When the waiter at The Sea Grill mentioned the tasting dinner,
we barely looked at the menu. Ours was a unanimous "yes." We wouldn't
have to agonize about what to pick from the lengthy selections. The choice couldn't
have been more satisfying. There's nothing in Executive Chef Ed Brown's background
that suggests experience in kaiseki cooking and yet that is
exactly what we were reminded of. Kaiseki is a Japanese meal where course after
course of exquisite small portions of prized dishes are artistically presented
on fine tableware.
We started with a small crisp risotto cake filled with crème fraîche
and a layer of tiny salty beads of red Japanese caviar. Next came a chilled Maleque
oyster sitting on a cone of ice, wrapped with ribbons of seaweed and topped with
Osetra caviar. Glistening slices of salmon carpaccio bathed in lime juice and rice
vinegar followed. We continued with a sea scallop swaddled with large slices of black
truffle on top of a bed of steamed greens and crowned with caviar. Roasted monkfish
was a tad dry, but the mashed leek potatoes and the toasted leeks that accompanied
it were heavenly. Roasted lobster and angel hair pasta and fava beans with which
it was paired were also standouts.
Five ambrosial desserts were brought to the table–chocolate soufflé with
white chocolate ice cream, assorted sorbets, basmati rice torte with date Armagnac
ice cream, fruit and berry soup with a subtle liqueur base and warm chocolate steamed
We had a meal with perfect harmony although we ate no soup, salad, poultry or
meat. In spite of the quantity of food, we did not feel that we had overeaten. Everything
was light, greaseless and seasoned to perfection. Oh yes, steak and guinea hen are
on the menu, but fish and seafood are what the chef wants to feed people. Understandably.
He excels at preparing it.
The sommelier and chef are careful about matching food and wine and the captain
does a stellar job of suggesting the right bottles for the tasting menu. We enjoyed
a `92 Trefethen Riesling, a McDowell Viognier and a `93 Kisler Chardonnay.
In summer when the garden is dripping with baskets of flowers and the fountain
is flowing most guests at The Sea Grill, located in Rockefellar Center, choose to
dine outdoors. In winter when they must retreat behind a wall of glass, they hardly
feel deprived. The restaurant looks out on the famous skating rink.
The Sea Grill, Rockefellar Plaza Concourse, 19 West 49 Street, New
York, NY 10019. Tel. 212-246-9201. Lunch, Monday to Friday; dinner, Monday to
Saturday. Very expensive. www.restaurantassociates.com/theseagrill