We were at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in the fall of 2015, back when it was in Brooklyn. It has since moved into the city and relaxed a few of the rules. Chef César Ramirez now allows note taking and photos but still does not permit jeans and requires coats for men in the dining room. I was not a fan of such policies back then and still am not but was willing to try the new location that was more under my terms. The new place in still in the back of a grocery store but the room is beautiful, softer than the old one with a lot less stainless steel and more woods. It is also much larger with 20 seats at the counter and 20 at tables around the perimeter. This allows larger parties to attend and the comfortable counter seats have backs and are now spaced between parties. Shining copper pots hang above the large open kitchen that has lots of people making preparations. The rock music in the background was a bit jarring for the otherwise elegant setting. It still is a surprise tasting menu only but they do give you a copy of what you had at the end of the meal. Pairings are available. Pacing was good but portions tend to the large size and are fairly rich.
They nicely start you with a damp cloth and a glass of champagne.
Blue fin tuna tartar from Spain was on a really crisp kelp leaf. It is supposed to be one bite, but that was large. However the crisp bottom was quite delicate. There was a tad of horseradish in the mix. Good contrasts of textures with nice strong flavors.
Hokkaido sea urchin from Japan was topped with a black truffle and placed on a buttery piece of brioche. The lightly toasted brioche was perfect to pair with the fluffy uni and some truffle paste in between was a companion to the duo. Rich and delicious.
Grilled wild trout was in a sauce of dill, cream, roe and a dashi vinaigrette. The skin on the top was hard to cut but tasty with crispness and a bit of gritty salt. The silky, smooth fish was nice and the dish had a good balance of flavors.
Ramp custard with foie gras had a mild, subtle flavor and was sparked by the bright green ramp custard on the bottom. The only problem with this one was the really small spoon. It was tasty.
Chiba Akamutsu was Japanese sea perch with French white asparagus. The fish was amazing and enhanced with a touch of lemon. The fish was lightly cooked and unbeliveably moist and tender. The white asparagus were almost sweet. This was a great dish.
Wild sea bass was served with Kaluga Queen caviar and a vin jaune wine sauce. This was a plate of creamy goodness. The soft, moist fish was covered with the nutty, sweet and rich sauce then topped with excellent caviar. A great aftertaste too, this one was really, really good – a ‘lick-the-plate’ type of dish.
Claw and tail meat of langoustine from Norway was served with cauliflower purée on a bouillabaisse sauce. The claw meat of the langoustine was covered with a thin sheet of lardo and the flesh here had a very different texture from the tail meat. Both parts were excellent especially when coated with the tasty sauce but I found the claw meat slightly better.
Cod cheek with koshihikari rice had a wonderful texture but a fishy essence. The cheek was plated with bits of abalone and uni that were all well done, but this one just didn’t speak to me.
Quail from France was paired with sugar snap peas and stuffed morel mushrooms. The bird was nicely cooked and the peas were taken out of their shells to make very small, tasty peas. As this one involved your hands they had a wet towel for you to wipe up afterwards. It was a good course, but not mind-blowing.
A5 Wagyu beef was next with maitake mushrooms, green asparagus and grilled Little Gem lettuce. The meat had the proper taste of beef butter and was further enhanced with an onion sauce. The grilled lettuce was the surprise hit on this plate – it was truly tasty and fun. The rest of the plate was deliciously rich.
Rhubarb from Holland was mixed with coconut shaved ice (granité). The ice had a great coconut flavor and the rhubarb was mildly sweet, not tart. It was a good combination for a palate cleanser/transition course.
Wild strawberries from Malaga, Spain were served with fromage blanc. The wonderful small strawberries were packed with flavor and went great with the cream cheese.
Last was a Frozen Buckwheat Soufflé topped with toasted buckwheat. Some tiny crispy balls were around the bottom cream and added a nice textural pop to the nice flavor.
A tonka bean cream puff was filled with the flavor of almond and dusted with powdered sugar on top It was a good pastry and fine ending for a rich meal.
Chef Ramirez was unwilling to have a photo made with Frankie and not me. He really doesn’t like having his picture taken but I captured him working in the kitchen several times. Everybody’s got quirks.