Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Restaurant, New York, USA
It’s an experience, no question. Delicious, really on the highest level! The wine accompaniment remarkable. The dining area – if you find it: stylish and like a very elegant showroom that still offers a cozy, almost snug ambience. Quite different than the way some have described it.
For a few days now, I’ve been asking myself how I should describe my experience at the 3-Michelin-starred restaurant Chef’s Table in New York. Hard to beat, I would like to write, because it is. And yet, a nagging thought has crept in, which reduces the experience a little. And the longer this thought settles in, the more space it takes up. Is it really only possible to cook on such a divine level if you combine ingredients from three different continents (!) for a single course? The inspiring concept of César Ramírez is surely to use only the BEST ingredients in the world: beef and seafood from Japan, foie gras from France etc…. It is amazing how César Ramírez lays down various “taste trails” that end on the tongue and on the palate in a path that unites all the elements and components of the various taste ideas, leading to an explosion that proves all the power of enchanting cooking, even composing. It’s like one of the greatest and, above all, the most intelligent symphonies you might recall.
Let’s start briefly, but, maybe, at the beginning of the story: I have tried twice – admittedly at relatively short notice – to get a seat in Chef’s Table. One would have to reserve months before, etc. This time, no less short-term, maybe two weeks before, I tried the concierge service of my black American Express card. Not to advertise here, but, in this case, I just have to say that without the efforts of a Tom Bell (New York Destination Manager), the reservation might not have worked out, so thank you, American Express! You take a certain amount of risk, because you pay for the meal when you make your reservation. If you don’t cancel more than 10 days in advance, the restaurant keeps the money. Crass, considering that there is certainly a remarkable waiting list for a table there…plenty of people who would happily take your place immediately. So, the demand that one must be able to afford it comfortably. But doesn’t this fit with my initial suspicions? Isn’t this a slight bitter taste (to stay with culinary phrases): in German there is an apt expression: Die Preise sind gesalzen (The prices are salty, aka steep). US $400 including wines and tip for one person there is somehow considered nothing. So what could justify such a price? An expectation for the extraordinary? Somehow. And it is eventually fulfilled. Actually, not at the first moment, perhaps, because the entrance to the restaurant is really remarkable: the house number (431 West 37th St, New York) leads to an office building, the porter of the entrance offers no assistance, even though he is likely asked ten times every evening about the entrance of the restaurant: “You have to go through the grocery store, then you come to the entrance.” I remained skeptical, I have now understood correctly. Yes, it is true, the entrance is inside Brooklyn Fare market, as the video shows here:
The friendly receptionist deposits your stuff in the cloakroom and then brings you into a really impressive room. At first I was disappointed not to be seated at the bar, but also at the table it was very enjoyable and ultimately much better for the overview. You do not know in advance what you get. Every day something else is done here, depending on the availability of the ingredients. The food creations are certainly not just invented within a few hours; there is an insane amount of work behind each one. As mentioned above, I have perhaps never experienced such a clever taste concept that is so surprising, unexpected, and then totally convincing and beyond all doubt. The food is very Japanese and many of the ingredients, such as all of the fish, are from Japan. How many types of mackerel are there? Mackerel and tuna, moreover, belong to one fish family. No wonder that fits in with Japan.
Frankly, it overwhelms me and my writing skills to describe the individual courses. They were all just amazing and so special that I could now write off the card. Even after a few weeks, I might remember all of the distinct courses. But I think the food was served too fast – because the table was needed for a second seating, something I, honestly speaking, hate. (Had the same experience last summer in Naples: Veritas, Restaurant, Naples). Every dish was very well prepared, an artwork in a way: modest, rather a show of details, very clear – again showing the Japanese influence.
The last dish was the most decadent: wagyu beef from Japan, truffles from Australia, and foie gras from France. Maybe because César Ramírez departs from his one-element principle a little bit here – this combination is simply too much and even a bit heavy.
I opted for a wine accompaniment and it was more than impressive. There was absolutely no saving here and the sommelier really has it. Once for his humor, which coincides with mine very strongly, I have not drunk such good wines, from Burgundy in particular, in a very long time. Big compliment. Although THE discovery for me was a from Cote Rotie: “Cordeloux” from Marie and Pierre Benetiere.
What should one write in the end? If you are a gourmet and not a stingy one, try to get there once. It is definitely worth a trip, to speak in the style of the Michelin Guide. Are there any other restaurants in the world that I would recommend to you more highly than Chef’s Table? Yes, for sure. Do you want to experience taste at the highest level, as you may have never done before, so, to really have a unique experience: it is the place. If you are ecologically aware, then you must boycott the restaurant – with reasons that are permissible for me as well. It is not necessary for absolute top cuisine to fly all kinds of food every day from one end of the world to another. If so, I prefer to fly to the end of the world and eat the mackerel living there at the local harbor restaurant.
… New York, the city of superlatives! That is also true for the restaurant there. Here is the link to Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare: https://www.brooklynfare.com/pages/chefs-table