Orchids at Palm Court is the architectural center of Netherland Plaza and this Art Deco hall was the site for our first dinner in 2010. Stepping into the premises always gives one a sense of elegance and we gathered with feeling of class and privilege. Executive Chef Todd Kelly strived for great heights in his culinary plans with ambitious flavor combinations through the evening. We started with an array of appetizers including Serrano ham croquettes and pastry barquettes, or “little boats” filled with creamed blue cheese and fruit chutney. Seared fois gras with tarragon butter was luxurious and matched well with a glass of Flowers Chardonnay, whose vineyards overlook the Pacific on the Sonoma coast.
After taking our seats, we recieved an amuse-bouche with a trio of tastes. Diced scallop and shitake on a spoon was delightfully smoky and mini-pastries dressed with crab and persimmon or goat cheese and caviar had us very curious as what would come with our flutes of Laurent-Perrier Brut. The answer was butter poached Maine lobster atop ravioli filled with ricotta, egg, and black truffle. This complex marriage of flavors made for a heady experience where the egg and truffle made a great combination and was beautifully enhanced by the Champagne.
Our next course featured loup de mer, also known as Mediterranean sea bass, served with clams and veal sweetbread. The real star here was the wine, a 2006 Puligny-Montrachet from Louis Jadot. The Clos de la Garenne vineyard owned by the Duc de Magenta MacMahon family along with their Chassagne holdings are the only bottlings with unique and distinct labels allowed by Domaine Jadot and with one sniff and taste there is no doubt why this is so! Beautiful, elegant, and lyrical, this has gotten richer in recent vintages and simply overshadowed everything else.
Our third course gave hint at “surf n’ turf” with roasted duck breast and a terrine of smoky Unagi freshwater eel. Celery root, blood orange, almonds, and curry oil gave another interesting combination with lots of contrasting flavors and textures. Finally Chef Kelly revealed his pride of the evening, New York strip steak slow cooked in a butter immersion for four hours, then seared before serving. He explained this method was decidedly distinct from sous vide but in any case was heavenly with braised ox tails and semolina gnocchi. A 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Darioush was so delicious with this that the group made a gallant effort to finish off the wine supply.
Finally came a dessert duet of passion fruit soufflé and chocolate bête noire, perfectly done with neither gem too sweet nor too fluffy. Chef Kelly returned one last time to the accolades of all the diners and we knew this was a feast to be fondly remembered for many days.
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest