With their creative, delicious dishes and impressive service that always delivers more than expected, it’s no wonder Tocqueville has long been one of my favourite NYC restaurants. They’re so good to their repeat customers that I secretly felt a little guilty buying the incredibly cheap four-course tasting deal that came up on Gilt City recently, but it was a great excuse to invite along some friends who hadn’t yet tried the restaurant. I walked away with my Tocqueville love reaffirmed, and they walked away with plans to return as soon as possible.
warm cheese gougeres
Brought to the bar area while we enjoyed some wine and whiskey, these had just enough jalapeno to add a kick without overpowering the cheese flavor inside.
The Thinking Man’s Man: Isle of Jura ‘Superstition’ Single Malt, Amaro Ciao Ciaro, Agustura Bitters, Lucid absinthe wash, chamomile grappa sugar cube
Once we were seated in the dining room, the kitchen sent out a sampling of snacks from the bar, starting with a fresh basket of gougeres and continuing with:
red beet canelloni with Montrachet goat cheese
Simple and beautiful, this incredibly crisp sweet beet wrapper paired so nicely with the dense, tangy cheese inside.
croquettes of celery root and potato, black truffle mayonnaise
So decadent, with the entire slice of truffle over the already truffle-infused mayo. The bright bite of the celery balanced the rich, earthy truffle and potato.
Cato Farm Bloomsday aged cheddar salad, roasted bosc pear, fennel, frisee, hazelnut dressing
I generally don’t approve of salad, but biting into this one was like eating a really complex savory dessert. The hazelnuts were caramelized and broke apart like toffee, and the pear was divinely sugary and tender. The sweetness of the dish never overpowered the tang of the cheese nor the bitterness of the greens, though. Now I understand why my boyfriend orders this almost every time we visit.
truffled creamy Parmesan grits and sunny side up country egg: Squire Hill Farm Araucana egg, house cured veal bacon
Grits and eggs seem like such the low-brow rural breakfast, but they don’t make grits like this on the farm. So thick and frothy to begin with, they became even richer when I plunged my fork into the egg and swirled its dense center deep into a dish already heavy with truffles. The bacon, remarkably, was the lightest element on the plate; its prosciutto-like texture allowed it to unify with the grits rather than battle against them like fried bacon would.
seared diver scallops and foie gras, wild mushrooms, braised artichoke, cider vinegar gastrique
It seems too indulgent to have two pleasures like this on the same plate. The fresh, mild scallop and assertive, funky liver should have been at odds with each other but were perfect dishmates in this sour sauce that lent depth to the seafood and brightness to the offal.
lightly smoked duck breast, baby bok choy, Asian pears, citrus-star anise consommé
If the kitchen was trying to lure us back soon to try the rest of the current dinner menu when they so graciously sent this dish out to us, they knew what they were doing. Even the duck-skeptic among us was convinced by this absolutely gorgeous slice of breast in its orangey-licoricey broth. The bok choy took on a new personality when its bitterness was subdued by the sweetness of the sauce, its usually-limp leaves suddenly seeming like a welcome fruit of the summer harvest.
chocolate souffle, cherry ice cream
I usually look to Tocqueville for the light, citrus-based desserts, but I’ll never argue with an airy chocolate cake. This one was a bit dry and could have benefited from a sauce poured over top with the first bite, but the side of cherry ice cream with its extra-sweet but not extra-medicinal flavor and beautiful fruit splayed on top provided the moisture we needed.
We’d already seen twice as many courses than we’d expected, but of course Tocqueville delivered their plate of petit fours to make the meal a complete feast. And you can bet I ate one of the macarons.
1 East 15th Street
New York, NY 10003 (map)