ours, who practically never eats meat, was more than willing to join us for dinner at Delmonico's: This is because once, at a multi-course tasting,  she "open-mindedly" decided to at least taste meat that was prepared by chef Laakkonen ... which dish she wound up devouring - and then ate half of mine, too!

Chef Rick Laakkonen turned Delmonico's" into a destination restaurant for "foodies". The menu still consisted of mostly  traditional Delmonico's steak house cuisine, but now there was some "Laakkonen" dishes on there, too.
But even the traditional dishes were excellent, and to everyone who does not eat red meat, the news were good: a) Delmonico's also serves fish- & seafood dishes and serves specials that also contain fish dishes; b) this Chef cooks fish & seafood like nobody's business.

We had a fantastic dinner there in early May 2009. The food - well, it was delicious.  See description of the dishes in the right column.

Again, Chef Laakkonen just made us grin happily -like kids getting their favorite candy. Rick
Laakkonen has (always had) a gift for bringing
out / balancing the flavors; exact, full, crisp. No
matter how "casual" a dish of his looks; in our experience it always surprises you with how flavorful and perfectly cooked it is. My husband, who only eats fish and seafood, is especially grateful: throughout the past decade (+) every single plate of fish, cooked by Chef Laakkonen, has been a source of joy.

Unlike the stereotype about steak house staff,
Delmonico's  seemed like a very friendly and accommodating restaurant. We felt welcome
& well taken care of throughout the whole dinner.

The room is from an older era - which actually
is very refreshing in today's restaurant design atmosphere where all rooms seem to be either
super "sleek" or made to look "distressed". Of course many such spaces work, and there are some that we like a lot, but - maybe not so surprisingly- we found it pleasantly different to find ourselves in an old, very traditional dining room. In a twisted way, it felt "hip". Maybe because it is so different today. We really enjoyed the "opulence"; the warm, even dark tones; warm, softening fabrics; the beautiful paintings, some of them huge; and the perfect, warm lighting. (Have I said "warm" enough times yet?)

The tables were beautifully set and the chairs were comfortable. Trough the whole evening, we found ourselves admiring this space; we could not get over how "cozy" it was, and it actually made us feel relaxed.

Even though the main course portions were very large, quantity did nottrump quality:
At Delmonico's, with Rick Laakkonen at the helm, the food was quite delicious.

           ********************

It seems as if there have been changes in
Delmonico's kitchen and that there is a new chef
in charge now. We do not yeat know how the food
is now or where to find one of our all time favorite
chefs now.





DELMONICO'S
56 Beaver St at William Street
New York, NY 10004 
Phone: (212) 509-1144



Graphic rendering of the historic Delmonico's & surrounding streets:

Restaurant Delmonico's, Financial District, Manhattan NY
Corner of Beaver & William Streets; Delmonico's Restaurant.

Click on images to enlarge.


The Delmonico building in moonlight,
Delmonico's William Beaver Streets New York NY
the restaurant's doorway bright and inviting.

                  ********************

Delmonico's wine book is heavily weighted   towards Cabernet Sauvignon: page after page of California cabs, followed by Bordeaux, perhaps to be expected at a steak house. We understand that Delmonico's has one of the world's great sommeliers, and we would hope that the list develops to enable more nuanced wine accents to Chef Laakkonen's masterful food preparation. We would express this opinion even if Delmonico's served nothing but steak. But Delmonico's also serves great fish and let's not forget about its world famous Lobster Newburgh.
 
Putting Laakkonen in the kitchen was a commitment to refinement, and we hoped that the list will soon develop to embrace the many subtle reds that go with seafood and fish. Certain Burgundies leaped to mind as did certain Italian reds, many of which have the subtlety and acidity to create an interesting counterpoint to the non red meat dishes on the menu. If I were serving lobster, I would have a broad range of Chassagne and Puligny Montrachets and Mersaults on the list.
 
Because Saturdays do not seem to be busy, the   sommelier appears to be off duty. We look forward to the time when Delmonico's becomes a Saturday night experience and a time when the wine selection displays the creative efforts of a  sommelier  working in concert with a master chef.



Appetizers:

Lobster Bisque  
- Warm Lobster Salad And American Caviar
Wonderful lobster flavors in the soup, which -thankfully- was not too creamy at all. The lobster salad and the caviar gave it additional flavors and texture.
This is easily the best lobster bisque we have ever tasted. This, of course, was not surprising: after all, we were eating food prepared by the man whose dish, the "Tidal Pool" (at his ILO restaurant) was just phenomenal. We still dream about it. And now, I would go back to Delmonico's just for this bisque.
 

Mid courses:

Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio
- Avocado, Hearts Of Palm, Tomago
Spicy Pepper And Eggplant Purees
This dreamily tender beef tenderloin carpaccio just melted in the mouth, parting with such succulent and delicate flavors in the process that I wanted to savor every single bite.
The little "garnishes" (or should I say: delightful, perfectly placed little bites of  texture and  complementing  flavors)  worked well, making the whole thing just a pure joy (ilo) to eat.  I need to go back for more of this, too.

Blue Crab Cake
-Fried Baby Artichoke And Saffron Aioli
The large, delicious cakes consisted of only crab meat -super fresh, tender crab meat, and were only lightly "breaded" on the outside. The  baby artichokes and the aioli worked well with the crab meat. Yes, we would happily go have more of this, too...

Main courses:

Delmonico Steak
-Meyer’s All Natural Angus Boneless Rib Eye, fried onion
I had it almost black and blue. Do I even need to say it? Superb. I do not eat steak very often, but I have to admit that I was having a revelation here: You could really taste that this was seriously high quality meat. What a difference. I do not know what was in the rub, but it tasted delicious. I took half of this delicacy home.

1876 Lobster Newburg
-Sauce a’ la Wenberg
Perfect, best Lobster Newburg we have tasted. This dish, as all other main courses, was generously sized (we walked out carrying several "doggie bags"); Delmonico's does not skimp on the lobster.
I was happy to see that there actually exists such a thing like a Lobster Newburg that is not drowned in a cream sauce. And the (not too heavy at all) sauce at Delmonico's was delicious.
Our guest was in bliss over this one (and she took half of it home: yes, it was still very tasty the next day).

Grilled trout
-sauteed mushrooms, greens, caramelized  onions, garlic.

Quite delicious. Clearly a "Laakkonen" fish.
Tender, moist, mouthwatering flavors.
The garnishes were great. My husband could not stop eating this, even though this one also was a large portion.

Sides: (as if we needed any)
Asparagus gratin, Delmonico's Fingerling potatoes.

Dessert:
Baked Alaska  
Almond Cake, Apricot, Banana Ice Cream
If you like Baked Alaska, you will be very happy at Delmonico's. I guess all the "copycats" just do not have the excat, delicious recipe - or the skill to prepare it just right. Maybe Delmonico's has a brilliant dessert chef? What ever the reason is, I had  an "aha" moment with this (dessert) dish, too.

Dessert drink: Inniskillin Icewine (Great with the Alaska).


                        ... to be continued...

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