My boyfriend and I ended up at Tocqueville for the first time almost by accident, but serendipitously, it turned out to be one of our most memorable dining experiences, and we were excited to return for their three-course, $39 lunch prix-fixe with wine pairings. I clearly wasn’t as excited about actually blogging the experience, since I’m just now getting around to it after five months, but that doesn’t reflect at all how I felt about the meal.
I think Tocqueville is one of (if not the) most overlooked and underappreciated restaurants in NYC, yet I have a hard time recommending it because of its atmosphere. It’s not for everyone. It’s not for first dates, guys with permanently-implanted Bluetooth headsets, party girls from the Meatpacking District, nor basically anyone who talks louder than the ticking of a watch. Some diners have called it stuffy, but I think of it as serene. It’s a very beautiful space with ultra-high ceilings, towering draperies, muted colors, and plush seating, but it’s very, very quiet. It’s wonderful for romantic dates, though, and the food is perfection.
creamless sunchoke soup? maybe?
skate wing brandade
confit of lamb ravioli, flageolet beans, toasted crumbs
This dish is the only reason I’m posting this sad excuse for a review at all. Five months later, I probably talk about this dish once a week, and I definitely think of it almost daily. It’s almost ugly as far as fine dining presentation goes, right? You can’t even see the ravioli, and there’s just this big pile of cheese covering everything.
But underneath all that was one big pasta pocket with the most tender, non-gamey meat. The rich sauce was dotted with these crunchy breadcrumbs, and the texture combination is what I can’t get out of my head. It was so easily one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten that I’m actually saddened by the fact that it’s off the menu now, never to be tasted again.
chocolate and peanut butter ganache, concord grape sorbet
photo via Tocqueville
I’ll never understand why Tocqueville doesn’t get the praise it deserves. The outstanding food, the opulent decor, and the personal service from staff that actually seems to care that you’re there make it one of the best restaurants in NYC. Their $24 lunch prix fixe has to be the biggest steal this side of the $15 Soba Totto lunch combo that feeds four, and the half-pours of their wine pairings mean you can enjoy a little afternoon refreshment without stumbling home and forgetting how you got there, a la lunch at Momofuku Ko. Tocqueville will continue to be my go-to special date spot, much-deserved Michelin star or no.
1 East 15th Street
New York, NY 10003 (map)