Roast chicken for two is not carved table-side. The breast, a jucy wedge with a burnished skin, arrives on a platter with artichoke barigoule and a sumptuous brown bread-oyster jus.
Mr. Liebrandt may have been tamed since his Atlas days, but his is still food of the “If you can’t remember what you ordered, you’ll never guess what it is when it arrives” school.
The squab is not bird-shaped, but consists of two exquisite dark-pink rounds wrapped in bacon, served with chestnut cream topped with a shaving of truffles, and a foam of spiced milk. There’s foam, too, on the beautifully composed vegetables topped with a translucent cabbage leaf. (How does he manage to bring out so much flavor from a potato or an onion soubise?)
FOR A FANCY restaurant, Corton’s mainly French wine list offers many reasonably priced choices, including around 30 “country wines” under $55 (some good and some not so hot). There are 18 bottles of Corton red and white, priced from $90 to $735. There is also a reserve list available online of wines that must be ordered in advance.
Desserts by pastry chef Robert Truitt (El Bulli, Room 4 Dessert) end the meal on an appropriately high note. A light mousselike round of gianduja chocolate is topped with a white swirl of yuzu paste that adds the perfect note of acidity. The salted caramel brioche is outstanding, a daring interplay of flavors: passion fruit curd, banana and, the pièce de résistance, a small square of Stilton cheese (when it comes to cheese, the selection on the artisanal platter is excellent).
Corton manages to be grown-up and hip at the same time. There is no music, and although it can get loud, the room has good acoustics, so your evening isn’t shattered by high-pitched shrieks from the next table.
Of course, a recession is not a great time to open an expensive restaurant. On the plus side, my father used to joke that by going to three-star restaurants in France, he actually saved money, because for the next three days all he could eat was plain yogurt. So stock up on yogurt and head over to Corton. It’s the most important restaurant to open in the city this fall.
Moira Hodgson’s memoir, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, will be published in January by Nan Talese/Doubleday.
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