If the success of a chef is to be measured by the size of his restaurant portfolio, then chef David Burke is running with the best of them. Chef Burke oversees four successful restaurants around New York, as well as restaurants in Las Vegas, Chicago, and Connecticut. In fact, he can be credited (or blamed) for New York’s obsession with the tuna tartare from his time at River Cafe.
Yet today many diners judge chefs and restaurants by their celebrity status. If you’re not consistently on TV judging young chefs or cooking in front of a camera, you’re considered to be flying under the radar. Unfair, but true.
Earlier this year I had a wonderful dinner at David Burke’s Kitchen, the latest restaurant by Chef Burke at the James Hotel in Soho. When I was given the chance to attend a Chablis tasting event at Fishtail by David Burke, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to sample the cuisine. The Chablis tasting event, sponsored by Burgundy Wines, showcased 8 types of wines from the Chablis region from distinguished vintners. Chef Burke and Chef Sylvain Delpique then created the cuisine to complement the wines.
In the era of purpose built dining rooms, this townhouse conversion was extremely cozy. Past the bar on the first floor, diners ascend a wooden staircase onto the second floor, where the layout resembles a single family home, except both rooms are decorated with dining tables.
Being a special event designed for diners to mingle with wine makers, hors d’oeuvres were being passed around as guests each selected glasses of Chablis. The seafood focused finger food paired very well with the white wine, being simple and flavorful. I was especially fond of the lobster dumplings, crab cake, and tuna tartare wrapped in cucumber. While you won’t find these tiny bites on the regular menu, they gave me a good idea of what to expect for the meal.
The formal meal started with seared diver scallops with butternut squash puree, wild mushroom and tuile (thin crisp wafer). Though not the most exciting and innovative dish and layout, the scallops were flavorful with excellent color on both sides.
The main course was a Parmesan crusted halibut, topped with wax beans and roasted peaches. The pairing peach with fish conveyed a sense of American flavors. The fish was a slight bit on the dry side, which was a shame because otherwise the flavor was excellent.
Dessert was a simple cranberry carrot cake, with coconut sorbet. Simple, unpretentious and delicious. With everyone wiping their plates clean, out came a famous lollipop tree. Chef Burke’s been experimenting with gourmet lollipops for quite some time, and this cheesecake version was fantastic.
I’ve become quite a fan of David Burke’s restaurants. Simple, delicious food served in a warm welcoming setting. In the day and age when French restaurants are all a bit too formal, this American chef delivers French food with casual comfort.
The lunch was complimentary, which did not affect my review. Many thanks to the wine makers in attendance, we learned a huge lot about Chablis wine and will look for it on wine lists in the future
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