Monday, March 29, 2004

Cafe Mozart - A Review

So on Saturday night, Bronwen and I went with Florencia and her very German husband Andreas to an Argentinian restaurant, but that's not what this review is about. We then went see Sweeney Todd at the New York City Opera, but that's not what this review is about. We finished off the evening at my favorite dessert establishment, Cafe Mozart, where, after deliberating longer than the Martha Stewart jury, I decided on the Mud Cake. THAT will be the subject of this review.

Though I've been to Cafe Mozart dozens of times, I don't think I'd ever gotten the Chocolate Mud Cake. Perhaps due to its inclusion on rib joint and Pizzeria Uno's menus, I didn't think it was worthy of an atmosphere where a piano player plays hit tunes from the 17 and 1800's. I had always gone for The Peanut Butter Fudge Cake or The Death by Chocolate or The Black Forest Cake or The Triple Decker (see menu below)....oh, what I have been missing.

Denser than the Vietnamese jungle, this slice of heaven is truely something to behold. Combining Vienesse fudge, chocolate mousse, and bittersweet chocolate pieces may seem like chocolate and chocolate related overkill to some, but let my assure you my friends, it was just the right anount of kill. The texture was like eating Skippy Extra Crunch Peanut Butter...except all chocolate...and I ate this with a spoon rather than my finger (umm, sorry Bronwen).

As soon as the first morsel touched my lips, I closed my eyes and was immediately transported back to grand ol' Austria circa 1784. I was sitting in an Austrian restaurant with three others eating a slice of chocolate mud cake and listening to a piano player. Then I opened my eyes sine I was already doing that...and my eyes crust over when I leave them closed for too long. Then I took my second bite. Then I ate some of Bronwen's raspberry sorbet. Then I put some of Bronwen's raspberry sorbet on my chocolate mud cake. Then I swished her raspberry sorbet into my chocolate mud cake. Then I just ate some fo my chocolate mud cake. Then I told Andreas to look at the pretty picture on the wall and ate his cake. Then I...

Anyway, it was yummy.

Rock On,


Le Bernardin - A Review

I decided it was high time that I investigated this haute cuisine temple to seafood french-style and so, on this past Friday eve, with my girlfriend's birthday approaching, I thought what better time to indulge my palate with Mr. Ripert's award winning offerings.

For purposes of my precious time and your meager attention spans, I shall do away with reviewing the incidiary aspects our of divine culinary experience, but will say that we were served by no less than eight people. To say we were treated like King Henry VIII - well, before he died of syphilis and ailments from gluttony - would be an understatement. Now...onto the "meat" of my review...or the fish as it were....

We both decided on the tasting menu...a must since they will not allow only one at a table to order it and since I was actually drooling out of my eyesockets (though it could have been an infection) when I saw the "warm chocolate tarte with melting whipped cream and dark chocolate sauce", it was pretty much a done deal (especially since I ordered for us when she was in the restroom...ignoring her previous order request...boy was she surprised!)

Before we technically began, they tickled our buds with an amuse bouche of tuna tartare - for those cretins out there, amuse bouche literally means "mouth amusement". It's a littel bite beore the actaul meal begins. I must admit I felt a bit silly when I joked with the waiter that it sounded like a sex toy...he wasn't amused at all. Anyhoo, the tartare was delicate yet moist, flavorful yet not overpowering, orange, yet not red.

From there we went onto a Bay Scallop/Sea Urchin Cerviche Style combo - though I assume they would object to my use of the abbreviation "combo" as it sounds too much like something one would order at Red Lobster. At any rate, the lime marination provided the perfect zestiness to truely bring this dish alive. I wouldn't have been shocked if the sea urchin got up on its hind legs and danced the Watusi...okay, I guess I would've been somewhat shocked.

Next, we enjoyed the flavorful yet utterly refined Hamachi Tandoori, which consisted of seared rare yellowtail marinated in tandoori spices - it was accompanied by a pickled cucumber and mango salad. As much as I liked this dish, it doesn't compare to how much I like to say "Hamachi!"

It was followed by the Bouillabaisse, which consisted of an Aioli crab cake melting in a rich saffron Lobster broth with poached shrimp and croutons. Judging by the mean looks and eventual verbal scolding, slurping and then lifting one's bowl of bouillabaisse to one's mouth is frowned upon...quite strenuously I might add. To say it was delicious wouldn't do this creation, it was very delicious.

One aside here, no one, and i mean NOONE in the restaurant took their jackets off. Though I started sweating around here, I started daydreaming that the minute I took off my jacket, they would use the loudspeaker to ask the "ill-mannered vulgarian" to please reapply his jacket. Silence would reign as everyone looked at me. I would slowly move to put it back on whereupon things would go back to normal. Anyway...

Our Tasting Train's next stop was at the Wild Striped Bass Station, which consisted of steamed wild bass and okra, in a pineapple-lime nage (whatever that is); coriander jasmine rice and eggplant chutney. This was one train you wouldn't want to miss. The fish was flakier than my mom, the nage was the nagiest this reviewer has ever consumed and the rice and chutney side had no right relegated to sideshow status, no, this was a star dish that deserves to headline...with its own grand introduction, under bright lights, maybe accompanied by a monkey.

The fifth course consisted of Grouper, which I agee, sounds more like a disease than a fish. It's accompaniments are on the website listed below - I really don't feel like typing it all in but it came with bits of bacon in the sauce...I mean, c'mon, I'd eat a turd if it were bacon infused.

Finally, dessert time. not only did I inhale the aforementioned tarte, but I also alerted one fo our 23 servers that it was in fact my girlfriend's birthday, and I thought that deserved a free piece of cake or pie - they brought out, with a candle, this unbelievably scrumptious piece of key lime pie-cake. I'm pretty sure my g-friend got to taste her birthday cake...I think. They also brought out eight little post meal dessert thingies - mostly chocolate related...I swallowed them all.

Final Analysis - Though the cost was right around the GNP per capita of Cambodia, I highly recommend Le Bernardin. If I lived in Cambodia, I wouldn't eat for a year just to have one meal there. Of course it would really have to be like five years, since they'd have to fly over since they don't deliver. Though maybe they could cut that down to like three years if they just gave up their precious cable tv and cellphones and broadband internet connections for a year. Where was I? Oh yeah, Le Bernardin rocked.

Rock On,