June 20, 2010
I feel a little guilty writing this review because this is my third review of Petrossian. I have 30+ reviews still sitting in my backlogs (including two New York trips and now an Atlanta trip too!), waiting to be written. Is it fair to write yet another Petrossian review while so many other restaurants have been sitting for months in queue, waiting to be typed onto screen?
No, it’s not really fair, but it’s just so easy to write Petrossian reviews. The food inspires me to write and the aesthetics behind Chef Ben’s food translate from plate to picture so effortlessly.
(Picture taken by Liz of Food, She Thought.)
Unlike my previous visits to Petrossian, which were basically planned to satisfy my hunger for fine dining, this visit was for a special occasion – this meal was the one that would later be featured on ABC7’s “Food Paparazzi” segment for both local and national broadcast. (I was very excited.) Given the occasion, Linden the Gastronomnom requested a small tasting menu and, as usual, Chef Ben did not disappoint.
Course 1: Caviar Surprise with King Crab and Apple Cider Jelly
We began our meal with a glass of hibiscus champagne, with its distinct vibrant rose color, and a hearty portion of “caviar surprise”. I was happy to finally taste the surprise, which I had seen on many a food blog, and enjoyed the sweetness of the crab and apple cider jelly against the saltiness of the caviar.
Course 2: Salmon Tartare, Caviar, Quail Egg
The salmon tartare was also delicious, as tartare and caviar have been known to do. (Another example: the steak tartare and caviar referenced in my first review.) As the course was perfectly seasoned, I found myself directly putting fork into mouth, completely ignoring the toast points provided on the side.
Course 3: Crispy Egg, Cipollini Onion Soubise, Pressed Caviar
My favorite component of this dish was surprisingly not the crispy egg but instead the onion soubise. Although a soubise is defined as a bechamel based sauce, I found the consistency to be more similar to a puree or a very thick soup. The runny yolk of the egg spilled into the soubise, making it even richer than originally plated.
Course 4: Skate, Brown Butter Foam, Crushed Potatoes, Sherry Vinegar Gelatin, Capers, Croutons
My first ever taste of skate will not be my last as I’ve never had anything similar in texture; it seemed to flake away in distinct layers. (To borrow an apt description by Ruth Reichl, it has a cordoroy-like texture.) The sherry vinegar gelatin was like a punch of flavor in the face (I mean that in a good way) and, surprisingly, did not distract from the rest of the dish. A complete bite of fish and accoutrements was salty and tart and buttery all at the same time – simply delightful.
Course 5: Sweetbreads, Baby Spinach, Maitake Mushroom
Our last course is typically not found on the menu, although I wish it was. As a lover of sweetbreads, I appreciated the simplicity of the dish because the natural taste of the sweetbreads was allowed to shine.
As mentioned previously, this meal was for a special occasion and Chef Ben outdid himself with this menu. Looking back now – the caviar in excess, the flutes of champagne, the TV crew – it feels a little surreal. This is, in no way, “normal” in my life…but I could get used to it. I just have to find a camera crew to follow me around and I’ll be set!
(Note: Since I’ve had people ask: ABC7 did NOT cover any part of this meal. I don’t think they would have let us splurge on caviar and champagne if they had…)