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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Willy Wonka Meets Fine Dining

Had a most memorable lunch @ David Burke Town House. The moment I stepped out of the dreary, drizzly New York City weather, and into the bright, welcoming space (on E. 61st between Lex and Park) I knew I was about to experience something I never had before. The decor was colorful and eclectic, approaching technicolor, against the stark white walls. There was a chandelier of inverted, frosted wine glasses; multicolored, blown-glass balloons; and artwork that literally glowed...turns out theses touches are the ideal visual appetizer to what I was about to taste... a veritable Willy Wonka Tasting Room come to life...

Chef Burke himself is a larger-than-life man with a welcoming personality, but his largess belies the deft, skillful touches he displays on his plates. The food is so glorious to look at and study, it's as gorgeous as the interior design.

I couldn't help myself (shock of all shocks, I know) and ordered one of the available prix fixe options for lunch . My first choice was the Lobster Bisque. Three delicate lobster claws wrapped in a dumpling, with a tomato-based bisque poured on top at the table. There were kernels of fresh corn added to the mix. Shortly after, a surprise (a recurring theme of a Town House meal, I come to find). Chef was kind enough to send out a "gift" of his Lamb Steak Salad; three beautifully prepared slices of succulent lamb, mounted and balanced atop a disc of quinoa that looked like it had been injected with an iridescent, golden gelatin. Subtley spicy, texture somewhere in between fish roe and cous cous, and a fantastic combination paired together. My Black Angus Burger arrived next, perfectly cooked medium-rare on a spongy, buttery Brioche bun. The accompanying Garlic & Lemon French Fries were also a pleasingly visual shock. I'd never seen fries that yellow...almost neon! Turns out, the reason they abstain this color is because of the curry oil used in the frying process. They were crispy outside, tender inside. Not the slightest hint of oil to the touch. And finally, a Warm & Crisp Apple Tart with homemade Dulche de Leche Ice Cream, and a dried apple chip on top that resembled a flower blossom. The waiter finished off the presentation with a healthy drizzle of Cider Caramel Sauce. The tart was exactly as advertised; the tart itself was flaky and dense. The ice cream was sinful, and held up to the pastry.
From the outset, it's easy to discern that Burke is a master at the playful elements that add artistry to the food he prepares. I can just picture him with a gleam in his glasses as he conceives, and then constructs, his consistently wondrous dishes. Truth is, it would all be folly if the taste didn't live up, but it does, in spades. And while it's almost a shame to see the food disappear from your plate, bite by bite, it's sweet solace when it hits your palette. Burke pushes the boundaries of what you can create in a kitchen. And kudos to Exec Chef Sylvain Dilpique and Pastry Chef Jennifer Domanski for carrying out Chef Burke's visions of grandeur and splendor on the plate.

All he's missing is the purple velour top hat & tails...

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