Restaurant Daniel, with 2 Michelin Stars, was already our favorite Michelin star restaurant in NYC. The restaurant's dining room is beautiful, but it also commits you to a tasting menu of at least 4 courses.
More recently, we've had a couple occasions to dine at the Lounge at Restaurant Daniel, where you're free to enjoy either the tasting menu or a la carte. Here's my review of the Lounge at Restaurant Daniel experience, updated for 2019.
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Restaurant Daniel Location, Hours and Reservations
Restaurant Daniel is located at 60 East 65th Street, between Park Avenue and Madison Avenue, and is in the beautiful space originally inhabited by Le Cirque and the L'Orangerie area of the former Mayfair hotel. As you enter, the Lounge is immediately on your right.
Dinner is served Monday-Saturday 5-10:30, and the Lounge remains open until 11pm, to allow guests to finish their nightcap, wine or coffee.
Note that the Lounge takes reservations, and I highly recommend advance reservations, particularly around holiday periods and for Friday and Saturday nights.
Our most recent visit was an early Saturday evening dinner. There were a couple other tables in the lounge already seated, a young couple and a solo diner. Later on during our meal 3 other tables were seated, a couple of young women, an older couple, and a solo young woman.
Restaurant Daniel A La Carte Menu and Food in the Lounge
If you opt for the 4 course prix fixe menu, it's $158 in both the main dining room and the bar, and is an excellent deal if you have the time for all the courses. On our most recent visit, we chose to go a la carte, sharing an appetizer, ordering one main course each, and sharing a dessert. Here were some of the appetizer selections:
Main course menu options included:
After making our selections, we enjoyed a cheese and walnut tartlet, followed by a plated lobster amuse bouche that was fantastic.
We also indulged in excellent warm cheese rolls from the bread selection that was offered; the brioche rolls are also excellent.
The appetizer my husband chose, the Rabbit Terrine, was perhaps not my favorite appetizer at Daniel, mainly because I don't care for anything that contains gelatin or similar, but the taste was sensational, with the delicate rabbit nicely complemented with tarragon in the terrine, and with some of the rabbit meat used in the spring vegetable salad that accompanied it.
My main course of Wagyu Strip Loin was perfectly cooked to medium rare as requested, wonderfully flavorful and tender, with the crispy potato cakes and blue cheese over the young spinach a classic combination, yet much more refined. If there's one criticism, it's that this dish could have had a slightly larger portion size, given the $83 price.
As much as I enjoyed my dish, I liked my husband's main course of Pennsylvania Quail with Foie Gras, Morel Mushrooms and Vin Jaune sauce even more. The rich foie gras and quail were so well complemented by the sensational sauce and earthy, flavorful early morels. We mopped up every last bit of the sauce with our bread.
Since he picked the appetizer, I got to pick the dessert. Here's the dessert menu:
I chose the Pishori Pistachio Infused Opalys Chocolate. My husband is completely indifferent to pistachio, or so he says, but I had to battle him just to enjoy my half of the dessert, which he loved as much as I did. The top quality pistachios that infused the chocolate and encased a center of silky salted caramel made this dessert sublime. The only thing I changed was to request a substitution of Chocolate Borneo Spice Ice Cream in lieu of the Frankincense Ice Cream, since I wanted some intense dark chocolate ice cream instead of the more subtle Frankincense.
Subsequently, we were brought fresh mini madeleines, piping hot from the oven–such a treat, with their crispy exterior and tender crumb.
A wonderful parting gift were these canneles, the best in NYC, with their crunchy caramelized crusts. They were the perfect accompaniment the next day to our morning coffee.
While I like to occasionally splurge on a great tasting menu, increasingly I prefer the flexibility and more minimal time commitment of an a la carte dinner, and the Lounge at Restaurant Daniel fits the bill perfectly. Yes, individual dishes are pricey, but given the exceptional quality of the sourcing and preparation, and particularly the excellent service, completely worth it. I prefer Restaurant Daniel at this point to NYC's 3 Michelin star and other 2 Michelin star restaurants that I've tried, it's our current favorite high end restaurant in NYC.
If you've dined recently at Restaurant Daniel in NYC, what were your favorite dishes?
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