NYC Restaurant Review: Daniel (65th & Park)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I had to go to NYC for a work trip. While there, I treated myself to an especially indulgent meal, a type of Merry Christmas to me sort of thing. Have you ever taken yourself out to a fancy meal? I found it rather empowering, albeit lonely. Armed with my camera, notebook, and pen, I set off for my dinner. This post includes my words and images from that night. NOTE: The photos aren't the greatest of quality because of the low, low, low light and my refusal to use flash. You may have to use your imagination in some of them.

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The evening was brisk, but not cold. I was hungry and needed to get out and experience a good meal. I did a quick search for 5 star places nearby and opted to go on an adventure. I didn't bother checking the dress code. I figured my new dark skinny jeans and a nice top with a draped scarf would do. 

Beautifully decorated, the hostess table set about twenty five feet from the door, I realized this was a place for lovers. A high-end French culinary experience, I chose to come here because of the high rating. I did NOT have a reservation. *gasp* However, they were graciously accommodating nevertheless.

I was seated in the corner of the lower end dining, near the curtain partition. I was warned that I would be sharing my couch-seat since another couple was expected. Had I browsed the actual menu, I would have noticed that they only offer two seating times during each evening. Essentially, I was seated in the casual (if there was such a thing) area near their "bar" area. You have to understand, their bar area is fancier than any bar I've ever seen! I had a view of this piece of art. When I think of Europe, I think of open spaces like this one. Crawling with people doing all sorts of things. It makes me think of the dance of life, so at initial glance, I just see lots of people dancing.

All around me, I'm surrounded by the French, with their airs about food pretension and overly enthusiastic public displays of affection. Maybe I'm just jealous because I sit here alone wishing I were independently wealthy so my beloved could join me. Jaded a bit, but I sat and pretended that we were all at a big party and these were all new friends to make. Me, the Contessa Bianca, wife of Meeester Sias, our alter egos from our Napa adventure. Those of you who were there know what I'm talking about.

I ordered a glass of the "Daniel" chardonnay. Yes, a shock considering I don't like whites. But after the first taste, I was sold!! Could be the lack of sleep or the hormonal imbalance. Mostly, I think it reminded me of my love. He so loves a good white.

$108 3-Course Prix Fixe could choose your courses.

I ordered the $51 foie gras appetizer and the $77 duo of beef. With that alone, I feel like I'm getting my money's worth.

Now, my mouth is watering and I do hope that I am not disappointed. After all, it is French cuisine, so I'm certain I'll leave here hungry, unfortunately. However, I will have eaten three days worth of awesome gut-busting calories! Sidenote: I still have my coupon for my "free" cocktail at the hotel. #winning
The servers here all wear black Armani suits with fancy-fancy ties. Even the women wear form fitting black suits, minus the tie, with their hair tightly pulled back and large ornate dangly earrings.

Amuse Bouche: Celebration of Beets (canape)
Beet puree was delicious!!!  Mini crabcake (the size of a dime) wrapped in celery with apple shavings. Beet with cardamom and Beed with something else. What a positively horrible photo. :(
White truffle with artichoke soup and heavy cream. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!!!!
The bread came out. I chose a sour dough roll and the garlic roll. They served it with fresh/awesomely delicious butter. These were like regular french breads, flavorful and hard. I can't get past the butter. I need a moment. I have a tear in my eye. This butter is so good.

Before my next course, my flatware is changed out. The French don't care about dirty dishes! This is my first every experience with a flat spoon. Check it out...

 Appetizer: Foie Gras

Sweet potato fried wonton
Cranberry chutney with pistachios
Foie gras on a bed of that chutney

Foie gras perfection!!! So far I'm SOOOO NOT disappointed. My soul is happy and so is my heart, kinda. I still miss my love. I take another sip of my wine.

Next Course: Beef Duo

Short ribs are not my Primo's short rib. They are very fatty. The potato cake with bone marrow. The potato was overcooked, the bone marrow great! Waygu beef was very good, but not OMG WOW. The accompanying red sauce was runny. The cauliflower, grilled cauliflower, was uninspiring.
This main course is delicious and flavorful, but not mind blowing amazing as the others. Call me a die-hard Texas gal, but the beef duo lacked the creativity. I've had many similar things back home. Heck, I've had better fajita meat than that short rib. That's unfortunate. Like I said, good food and against other places, superb, but just not compared to places I've been, nor can it hold a candle to my cousin's cuisine. (Call him or email him if you want to set up your own (and affordable) private and personal dining experience. Yes, his short ribs are TODIEFOR!!!)

Before I go on to dessert, I have to pause to note the music selection playing overhead. I've really enjoyed the selection and felt that the music was paired with the food perfectly!! Chris Isaak's "Never Fall in Love" covered by a foreign wispy voice. "Ain't to Proud to Beg" hehe...chill music, if you will.

Dessert: Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse

More flatware, of course! I opted for the hazelnut chocolate mousse with rice crisps and horchata ice cream. It was good and rich, but the ice cream was outstanding!
And server surprised me with a bonus dessert!! The Bosc pear special with hazelnut pear foam. It was light, airy and absolute perfection! (kissing my fingertips like they do when food is awesome!)
Again, the ice cream is divine. Accompanying them are fresh baked madeleines!! Mmmm. I've never had fresh made ones and wow! No really, wow!
 Above all, the service was extraordinary! Not at all pretentious for the prices they charge. Here you pay for great food and you will equally greater service. I felt so welcomed here, I know why it was highly rated.

When in NYC and you have quite a bit of spare money for a fancy night out (yes, even in this soft economy), doll yourself up to the 9's and come on out to Da-nel (trying to pronounce it all French-like)

You will not be disappointed, nor will you regret it!


To finish the evening, my server brought me a set of 6 petit fours:

  • praline macaroon*
  • chocolate with lime zest
  • coconut pearls
  • raspberry crumble
  • lemon tart*
  • coffee chocolate with caramel

*these were my favorites
To finish, finish, totally finish the night, chocolates made in house. Blueberry and peanut butter. Both were bite sized culinary smiles.

Daniel on 65th and and Park in NYC...mark it on your list of must-see/do while in the City.

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