Poor Jennifer Watson! She’s smart, talented and interesting, yet she thought she was unable to perform the simple task of reading my blog. Because she knew I was having dinner with her at Aureole, and yet according to my blog, I was still in Hawaii.
In fact, I got back from The Aloha State weeks ago and still haven’t finished writing about it (that Aloha State link will take you to all of my blog entries about that trip — current and future).
Jennifer sells defibrillators and pacemakers to cardiologists, but she doesn’t just sell them. She goes into the operating rooms with the cardiologists and observes their procedures. She also entertains her cardiologists, of course, and she loves, loves, loves food and drink. So it’s fun to eat out with her, not just because of her good company and appreciation of the meal, but because she often knows people working in the restaurant.
That’s especially true if those people have ever been involved in Daniel Boulud’s restaurant empire, because Jennifer loves Daniel’s restaurants and eats at them a lot. Indeed, the last time I saw Jennifer, we started the evening at a gay pride cocktail party at the Beard House, followed it up with music at Arlene’s Grocery and finished it with wine and sausages at Daniel’s newest restaurant, DBGB. Daniel himself was there, and he sat down and chatted. As I had just returned from Hawaii at that point, we spoke about sustainable fisheries among other things. (The wine, incidentally was not yet the house wine being blended for DBGB in Brooklyn, but an inexpensive boxed wine that they referred to, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as a “soft magnum.” I’m not sure whether DBGB’s house wine is ready yet.)
Anyway it seems that a lot of people who used to work for Daniel have found jobs at the new Aureole.
There’s nothing scandalous about that. Restaurant workers move around a lot as opportunities present themselves, and it makes sense for them to see different styles of cooking, management and service.
So just as Aureole’s kitchen is heavily spiced with staff from Oceana and Gilt, which are two of executive chef Chris Lee's last three jobs (after Oceana and before Gilt, he was at Striped Bass in Philadelphia), the front-of-the-house has hostesses, managers and wine people from Daniel’s restaurants. They greeted Jennifer with warmth, and they were nice to me, too.
Chris started us off with the corn soup, and he personally brought out a middle course of Alaska halibut. Jennifer thought that was especially cool.
What I ate:
Chilled sweet yellow corn soup with American caviar, Vidalia onions, lemon citrus and ancho chile oil
Artichoke Ravioli with Louisiana crayfish, black olive oil, andouille sausage and white caper wine sauce
Alaska halibut with fruits de mer, baby carrots, fresh garbanzo beans, preserved lemon and saffron mussel sauce
Canadian lobster tail and Berkshire pork belly with summer squash, chanterelle mushrooms, Cape gooseberries, jura wine and an almond emulsion
Cherry brioche panzanella with almond cream, roasted cherry sorbet and fennel
And a bunch of chocolates and other mignardises