Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The new Aureole

June 9

Restaurateur Charlie Palmer is in town, and he took the opportunity to provide a preview of his new flagship for local media.
As I mentioned when reporting on my most recent "hard hat" preview party (so named because the places are still under construction), at the much ballyhooed DBGB, it’s smart to give media a preview, because it makes us feel closer to the project.
The new Aureole is very much in line with what fine dining restaurants are doing in New York these days. I’d show you a picture, but I have no confidence in my ability to do justice to interiors with my inferior photography. The folks at eater.com took nice shots, if you’re curious.
Instead I have a couple of artist’s renderings, the first is a view from 42nd St. The second is from Anita's Way, which is the little alley next to Aureole, before Broadway.
Anyway, as I was saying, Aureole is doing what a lot of fine dining restaurants are doing these days — diversifying.
As Charlie Palmer said (after asking me where my hard hat was) the new Aureole has three dimensions: a bar, a bar-lounge area and a fine dining room. In addition, it has a private room that seats 60 and can hold 100 people for cocktails or whatever.
The restaurant, which is starting preview parties with actual food next week (we just got a glass of Champagne, and a bag of milk chocolate-covered toffee from pastry chef Jennifer Yee), has three menus: one of bar snacks, a bar menu that will basically be American brasserie food (this is a fairly new term, but it’s becoming popular; Michael Symon said something similar about the food at his new restaurant, Bar Symon, in the Cleveland suburb of Avon Lake), and a fine dining menu for the dining room, which will be an old-school prix-fixe affair at dinner. The bar and the dining room will have the same menu at lunch, and it will be à la carte, although a prix-fixe option will be available in the dining room.
In that second picture you can see that one of the design features is what they’re calling the “wine mezzanine,” which will house 3,500 of the restaurant’s 15,000 bottles — mostly French and Californian — including 100 varieties for less than $100.
The art hasn’t been installed yet, but Charlie said they’re computer enhanced images by designer Adam Tihany’s son, Bram Tihany. “This art was developed over many, many bottles of Champagne,” he assured us.
The kitchen is freakin’ huge. The picture with Jennifer Yee in the middle, a cook kind of in front of her, Charlie on the right and a bunch of media types on the left, is in the pastry kitchen. The savory kitchen is around the corner. All told, it’s three to four times the size of the old Aureole’s kitchen.
Today was the first day they had gas, so executive chef Chris Lee and his crew were starting to practice and tweak their dishes. I asked Chris how the food here would be different from his last job, at Gilt, and he said it would be pretty much the same — seasonally driven modern American.
Charlie praised Chris’s knowledge of modern kitchen technology and the fact that he doesn’t use it "to the point where it’s foolish.”
They hope to be taking paying customers by the last week of June or first week of July. Some parties are already booked for late July, and a grand opening party and fundraiser for Citymeals on Wheels will be held after Labor Day.
Commenting on the restaurant’s three dimensions, Charlie said he wasn’t looking for new customers, but for the same customers to use the restaurant on different occasions.
Aureole and its PR machine say the restaurant is in Bryant Park, but it’s quite near the corner of 42nd and Broadway, meaning it’s also in Times Square and will almost definitely have a robust pre-theater crowd. That, as Charlie said, will be a learning experience.
Management was nice enough to share with us some very early draft menus that should in no way be considered a reliable source of information on what actually will be served in the restaurant.
Here they are:

Bar Room Dinner Menu

1st Course

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
Canadian Lobster / Avocado / Baby Basils

Foie Gras Torchon
Wild Strawberries / Anise Hyssop / Pistachio / Brioche

Diver Sea Scallop “Sandwich”
Sugar Snap Peas / Passion Fruit / Chives

Crispy Soft Shell Blue Crab
Belgium Endive / Granny Smith Apple / Sauce Rémoulade

Pasta Garganelli
Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes / Fresh Mozzarella / Prosciutto di Parma

Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare
Diakon Radish / Nori Toast Points / Miso Sake Dressing

“House Made” Charcuterie
Onion Marmalade / Pickle Vegetables / Country Bread

Farmed Baby Green Salad
Blue Cheese / Summer Vegetables / White Balsamic Dressing

2nd Course

“Aureole” Grilled Burger
Smoked bacon, Vermont White Cheddar, Creamy Pickled Ramp Dressing

Wild Striped Bass
White Asparagus / Smoked Yellow Tomato / Watermelon

Free Range Chicken
Black Beluga Lentils / Baby Romaine / Smoked Ham Hock / Chicken Jus

Scottish Organic Salmon
Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes / Fava Beans / Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Whole Roasted Branzini
Artichokes / Capers / Black Olive / Piquillo Peppers / Anchovies

Berkshire Pork Chop
Porcini Mushrooms / Summer Squash / Peaches / Picked Ramp Pork Jus

West Coast Halibut
Sweet Yellow Corn / Potato Gnocchi / Sugar Snap Peas / Basil Pesto

NY Strip Loin
Green Asparagus / Potato Puree / Tarragon Mustard Beef Jus

Dining Room Dinner menu:

1st Course

Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare
Daikon Radish, Nori Toast Points, Aji Amarillo, Miso Sake Dressing

Artichoke Ravioli
Louisiana Crayfish, Black Olive Oil, Andouille Sausage, White Wine Caper Sauce

Diver Sea Scallop “Sandwich”
Seared Foie Gras, Sugar Snap Peas, Passion Fruit, Chives

Japanese Madai Snapper Ceviche
Summer Melons, Hearts of Peach Palm, Cucumber, Avocado, Prosciutto di Parma

Crispy Soft Shell Blue Crab
Belgium Endive, Granny Smith Apple, Smoked Paprika, “Sauce Rémoulade”

Local Heirloom Tomatoes
Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Cheese Gelato, Haricot Vert, Petite Lettuces, Pine Nut Crumble

Grilled Foie Gras
Maine Blueberries, Corn Bread, Pickled Jalapenos, Macadamia Nuts

Chilled Sweet Yellow Corn Soup
American Caviar, Vidalia Onions, Lemon Citrus, Ancho Chile Oil

2nd Course

Crispy Black Sea Bass
French White Asparagus, Smoked Yellow Tomato, Endive, Watermelon, Basil Vinaigrette

West Coast Halibut
Smoked Bacon, Baby Leeks, Haricot Vert, Preserve Lemon, Razor Clam Broth

Olive Oil Poach Alaskan King Salmon
Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Quinoa, Watercress, Fava Beans, Warm Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Canadian Lobster Tail vs. Berkshire Pork Belly
Summer Squash, Porcini Mushrooms, Cape Goose Berries, Jura Wine, Almond Emulsion

Label Rouge Poularde
Sweet Yellow Corn, Black Beluga Lentils, Baby Romaine, Smoked ham Hock, Foie Gras Jus

Veal Tenderloin and Sweetbreads
Wild Asparagus, Charred Onion, Georgia Peaches, Pickled Ramps, Lovage Veal Jus

21 Day Aged Beef Rib Eye
Chanterelle Mushrooms, Green Asparagus, Potato Puree, Tarragon Mustard Beef Jus

Australian Rack of Lamb
English Peas & Carrots, Cipollini Onions, Medjool Dates, Almonds, Vadouvan Devonshire Cream

As for pastry, Jennifer, like Chris, comes from Gilt where she worked at Gilt under executive pastry chef David Carmichael. She now has her own chocolate room and will be making her own ice cream.

Bread’s being made in-house, too, according to Chris.


Jennifer Heigl said...

Even in the preliminary stages, the menu sounds yummy!

wishbone said...

That menu does sound great!