Spud Heaven

March 31st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The best potato dish ever devised by humankind is pommes souflee. These airy, crisp bits of spud heaven are a testament to culinary creativity. The method of preparation is a double frying of potatoes and requires efficient temperature control and deft hands. As mentioned in a previous post, HG always enjoyed them at the old Oak Room in New York’s Plaza Hotel. In London, HG consumed them accompanying a toothsome mixed grill in the restaurant of the Connaught Hotel ( In its heyday, despite its English location, it was hailed as the best French restaurant in the world). However, the best pommes souflee were found at the long closed, aptly named Charles a la Pommes Souflee on New York’s E. 55th Street. Second helpings were encouraged. HG took advantage. Sadly, pommes souflee have virtually disappeared from New York, Paris and London menus. There is one place to taste them in all their glory. This means a voyage to Paris and a visit to Au Boeuf Couronne, a venerable steak house in Paris 19e. Order a saignant (rare) steak topped with either sauce bearnaise or beef marrow. A big side of the lush taters. Clog your arteries with pleasure.


Putting on the Ritz

February 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has never enjoyed pricey, upscale, high cuisine restaurants. In many decades of dining, only four have given HG pleasure commensurate with the expenditure. One, Le Pavillon, in New York is long gone, but memories of their fillets of smoked eel topped with a horseradish-infused whipped cream will linger on the HG palate forever. Another, the Connaught Hotel Restaurant in London offered the quintessential civilized English dining experience — perfect Dover Sole (de-boned at the table), Stilton and Port to finish (with a cigar service for those who indulged – and HG did just that). Alas, the Connaught has changed so much that it is unrecognizable. Two, both in New York, are alive and well. One is Le Bernardin and the other is the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building. Le Bernardin is flawless, simply the best seafood in the world prepared with flair and imagination. Fabulous wine list supervised by a renowned sommelier. Very, very expensive but not insane. Lunch Prix Fixe is $72 (three courses) and Dinner Prix Fixe is $127 (four courses). Tasting menu is more extravagant — $237 with paired wines. HG was a frequent diner at the Four Seasons during HG’s New York career. The Pool Room is the most beautiful restaurant space in the world. Curiously, New York big shots never ate there. They chose the more austere Grill Room. Menu is the same in both rooms. The Four Seasons used to be expensive but affordable for tax deductible meals. Now, the prices have gone through the roof. An appetizer of Spaghetti with Poached Egg and Black Truffles is $75. Grilled shrimp appetizer is $38. Venison, lamb chops, bison and steak are about $75. If you want to sample Four Seasons cuisine without going broke, take a seat at the bar. The Bar Menu is delicious and affordable (comparatively).

London Memories and Grace Notes

May 5th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Best restaurant in the world was the restaurant in London’s Connaught Hotel (it was right up there with Le Pavillion under the reign of Henri Soule).

The Connaught Dining Room

HG gathers that the cuisine at the Connaught has changed but HG likes to think about it during its glory days. HG and BSK always lunched there during visits to London. Superb smoked salmon sliced paper thin and served with brown bread, butter, capers, etc. (HG once remarked on the perfect slicing. A captain explained: “James has been slicing salmon here for 37 years”). A mixed grill with souffle potatoes or perfectly de-boned, grilled dover sole with savory butter sauce. Stilton and port to finish.

Once, the HG/BSK table wasn’t ready as per their reservation. HG and BSK were ushered into a lovely chintz and old oak ante room. With graceful apologies we were offered glasses of chilled, dry sherry (on the house, of course).

Another London favorite was J. Sheekey, the seafood restaurant in the theater district. More casual than the Connaught and the perfect place for oysters and grilled fish. Once, a waitperson spilled a drink at the HG/BSK table. The wet table cloth was whisked away and replaced by a new one. Once more, graceful apologies ensued and (with a flourish) a bottle of very good, gratis champagne appeared. Nice memories of English grace and generosity.