If I were to read Chef Colt Taylor’s techniques and cooking interests, like some culinary matchmaker’s profile it would have been a first blind date worthy of a second go. Chef Taylor is head chef of One if by Land, Two if by Sea restaurant in the laid back Chelsea district of Manhattan. As explained on the website, Taylor’s mother, Melissa Barbieri, is a fantastic fresco painter from Connecticut (I do love the arts) and is well traveled (hello? I love travel!). He learned his technique from chefs around the Western globe, from Austria to Miami and in the end favoured French cuisine above all.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a French restaurant and doesn’t pretend to be but the technique is there. The tone of the atmosphere is set by the wall murals/frescoes (perhaps done by Barbieri, his mother?) and the dark wood which both call to mind a sort of Anglo Saxon/ Beowulf tavern with a lot of cozy charm. The dinning room and bar are dark, lit by chandeliers that appear to be floating at times. There are gorgeous stained glass windows that emit shades of blue amongst golden candle light upon the tables. We were seated up the stairs above the chandeliers with a view of the dinning room below. The only natural light available to the restaurant was where we sat and revealed a rooftop garden.
|View of dinning room from upstairs|
|Coupe d’Amour: blood orange-cello, hibiscus, passion fruit, sparkling wine,
and candied rose petals.
As for the menu guests are offered a chef’s tasting menu for $125 (add wine paring for $60) or they can order a la carte. With the various delicious dishes my family decided to order a la carte. But first…the drinks. My sister, feeling slightly more adventurous that night, ordered the delicious Coupe d’Amour and I went for the safer French Assistance. Looking at the menu again for this blog post I wonder why I didn’t go for the conveniently named Traveling Plum?
|French Assistance: St. Germain elderflower, green chartreuse,
champagne, tarragon and pink peppercorn.
Appetizers were on the smaller side but offered some complex flavours. The Hamachi Sashimi – raw tuna with black garlic, pine nuts and yuzu – was served slightly warm (I like my raw fish cold) but despite this it was a good dish. The better dishes were the blanquette of veal cheeks and crayfish which included morel mushrooms, asparagus and chickpeas in a delicate frothy broth, the crispy pork belly with spring radish kimchi, peanuts and bliss maple glaze, and finally the foie gras terrine with rhubarb, scapes and brioche was, as usual, delicious.
|Foie Gras Terrine|
|Crispy Pork Belly|
|Veal Cheeks and Crayfish|
Dinner once again did not disappoint. The Rouen duo of duck was not the most unique dish but I was happy to have seen the duck confit served in a different style than simply on the bone like I am used to. The duck was delicious and tender with a punch of cherries (a very typical companion), and marcona almonds to switch up the texture, was satisfying.
|Duo of duck|
My sisters choice of black bass was spectacular with lobster bisque as a sauce and a slight crust on the bass to mop it up with, served alongside spring pea tarragon tortelli and pistachio, I can honestly say it was one of the best fish dishes I have ever tasted.
However, the best of all that night is one of the restaurants top sellers, the beef wellington. Ashamedly before this point in time I had yet to try the beef wellington. After watching Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and how many times the contestants under or over cook the dish, I was dying to try it when they finally got it right. Now was the time and I was not at all underwhelmed! With the tender and flavourful steak wrapped in flaky crust that absorbs the bordelaise jus it was something to come back for (if New York City wasn’t enough already).
Of course we couldn’t pass up dessert! Fried cheesecake, sorbet trio, toasted almond panna cotta all appeared on our table by the hands of the excellent staff who waited on us without the stuffy snobbery I was expecting from the New York food scene (although we did experience our fair share at another location).
Luckily the portions were perfectly small, especially the fried cheesecake that more resembled the donuts you would see at a carnival with a burst of sweet cream cheese. I was never one for panna cotta but I gave it another chance but the texture has never titillated me.
The desserts didn’t match the flavourful savoury dishes shaped by Chef Taylor’s culinary travels or maybe the dessert is where the date went cold but overall One if by Land Two if by Sea would easily be one of my favourite restaurant experiences so far which is why I have listed it under my top 10 (see labels).
|Complementary fruit tart and macarons.|