Monday, April 02, 2007

Gotham Bar & Grill - An afternoon with Alfred Portale

I'd read about the bloke. Numerous times. And then I discovered that Alfred Portale runs one of NYC's finest and most 'Manhattan' kitchens, Gotham B&G. The missus said she'd always wanted to go so I booked a table straight away and invited a couple of our friends making four in total.

Portale used to be a jewellery designer, and he applies his artisitic instincts beautifully to his food. He graduated from CIA and trained in France with the likes of Michel Guerard and Troisgros brothers, shortly before he became master of the 'vertical dinner' when he returned to the US and opened Gotham B&G. His food really is beautiful. Perhaps it was the combination of flavour and immaculate presentation that won him honours in 1993 as Best Chef in NY, and then Gotham won over the James Beard Foundation and it was named best restaurant in NY in 1994. We were stoked when we walked into the bar spitting feathers and ordered a round of house champagne. Service was prompt and flawless. This could only bode well for our lunch, and I was dreaming of a procession of stunning plates and some fabulous food. You can check out GB&G's lunch menu here.

Of course, Jason and I picked the terrine (I'm a sucker for anything with foie gras in.) The ladies chose nothing for appetiser as they wanted to keep some room back for main course and Portale's legendary desserts. Jason chose the Hawaiian prawns, Jessica got the Asian cod dish, and the missus orders what she always does, the boring cow - steak.

Good Lord, that terrine was sumptuous. Chunks of duck breast, interspersed with earthy rich foie gras and it was indeed a decadent mouthful. I didn't want it to end. But it did. I still had the main course to look forward to though, and it arrived shortly afterwards, looking like heaven on Earth:

Jessica's black cod was delightful, the Asian/Thai flavours augmenting and not masking the fish, salty soy, exotic lemongrass and ginger. Despite what I said earlier, I simply HAD to try Serena's steak. I mean, it just looked so damn good:

I couldn't fault anything that came out of the kitchen (I even remember spending 5 mins waxing lyrical abou the butter on the table) and the service was impeccable. Then came the dessert. A work of art in itself:

I will certainly be going back. Prices are reasonable if one doesn't hammer the wine. We had two great bottles, one each of red and white, and the bill came to roughly $400 with tip. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Portale.

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