I have had several meals at Michael White’s spots in New York and had mixed experiences, some of which I liked ( Marea) and some which were just ok so Vaucluse would be a new experiment. Before our dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, we stayed at Bedford Post Inn and ate at the restaurant on site (Campagna). We were not blown away, so the fact that I had a work dinner a couple of days later at his new French spot was not overly exciting me, but I was looking forward to seeing several people I had not chatted with in a while.
When we checked into the hotel they actually told us that chef White was in the kitchen that evening, which was a rare occurrence and that we were in for a treat….hmmmm, not so much and I wasn’t too impressed with my food (I dined alone since Stewart wasn’t feeling well and went back to the room after he looked at his starter, and concluded that he didn’t feel like eating anything). Maybe I wasn’t impressed as I was dining alone and sharing food is a key element of a good meal in my book.
Vaucluse’s ambiance is nice but a bit stuffy and screams expense account. I prefer my NY restaurants a bit buzzier and fun and I am sick of chefs who have way too many restaurants and who are never actually in the kitchen. It was a good spot for a work dinner as several of the people live uptown and it was quiet so we could chat and hear each other (yes, we are all getting old).
What we ate:
We shared loads of starters which is always fun and I can try more things…
Saumon Fumé: Hoff was trying to be healthy, so he went with the house smoked salmon with beetroot, dill, horseradish and rye crisp and it was one of my favourites. The salmon was flawless and cut in thicker slices and partnered perfectly with all the other things on the plate.
Poireaux vinaigrette: the chilled roasted leeks were really good. The leeks were very soft and didn’t have the strong onion taste that leeks can sometimes present. They were sprinkled with almonds and tossed in a whole-grain mustard vinaigrette. Tasty.
Assiette de Charcuterie: chef’s selection of terrines & pâtés. The men devoured this and loved it. I prefer thinly sliced cold cuts versus pâtés but they were very good.
Tartare de Boeuf: hand-cut filet of beef, capers and cornichons. Nicely done but not unique or special.
Épaulettes: rabbit & reblochon cheese ravioli in a black truffle sauce. I had read that this was a must order dish and it was very good despite the truffle taste being somewhat dormant. Michael White’s specialty is Italian and it shows through this pasta. It didn’t look as pretty as the other pasta but tasted better.
Étoile de Fromage: comté ravioli with brussels sprouts, trumpet royale and pine nuts looked stunning but was slightly too salty. Still, the quality of the pasta was great and it was an original combination of flavours.
We didn’t share mains so I tasted the seared sea scallops, roasted parsnip, chicory and béarnaise that were well cooked and tasty, but not unique or exciting.
Burger: one of the individuals who attended the dinner had a burger as he hates fussy food. He happens to be the same person who one brought a four day supply of bagels with him to Macau. Since he didn’t offer me a bite, I can’t write about it sadly…….but the others who were at the dinner thought it was typical and worth a blog mention! And his closest friend specifically called him déclassé, but in a loving and endearing way. I appreciate how he stood by what he likes, but wish he had given me a bite…..
Lapin à la Moutarde: I got excited about this dish thinking of the first time I tasted rabbit over 10 years ago when we moved to Las Vegas and ate at Le Cirque. It was the best rabbit I ever tasted, tossed with spätzle but sadly this one wasn’t as good. They served one big slow cooked rabbit leg on top of overly creamy barley with Dijon and bacon and there were just too many flavours and the dish was too rich.
We ordered some desserts to share and some people had their own.
Tarte Vaucluse: cocoa sable, toasted hazelnut dacquoise, chocolate crémeux, Chantilly. A nice tarte, very classic but not spectacular.
Soufflé Chaud Chocolat: valrhona guanaja 70% chocolate, white coffee ice cream. This was a small but tasty soufflé and very chocolaty. The coffee ice cream was almost like café au lait and you could barely taste the coffee.
In sum: a decent meal. Maybe a place to go with conservative parents – not mine)., but it was not the type of place that I would rush to go back or add to my NY list, since my business colleagues all said there are many other places they prefer in the Upper East like the restaurant at The Mark. Maybe my 7, 7, 7 rating is too harsh, some dishes were tasty but 8 to me means I want to eat it again, and nothing was memorable enough for me to rush back. The ambiance is lovely, just not my style and too sterile.
100 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10065, United States