Saturday, November 1, 2008

C’est Magnifique!

I have lived on the Upper East Side for over a year, and have passed this restaurant many times. Each time, I had a different excuse for not stopping in. “I don’t know… it’s late and the food seems heavy”, “I don’t know… it looks really expensive, let’s just do something cheap and local…”, “Meh…I don’t think I’m dressed the part… some other time, maybe”, etc. So finally, Ron and I decided to plan a date to L’Absinthe. And we did not regret it.

We sat at our table, and as we began to peruse the menu, the waiter brought us a plate with two hot parmesan encrusted biscuits. It was then that I knew that this was going to be a good night. Fluffy inside, and cheesy and crusty outside. Yum! They also brought fresh baguette bread and butter. I normally don’t comment on bread because usually it is nothing special, but this time, it was hot and super soft inside and the outside was crisp and flaking all over the table. Our table must have looked like a crumby disaster when we were done, but it was so worth it.

For our first course, we decided to share the Casserole of Fresh Peas (pictured - I apologize for the photo quality, as these were taken with an iPhone) which is a dish of pea dumplings (think soft pea gnocci), English peas, pea shoots, and pieces of chicken wings in a savory chicken broth base. This dish was so flavorful, and the chicken was incredibly tender and juicy. The dish is small to share, but it was a wonderful beginning to our meal. We nearly licked the plate clean, the broth was so good. At the same time, we also had our second helping of the fresh baguette.

For our main courses, Ron ordered the Orange Marinated and Glazed Black Cod (pictured) which came with corn cilantro pancakes and bok choy. His fish was really excellent. Very moist and flaky, and the citrus flavor was infused throughout the fish which gave it amazing flavor. According to the waitress, the fish is marinated in the orange marinade overnight so that it really soaks up all that citrus goodness. And the pancakes were very interesting. Ron has a severe distaste for cilantro, so that was the deal breaker for him, but I thought they were quite good.

For my dish, I ordered the Papillote of Salmon in Phyllo Dough with Vegetable Minestrone Couscous and arugula dressing (pictured). This was unusual for me, because I’ve never had salmon wrapped in fried phyllo before. It was a really unique combination and I enjoyed the amalgam of textures within this dish. The vegetable minestrone with large couscous pearls was delightful. Whatever type of stock the side dish was cooked in made it really savory (I wonder if it was similar to the broth in the casserole) and it was really tasty.

And if we weren’t piggy enough, we decided that we needed to see how the restaurant fared on the dessert front, if the meal was any indication. Ron ordered the Warm Crust Dark Chocolate Cake with Carmelized Bananas and Rum Sorbet (pictured), which was outrageous. The cake was decadent and chocolaty without being “too” rich. And we’ve never had rum sorbet before – so the cold creaminess with the hint of alcohol was surprising.

I ordered their special dessert of the day which was a mint soufflé with a warm vanilla sauce. The soufflé was very fluffy and light and the mint added a really distinct flavor. The desserts did not disappoint, and as a wonderful added bonus, we got a plate of homemade chocolate truffles (pictured) when we ordered tea or coffee. The truffles were delightfully cool, and melted in your mouth.

We thoroughly enjoyed everything we ate at this restaurant, and the service was pleasant and attentive as well – especially since we didn’t have a reservation. I would highly recommend L’Absinthe for your next romantic dinner, celebration, or anytime you just want a really delicious meal.

L’Absinthe; 227 E 67th St, 10065

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