I called our first visit to Daniel back in 2011 “as close to perfect a meal as Kamran and I have had in NYC”. It was our first time at a restaurant with three Michelin stars and our first time eating one of these over-the-top, wine-paired, France-fueled tasting menus.
Since then, we’ve been to all but one of the three-Michelin-starred places (if anyone wants to put in a good word for Masa, I’m listening) and have basically had so much good food that we’ve started to question whether or not it’s been a mistake to ruin ourselves for mediocre food, so we decided it was time to go back to Daniel and see if our first time still holds up.
This is the six-course tasting for $195 (with an added cheese course for $50), paired with wine for $105:
amuse bouche trio
amuse: salmon, pumpernickel, mustard
Mostly salmony but with just a hint of that bitter rye flavor.
amuse: parsnip, onion jam
Creamy/crunchy/chewy textures, with chive oil at the bottom to add to and contrast with the flavor of the onion jam on top.
amuse: shrimp, cilantro, parsnip confit
The most perfect, most singular bite of shrimp, with citrus flavor and the crunch of the confit parsnip chip below.
Lauer Riesling “Ayler Kupp Faß 6 ‘Senior’”, Mosel, Germany 2011
squab terrine with pickled shiitake, confit grapes, muscat gelée, purple watercress, pistachio oil, young vegetables
Pretty gamey-tasting with a ham-like texture that made this like enjoying a charcuterie plate, sour gelee, and a very fresh, almost vegetal-flavored pistachio oil swipe.
duck terrine with red wine poached forelle pear, Asian pear, ginger-onion jam, mâche salad
Sweet and creamy, with crisp brioche toast points. This was the gentler counterpart to the funky squab thanks to its sweet onions and crisp pears, which I love the texture of in any dish but especially in very homogenous ones.
Salomon Undhof, Grüner Veltliner “Hochterrassen”, Kremstal 2011
Maine peekytoe crab salad with granny smith apple, pickled cranberries, celery shavings, walnut oil
This was one of my favourite dishes on both visits. Not only is crab just simply delicious, but Daniel knows just the fresh elements to pair with it to make it really sing, for lack of a better metaphor. Subtle and sweet with a vinegary celery sauce to make it bright. I don’t think anything was better for me all night than that first forkful of crab, celery leaves, and crisp apple.
olive oil poached cod salad, mussel-parsley vinaigrette, pickled hon shimeji mushroom, chorizo, artichoke, smoked sablefish
These tender hunks of fish were served cold and had much stronger flavors than their crab counterpart thanks to a meaty mussel sauce and brunoise of bold chorizo. A combination of fresh and wilted leaves gave it differing textures.
Florida frog legs fricassée, red wine stewed rye berry, kale, crispy shallot
My first frog! Except for the lollipop, which seemed more familiar due to its breading, I thought this had its own slightly aquatic flavor and didn’t just “taste like chicken”. The texture of the smaller bits reminded me a lot of sweetbreads with the way it was chewy and segmented. I loved the deep stew-like flavors of the this and the texture of the crispy kale.
fennel ravioli with Scottish langoustines, sautéed cuttlefish, Sicilian green olive, artichoke and saffron cream sauce
Have I mentioned that Daniel really knows what they’re doing with shrimp? The sweet shellfish flavor was so strong in this despite the relatively bold flavors of fennel and olive. It was so buttery and familiar, less exciting than the frog legs but more comforting. I think I’m finally getting used to the taste of olives, too, because when I tasted them in this dish, it was more “that’s what an olive tastes like” than “eww, what is that weird gross flavor?” Grownup!
Copain, Pinot Noir “Tous Ensemble”, Anderson Valley, California 2010
grilled swordfish, pine needle gremolata, gourgane panisse, Brussels sprouts, pioppini mushroom, sauce diable
Our first time at Daniel, we were impressed by the way the kitchen made tuna taste like steak and sole taste like chicken, and this was another instance of their uncanny ability to bring the sea to land. It was just so much like eating a piece of steak, and the fava bean/chickpea cake was such the perfect starch to accompany it with its crispy exterior and dense middle. I loved the buttery Brussels sprout, the fresh garbanzos, and just the slightest heat from the sauce.
oven baked black sea bass with syrah sauce, crispy yukon gold potato with tellicherry pepper, kale flan, shallot marmalade
Not really a kale flan but more like a crumbly kale cookie, with fresh bitter kale leaves on top. Deliiiiicious little cylinder of creamy potatoes with a crunchy shell. Sticky, dark sauce. The only misstep for me was the lack of crispy skin on the fish; the other elements on the plate were simply much more interesting than the sea bass.
trio of milk fed veal, roasted tenderloin with king oyster, cheek “blanquette” with parsnip purée, crispy sweetbreads with green peppercorn jus
What’s more luxurious than a plate full of different kinds of baby cow? The tenderloin was tender, but the blanquette must have started cooking before that little veal was even born to have made it so buttery soft. The sweetbreads were very familiar inside, but the coating was this thick, flour-heavy batter I haven’t tasted before. Even the herbs themselves were salty and delicious; a lot of care was clearly put into this dish.
duo of beef, braised black angus short ribs, wild mushroom fricassée with horseradish, seared wagyu tenderloin, rutabaga-mace purée, glazed chestnuts
I loved that this dish and the veal were just pure hunks of meat, unadulterated but for some sauce. The sticky sweet tender shortrib was such the perfect juxtaposition to the hard-seared wagyu. The chestnuts provided just enough texture contrast to the purées but were still softened and sweet.
The frommelier (apparently this is a totally real word used to describe the fromage version of the wine sommelier) brought her cheese cart around to our table and named each selection. We knew we wanted the super-stinky Époisses de Bourgogne but otherwise left ourselves in her hands and received a plate with six different kinds ranging from firm to soft and sweet to stinky and goaty to sheepy to cowy. Slices of bread, apricots, cherries, and the sweetest red wine gelee accompanied them, and when we couldn’t begin to finish the plate, everything was wrapped up for us to take home.
tropical-coconut vacherin, guava gel, mango-vanilla swirl, meringue
I secretly think meringue is too simple and bland when anything else is available, but this dessert really worked for me. The layers of whipped cream and cold meringue were so creamy and sweet, and then the fruits on the side packed a sour punch. I loved the guava gel specifically as someone who’s into tart flavors enough to go around sucking on lemons.
served with Château Pajzos 5 Puttonyos Aszú, Tokaji 2003
warm guanaja chocolate coulant, liquid caramel, fleur de sel, milk sorbet
This was the same chocolate cake I had back in 2011. The crunchy exterior gave way to a gooey molten center that oozed out onto the plate. Simple. But perfect.
served with Domaine de Rancy Rivesaltes Ambré, Roussillon 1996
chocolate cake with lime
Last time, we were celebrating my boyfriend finishing law school. This time, we weren’t celebrating anything special, but the kitchen still sent us this extra dessert. We saw a lot of extra desserts going around that night, many with little notes written in chocolate on the plates. It’s little touches like this that make Daniel feel special. The fact that I especially loved this because of the super-sour lime gel didn’t hurt, either.
The Michelin Guide calls Daniel “luxury in the traditional style”, and I really think that’s the best description. It’s purely elegant here, not in the modern and simple Per Se way but in the over-the-top and grand Bouley way. The dining room is completely windowless, creating this very protected and intimate feel, and the sunken center means that diners on the perimeter have a view of what everyone else is doing. I’m sure it doesn’t compare to dining in the skybox overlooking the kitchen, but I felt pretty regal at my spot along the wall on a plush banquette lit only by a candle and being served by friendly-yet-professional Frenchies. Pretty close to perfect indeed.
60 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065 (map)