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Adour
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Adour

ADDRESS:2 E. 55th St., at Fifth Ave. (212) 710-2277

DINNER: Mon.-Sat., 5.30 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 5.30 p.m.-10 p.m.
CUISINE: Contemporary French
VIBE: Elegant affair
OCCASION: Fine dining, special occasion
DON’T-MISS DISH: Ricotta gnocchi; diver scallops with black truffles; beef tenderloin.
PRICE: Appetizers, $17-29; entrees, $32-49; desserts, $14.
RESERVATIONS: Required.

In recent years, New York has been the thorn in Alain Ducasse‘s
side. An exalted French chef, Ducasse has amassed an empire of
Michelin-starred institutions, including Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo and
his eponymous restaurant at Plaza Athénée in Paris. While Ducasse has conquered much of the globe, his first two Manhattan ventures resulted in defeat and subsequently closed (Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Mix).

Yet he seems more determined than ever to win our affections at Adour, his newest restaurant set in the landmark St. Regis Hotel.
What was formerly Lespinasse has been transformed into an elegant
showcase for haute French cuisine and an exquisite wine selection. The David Rockwell-designed space is flourished with wine armoires, plush burgundy banquettes, and a glass veil that frames the main dining room.

There is an interesting marriage of an old and new world order of
dining with the installment of an interactive wine bar and private wine
vault where diners can electronically scroll through the 600-bottle
wine list. Sensational choices are an Alsatian Pinot Gris and a
full-bodied Roussillon, both refreshingly affordable and available by
the glass for $13.

But don’t be misled. Dining at Adour is an extravagantly pampered
affair. Purses get their own pedestals and the service is so flawless
it feels like there’s a server for every guest. The food gets the same
regal treatment as the patrons. Luscious sautéed foie gras is perfectly
modulated by a peppery duck jus and al dente lentils. Though Ducasse is
famous for his French cooking, his ricotta gnocchi are on a par with
some of the finest Italian restaurants in the city. These exuberantly
fresh nibbles melt into a sharp arrangement of dried prosciutto,
sautéed lettuce and a bright splash of vinegar.

But no dish surpassed a breathtaking entree of creamy diver
scallops, embellished with tender slivers of black truffles, shellfish
jus and spinach leaves. It was an exemplary composition that achieved
more succulent depth than a relentlessly tough pork tenderloin served
with a cranberry-stuffed apple, which tasted like a holiday ham gone
terribly awry. For every dish that dazzled, there was another that
utterly disappointed. On one visit, an unusually juicy beef tenderloin
was presented alongside a mushy sea bass draped with manila and razor
clams, devoid of their characteristic brininess.

Pale shades of flavor too often emerged from the pedigreed kitchen, helmed by chef Tony Esnault.
Foie gras tapioca ravioli deserved a richer broth than its timid
sunchoke consommé. And lobster was an altogether weak point on the
menu. Both an overworked lobster thermidor and an unrewarding appetizer
of chilled Maine lobster seemed to have lost their nerve.

Desserts ran a similar turbulent course of highs and lows. The “thin
chocolate leaf layers” – albeit beautiful – were stacked with dull
praline mousse. Instead, opt for a fabulous crème brulée smothered in a
raspberry sauce, or a “Contemporary Exotic Vacherin” with a zesty
layering of lime gelée, mango marmalade and foamy passionfruit
emulsion.

Though some may dispute we’re no longer up for fussy French affairs
in this decidedly casual dining era, New Yorkers will never tire of
talent wherever they can find it. But with a world-renowned chef like
Ducasse, more dishes should lodge themselves in our memories than they
do at Adour.




These exuberantly
fresh nibbles melt into a sharp arrangement of dried prosciutto,
sautéed lettuce and a bright splash of vinegar.

But no dish surpassed a breathtaking entree of creamy diver
scallops, embellished with tender slivers of black truffles, shellfish
jus and spinach leaves. It was an exemplary composition that achieved
more succulent depth than a relentlessly tough pork tenderloin served
with a cranberry-stuffed apple, which tasted like a holiday ham gone
terribly awry. For every dish that dazzled, there was another that
utterly disappointed. On one visit, an unusually juicy beef tenderloin
was presented alongside a mushy sea bass draped with manila and razor
clams, devoid of their characteristic brininess.

Pale shades of flavor too often emerged from the pedigreed kitchen, helmed by chef Tony Esnault.
Foie gras tapioca ravioli deserved a richer broth than its timid
sunchoke consommé. And lobster was an altogether weak point on the
menu. Both an overworked lobster thermidor and an unrewarding appetizer
of chilled Maine lobster seemed to have lost their nerve.

Desserts ran a similar turbulent course of highs and lows. The “thin
chocolate leaf layers” – albeit beautiful – were stacked with dull
praline mousse. Instead, opt for a fabulous crème brulée smothered in a
raspberry sauce, or a “Contemporary Exotic Vacherin” with a zesty
layering of lime gelée, mango marmalade and foamy passionfruit
emulsion.

Though some may dispute we’re no longer up for fussy French affairs
in this decidedly casual dining era, New Yorkers will never tire of
talent wherever they can find it. But with a world-renowned chef like
Ducasse, more dishes should lodge themselves in our memories than they
do at Adour.

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