NEW YORK, NY
Traffic. Traffic. I hate traffic. Unfortunately that is what I was faced with tonight on my ride to Four Twenty Five. I was not too worried about the food and libations as I had already been in for after dinner drinks by the bar prior. As I waited in traffic, all I was thinking was, “I really cannot wait to take a sip of that tequila and mezcal negroni”. Finally I arrived at the restaurant and I was met with warm greetings at the door and an expansive space with high ceilings. That Christmas tree… I forgot how much I loved that Christmas tree from the last time I was in here.
It is dimly lit in here with wooden tones and the brightest light coming from the candle shaped lights on the bar. The dining room is upstairs and I opted to take the stairs. I did not realize how long the sheer overlay of my dress was so I definitely almost tripped a few times but I made it in the end to the top. Walking in the space was absolutely magical with the chandelier being the star of the show. The chandelier is artwork if I have ever seen one and is alone worth a visit to the restaurant just for this viewing alone. Selfies anyone? Like the bar area downstairs, the dining room too is dimly lit with two large center placed vases with what looks like feathers but I am sure they are not. There is also an open kitchen though I do not have a front and center view. I will be sure to request that next time I come around.
My negroni came out and this tasted far too good in my mouth. It tasted like salvation and made me forget instantaneously the manic rage I was feeling about the traffic. Quite soon after the Negroni came out, I received my amuse bouche. It was a polenta cake with shave parmeggiano and mushroom. It was really hot so it took a moment to process but this is one of those bites that satisfaction comes at the end. It is almost like delayed gratification… a slow burn if you will. The polenta was the perfect base for the bite giving a rustic flavor to the otherwise rich and umami flavors. Wonderful.
The tasting menu started quick promptly thankfully. The first dish was caviar with egg yolk and fried potato cakes. The potato cakes were interestingly cooked in beef fat so that definitely made me curious. Trying each component individually, the wow for me was interestingly enough the potato cakes. Now altogether though, it is mind blowing. I love how the caviar is not boldly the star of the show. It kind of has a peekaboo effect at the end of the bite. This was as fun as it was delicious to eat. I love it.
I hate hate hate mackerel… with a passion. I cannot stress enough how much I abhor this fish. BUT this is always my test for a good chef. That is to say, can you make me enjoy something that I hate. I was poured a 2021 Chenin Blanc to pair so I figured if nothing else, this wine would save the day. They are using glassware from Gabriel glas which I have never heard of before. This family is from Austria so basically in competition with Zalto but at a fraction of the cost. I thought to myself that I might invest in these being as that I have been looking to replace my stemware at home for quite some time. The mackerel is barely touched served in a beech mushroom vinaigrette. I did not have any particular feeling for each of the components individually except to note that it was definitely mackerel with that extra fishy taste on the finish and I am still definitively not a fan. Now tasting all components altogether, we definitely have something here. The vinaigrette is lively and supersedes that final fishy taste that I hate. Pairing the bite with the chenin blanc was absolute heaven. The flavor of the wine became so light and all flavors of fruit fell to that background. I guess it was the saltiness of the vinaigrette that brought about that magic. Okay chef… you win on this one.
Next up was the agnolotti with brown butter and shiitake. I do not hate agnolotti but it is definitely not my favorite pasta. Now brown butter and shiitake? Who can ever say no to that! Everything stood out on its own, even the agnolotti. It was filled, I think with pumpkin and there was deliciousness to be had all around. Now taking a bite with all components as one, there is not one aspect that overpowers the other. This is a beautiful thing as it means there is cohesion and thoughtfulness put towards the makeup of the dish. This was beautiful art on the palate… just beautiful. I did not get to taste it until the end but there are these sweet crunchy cookies on the plate which bring the dish from beautiful to ecstasy.
Next up was the steamed sea bass with mushrooms. I think they said winter mushrooms but I cannot be sure. To be honest, I do not know what to make of this plate. It has all the elements of a great dish. All the components taste good individually and there is cohesion when had together but there is something that is just not registering ecstasy to me on this one. You know what I think it is. Since I learned how to make phenomenal black bass at home from the legend of seafood, Eric Ripert, I compare everything to that. It was good though. I like the dynamic that the sesame brings to the flavors of the plate. Enjoyable.
The final savory course was the American Wagyu tenderloin with pistachio crusted broccoli. Every component ingredient is music to my ears. I tasted the pistachio crust and while it was absolutely delicious, I tasted no pistachio. Instead, this was rich and filling and all encompassing on the palate. The tenderloin is rare and is equally fun to play around with with my cutlery as it is to look at. Honestly, I spent a good minute tapping on it to match the beat of the music playing in my ears. Now that there is the mark of perfection… what can I say? Having it altogether, the broccoli is far and away the winner on the plate. It introduces a bitterness that is perfect to cut through the very minor fat of the tenderloin and the decadent richness of the jus. This was paired with an absolutely delicious Barolo but I do not believe it brought any transformation to the dish. For that reason, I set it aside to enjoy after I was done eating. One word summary… amazing.
Finally we came to dessert and I was beyond stuffed. My saving grace was the fact that I knew I was going to go downstairs to the bar and ask for off menu drinks to settle my stomach. Dessert was caramel cremé with ice cream and a crumble. Being as that I do not have a sweet tooth (which you all know by now), I knew this was going to be a dip and lick type situation. Wait… I just heard that in my head and it sounds really dirty… and yet still hilarious. I apologize to anyone offended by that. It has all the elements of heaven and not too sweet actually. I am unfortunately just too full so I will have to save enjoying this thoroughly for another day.
Now I am off downstairs to spend time with the oh so sweet bartenders. Well I am actually going to test their cocktail making skills. Wish me luck!