In the relentless drive to uncover the "next best" foodie treasure, decadent old-school culinary institutions are pushed aside and forgotten by the trendy set. But the youthful, the glamorous, the foodie, shouldn't be so quick to let the finicky standards of cool -- whatever that means -- prevent them from enjoying the tried-and-true.
Such is the case for New York City's Petrossian Restaurant (182 West 58th St.), located steps from Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. The French-Russian inspired menu opened in 1984 focusing on a savory indulgence: caviar.
On a recent Friday night, Petrossian's tables were empty save three. "You would think the food is terrible," I whispered to my dinner companion.
That's definitely not the case -- we were overwhelmed by the decadent texture of not just the caviar but each ingredient contained within the courses. Repeatedly, we found ourselves marveling, "Why aren't there more people here!?"
One reason might be the price; a small, succulent tasting of caviar can run from $65 to $300. But if your budget's a concern, try a tasting of several caviars with the Petrossian Tasting ($36).
Comprised of foie gras terrine, salmon and caviar Beggar's Purse; smoked sturgeon; smoked trout and trout caviar; and Transmontanus caviar on mini blini, the tasting features each item handsomely, like a miniature gift. With every bite I could feel myself growing happier and happier, as though Petrossian had given me the best food gift all year.
Continuing in this gifting theme, I will gush with enthusiasm for two particular dishes.
First, the seared Hudson Valley foie gras ($27) lit up my taste buds. Perfectly cooked, the foie gras was encircled by an even ring of black pepper caramel sauce. Then, alternating clusters of pistachio dates tart as well as rhubarb and pineapple anchored the slightly salty flavor of the foie gras with sweet relief.
Unquestionably, my favorite dish all night was the voluptuous pan-roasted Maine lobster risotto ($42). Large, unforgiving portions of lobster were perfectly cooked and laid on a bed of sautéed porcini mushrooms, Parmesan and black truffle shavings. For $6 more, a heaping spoonful of Caviar Transmontanus USA can be laid on top, and you should definitely go for it.
Rarely do I find words fail me, but with this dish, my mind registered nothing -- in a good way. I just ate, without being able to process, because I enjoyed the dish so much.
My singular critique of the restaurant would be their pastry/dessert menu. For such a marvelous savory menu, the sweets were wholly inadequate. The quenelle of ice cream was choppy, abrupt and mostly melted. The brownie too bitter, the tart too sweet. The desserts weren't for me, which is probably for the best because it will remind me to just focus on the caviar next time.