Gabriel Kreuther – Review
If you’re not a fan of fuss, you won’t have the patience for Gabriel Kreuther. But if you can still appreciate the glories of fine dining — the merits of many courses, tableside theatrics and luxe ingredients — Kreuther’s namesake eatery in the heart of midtown is an absolute must this fall. In fact, it’s the most exciting restaurant I’ve been to all year.
What’s so thrilling about it exactly? It’s true that anyone can shave truffles over a plate of pasta or cap lobster off with caviar, but Kreuther manages to razzle dazzle diners with unexpected and wholly original combinations that make you wonder why more people aren’t mingling Foie Gras with sweet nibbles of duck prosciutto & squash, or better yet, marrying Foie Gras with Pressed Hamachi and Black Truffles. (Both are dynamite dishes.) I’ve never had the pleasure of Langoustine Tartar curiously consorting with cauliflower or macadamia nuts, but this blessed union of raw langoustine, dabbed with briny bursts of flying fish roe, finger lime, and a nutty puree of cauliflower and macadamia nuts tastes divine.
As cliche as it sounds, Kreuther’s preparations lets you see foods you’ve eaten your whole life in a new light. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never encountered Cider-Poached Lobster, paired with sweet apples, or Long Island Duck anointed with a Meyer Lemon Gastrique, bringing out a spunky side of this game bird I’ve yet to encounter elsewhere. But what really makes the cooking here stand out is that Kreuther’s menu pivots on a distinctly Alsatian axis (just at it did at The Modern), so expect to find dishes that wander between France, Switzerland and Germany, like a hearty Sturgeon and Sauerkraut Tart, a Classic Tart Flambee topped with ham & creme fraiche, and another, more unusual rendition of this Alsatian pizza, pimped out with sea urchin and caviar.
If it’s a tart flambee you’re after, you’ll need to grab a seat in the no-reservations lounge, outfitted with a more casual menu, pillow-scattered, cream-colored leather banquettes, and sky high ceilings. Luckily, those soaring ceilings extend into the main dining room where you can settle in for Kreuther’s four-course tasting menu and admire this stunning restaurant, trimmed with salvaged barn wood, floral wallpaper, glass storks dangling from the ceiling, and generously sized tables spaced generously far apart. It’s only in the dining room that you can reap the benefits of Gabriel Kreuther’s killer bread service. While some restaurants are cutting back and eliminating bread service altogether (or charging for it), Gabriel Kreuther supplies three, exceptional bread courses, including a light as air kugelhopf, miniature baguettes and a curiously delicious gluten-free bread, each paired with spreads, like fromage blanc.
Its gestures like this flurry of freshly baked breads and tableside theatrics that remind you why fine dining was so compelling in the first place. Order the Lamb and what arrives at the table is a smoldering hay stack, shrouding a top notch Colorado rack of lamb, filling the dining room with a daringly pungent and earthy smoke. Your server will whisk it back to the kitchen to plate it, returning to you with a glorious specimen of atypically tender breast meat — tinged with the intense flavors of smoke & hay — sided by a tea cup of hay jus in case you need an extra kick. (You won’t.) One of my favorite dishes at Gabriel Kreuther is a fennel-fragrant Veloute with Cockles, crowned with raw blue shrimp, a seven grain tuile, and a watercress granite, lending a cold jolt to the warming broth; a wonderfully unique combination of textures and flavors.
If the desserts remind you of The Modern, it’s because Kreuther not only left The Modern, taking many of his Alsatian signatures with him, but he also brought his pastry chef, Marc Aumont, as well. Here, Aumont demonstrates his constant evolution with a brilliantly high brow riff on chocolate forest cake; a Chocolate Kirsch Amarena with an ethereal, chocolate olive oil cake, kirsch sorbet & chocolate sauce poured tableside, but it’s the juicy Concord Grape Sorbet with nubs of Meringue and lemongrass jelly that has etched itself in my memory. If you prefer the simpler pleasures when it comes to sweets, a plate of warm Beignets, anointed with powdered sugar, and sided by apple marmalade will no doubt be your happy place.
Opening a restaurant in the traffic-riddled heart of midtown, just across from Bryant Park, isn’t exactly a home run. In fact, it’s a notably unchic part of town, and fussy fine dining isn’t exactly trendy right now. While most chefs are launching fast casual joints these days, Gabriel Kreuther took an old school route and its paying off big time, launching himself into a league with such luminaries as Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert and Jean-Georges. Really, it’s hard not to fall for the gorgeous decor and all-out thrilling European cooking at this daring new venture.