Essential by Christophe New York

Visited in January 2023


Rating: yet unrated

During my trip to the US, I had a stopover of one and a half days in New York. This makes three possible reservations in restaurants, two for dinner, one for lunch. Currently, there are 72 restaurants in New York, which have at least one Michelin Macaron. A visit at Le Bernadin*** is always a given for me. Usually, I want at least to try one restaurant I have never been to, and that has been new to or upgraded in Guide Michelin. That was my SAGA** reservation on the first evening. They were upgraded to two Macarons last year.

If I had the possibility on my last trips, I always looked to visit l’atelier Robuchon** with its head chef Christophe Bellanca. I like the counter seating style and the possibility to taste a couple of courses à la Carte by choosing from the small tasting portions menu. L’atelier New York has closed down during the pandemic like every other restaurant in New York but never re-opened since then.

Christophe’s cuisine has always had a place in my memories. For example, the cabillaud I was served there I still remember as one of the best fish courses I ever had.
Therefore, I was looking for Christophe and read in the news that he will open his own restaurant on the upper west side beginning of December 2022. A must-go for me.

I arrived at the restaurant in time and entered a vibrant, almost fully booked location with a very elegant setting. No tablecloth, instead, a lot of wood and the table area with beige leather covering do not subtract any bit of this elegance.

The menu is divided into three sections, the dessert menu comes separately. Two of the courses in section “Trois”, the lobster and the duck were available as tasting portions. For me no question to go for it. In addition, I chose the hiramasa from section “Un”.

I had some interesting conversation with beverage director Andrea Morris about culinary topics. This evening I had to limit my wine consumption due to the forthcoming ongoing journey the next morning.

Amuse Bouche: warm mushroom cappuccino with sweet potato royale and a reduction of Madeira wine

Sour dough bread and butter

avocado / black radish / fresh yuzu

Thin slices of yellowtail kingfish of impeccable quality covered a brunoise of avocado and radish. A fresh yuzu vinaigrette was the combining element for all main ingredients. Chioggia and yellow beets as decorative elements and gels of black radish and yuzu and a little high-quality olive oil complemented this plate. This composition absolutely highlighted the main ingredient.

poached / endive and chestnut marmalade / chateau Chalon

Three fantastic pieces of butter-poached lobster were placed around marmalade made from endive and chestnut. This composition was surrounded by a superb sauce based on the specific vin jaune (yellow wine) Château Chalon from the French region Jura. Piment d’Espelette and some greens finished this plate. Lobster and marmalade contributed sweetness but not to the extent, that it really became a sweet course. Very good.

spiced / agave turnips / satsuma mandarine
Wine pairing: 2020 Broccardo, Langhe Nebbiolo ‘Il GiòPì’ Piedmont, Italy

A piece of duck breast came spiced, with white agave turnips, pickled warm pumpkin, black garlic gel and satsuma mandarine filets. The skin of the duck breast could have been a little crispier but the texture of the meat was perfect. Again a quite reduced plate, which highlighted its main ingredient.

Vacherin Glacé
clementine marmalade / citrus salad / orange blossom / kaffir sorbet

Kaffir lime sorbet on a red-orange clementine marmalade with citrus salad in a meringue hemisphere was covered with cream-based mousse and decorated with citrus fruit filet pieces. An orange blossom infusion completed the dessert. This was a quite fresh citrus fruit based dessert.

Passion fruit jelly
Pâte à Choux hazelnut crème filled
Mini Madeleine

Warm Manjari Chocolate Tart
madagascar vanilla ice cream

As courtesy of the chef, I had the possibility to taste the warm Manjari chocolate Tart which came with a high Madagascar vanilla concentration vanilla ice cream and a little dark chocolate sauce – fantastic. This dessert with its three ingredients chocolate (tuile, ganache, sauce), biscuit and vanilla ice cream demonstrates best the philosophy of Christophe Bellanca: keep it as simple as possible but use high-quality ingredients and the best traditional French kitchen techniques to boost the flavors of the main ingredients. This philosophy is indeed very similar to that of his friend Eric Ripert from Le Bernadin, one of my favorites in NY.

I think the statement from above is a well-expressed closing remark and the reason for that I do not write a summary usual in my other reviews this time.

Website: Essential by Christophe I French Restaurant in New York, NY


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