So… last night was The Night. The Night We Went to Tetsuya’s. Amy had made the reservation months ago and by the time it rolled around all four of us (me, Snookums, Amy, and Rob) were pretty keyed up with anticipation. The Snook and I had a late breakfast and then didn’t eat anything else all day; THAT’S how much we wanted to have empty bellies for all the culinary goodness that awaited us. At last the doors were parted by a pair of waiters and we were led inside like royalty. We were quickly seated in a small dining room (at that point, we were the only people in it) and we informed the waiter that we’d all be having the degustation with matched wines. We also decided to have the optional starter of oysters to begin. Interestingly, Grab Your Fork visited the restaurant in April and the menu was almost exactly the same, so you should go there to read AugustusGloop’s review and see pictures of all the different courses. (We thought of taking photos but didn’t want to look too touristy.) Read on for my take…Okay, so here are my remembered responses (in order of consumption):
- The oysters: Yummy, but I still have to fight hard not to think about what I’m eating or else I get a little gaggy.
- Black truffle butter: *still drooling* Amy and I liked this way too much.
- Snow egg and caviar sandwich: I liked the egg, but I think I can conclusively say that I’m not a big fan of the caviar. It’s still a little too fishy for my palate. (And all I could picture was poor Mirna shoveling two pounds of it down her throat…)
- Tartare of tuna on sushi rice with avocado: Very nice. The tuna was so meaty and fresh; there wasn’t even the slightest bit of fishiness. We all exposed ourselves as uncultured rubes though, when we didn’t realize that we were supposed to use the provided spoons to eat the avocado “soup.” Instead we just slopped it up with our forks. Oops.
- Cold corn soup with basil ice cream: Surprisingly YUM! I’ve eaten my fair share of creamed corn but this is the creamiest corn you’ve ever seen.
- Tuna marinated in soy and mirin: This was on a funny little spear and Rob nearly melted when he had his. With each of the fish dishes I had to fight the impulse to just knock it back without even tasting it, but I definitely noticed that this wasn’t fishy and it did have a pleasant wasabi tinge to it.
- Trevally with preserved lemon: Actually we didn’t have this one. Instead we had a small bit of scampi that somehow also incorporated some chicken. I remember thinking that the best part was the contrasting texture of the sliced green onion.
- Confit of trout: When they sat this in front of me, I turned to the Snook and said, “This is my nightmare. A waiter just put a big piece of fish in front of me and I have to eat it.” It’s Tetsuya’s signature dish though, so I squared my shoulders and dug in. Again, surprisingly good. Not fishy, and the texture was so soft it practically fell apart in your mouth. The seaweed on the outside was a nice touch in that it allowed me to focus on something other than the fact that actual FISH PARTS were in my mouth.
- Ravioli of lobster and crab with shellfish essence: Hmm, I know I ate this but I can’t remember anything other than it was good. We were onto our fourth or fifth glass of wine at this point.
- Twice cooked de-boned spatchcock with braised daikon and bread sauce: Finally, some warm-blooded animals! This was very nice. (We agree with AugustusGloop that the “meticulously carved” vegetable was a potato.)
- Grilled Wagyu beef with asian mushrooms and lime jus: This is the one I was really looking forward to. Unfortunately I’m not a big mushroom eater, but I soldiered on. It was very good. The Snook felt that the sauce was a bit overpowering though, and he would have preferred to taste a bit more of the beef itself. I guess I can see that.
- Orange and honey sorbet with black pepper: We didn’t have this one. Instead we had beetroot and blood orange sorbet. It was really weird eating red frozen mush that tasted of beets and oranges.
- Tetsuya’s take on strawberry shortcake: Ah, this one I LIKED. We asked the waiter what the bottom layer was, and he said it was pulverized biscuits (cookies) with sugar syrup. This was pretty much my only real foodgasm moment of the night, mostly because I wasn’t concentrating so hard on the weird things that I was eating and just allowed myself to enjoy it.
- Blue cheese ice cream with pear and sauterne jelly: I’m not a big fan of blue cheese but I really enjoyed this. I’d never had anything like it before. Very nice.
- Floating island with praline and vanilla bean anglaise: This was the softest, airiest meringue I’ve ever eaten in my life. You put it in your mouth and it just dissolved instantly. As I remarked to the group, “I should be annoyed at paying so much to eat air, but it’s really good!”
We stuck around for coffees afterwards and finally called for the bill more than three hours after we’d arrived. (During the course of our dinner the dining room filled up to capacity. Oh! And we even saw Tetsuya, who came out to wish someone a happy birthday.) The waiter set the bill in front of Rob and I grabbed it. “I just have to see,” I said. Even though I knew what to expect, I still nearly slid out of my chair. FOUR FIGURES for dinner is just the most ridiculously extravagant thing we’ve ever been a part of. Out came the credit cards and away we strode into the night.
So, Final Thoughts: Tetsuya’s definitely lived up to my expectations. Every dish was unusual and beautiful and challenged my tastebuds. The matched wines were all excellent and even the Snook – a minor wine connoisseur – was raving. The service was impeccable and it was every bit the “fancy restaurant” experience of this Midwestern girl’s dreams. But would I go back? I’m not so sure. I think the real lesson of the evening is that while I can appreciate this French style of “art for art’s sake” cuisine, it just isn’t my favorite kind of meal. It’s a nice treat, but I’d rather have one nice big main to concentrate on rather than half a dozen small ones. I was brought up to expect a fantastic, special dinner to end with being stuffed, and this fancy city food – while nice for an occasion – just doesn’t give you the same satisfied feeling at the end.