Monday, March 11, 2013

Monumental at Montmartre: A Review

Cavalo Nero Tarte Renversee
After vacationing with the family in Florida for over a week, I had to get my NYC restaurant fix as soon as walking off the plane yesterday.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I read that Chef Tien Ho's new place opened up in Chelsea while I was out of town - I seriously could not possibly wait a moment longer to try the new Montmartre. While cruising the high seas and returning back to the city, I sent a note to get my son a babysitter for the same evening we returned home. I just had to make arrangements to get to Ho's new digs ASAP.

Obsessed?
Maybe.
But a part of it's also because I missed his creations and culinary talents since he's been on hiatus and traveling the world for inspiration.

Now that Tien's back and in a new space, it's exactly what diners expect. It's what I would call Tien's Double D: delightful and delicious.

So, what did I order?
Cavalo Nero Tarte Renversee, which was hard to pronounce, but I just asked for the "Cavalo" and the waiter was silently empathetic to my struggling with the fran├žais. It was a beautiful appetizer with nicely vinegar-seasoned kale and a flaky crust with an anchovy, Parmesan cheese and egg yolk to compliment and balance the tartness.
We also sampled the Hamachi - it was bursting with a zest and harmony with each bite. I would highly recommend an order of the Cassava Chips -as these will compliment any appetizers and perhaps your entree - they go down quite easily, so try to manage the temptation to gobble them down too quickly.

As an entree, I felt like being bold.... And I wasn't disappointed. If anything, I was a bit shocked at the portion. The lobster dish is what I would call "redic" -as in ridiculous. It was HUGE and required help from my husband. I could not eat this entire lobster with all of its accoutrements - but I wanted to! My photo of it really sucks - the flash does not make it look pretty - and it WAS. It was just a gargantuan plate of succulent crustacean. The only downside to the dish is that you have to work at it a bit - meaning, you have to be prepared to get some of the meat off the shell. Chef does a great job making it accessible as possible, but you'll still need to be prepared to dig in. Literally. It's why they give you one of those smaller seafood forks.

It's also smothering a lot of potatoes -which are delicious, but the portion is beyond manageable for one person. Consider making this a sharable dish for 2.

Lobster
I would also point you to ordering the sticky rice - it's not what you think it is - it's a bit more complex and has a savory and a sweet flavor. This, in my own opinion, is what Chef Tien Ho is about; this is his signature and eclectic style: the element of surprise with the simplest of ingredients that encourages me to try things that he puts together time and again.

For the final portion of the evening, I simply could NOT eat (much less request any) dessert -but my husband went ahead and ordered the Pot de Creme. As I am one to shy away from gelees, I initially did not want to sample, but curiosity had the best of me. I sincerely enjoyed the bitterness and creamy overtones of this strong Vietnamese coffee-based concoction. However, texture plays a big role for me - and I did not like the gelatinous composition. It's not fair to say that it wasn't a good dessert, I'm only saying that it wasn't for me. And French desserts in general seem to use a lot of gelatin based creations - so it was fitting to have this on the menu.


All in all, I enjoyed my evening - it was spectacular. What I would recommend would be some smaller portions so that a menu sampling would be more feasible. Once the lobster arrived and the potatoes, it was all over for me. I was on food overload.

It should also be mentioned that the service was on par, too, despite the constant traffic. So many people were coming in and out all evening. The space was interesting -but already looks/feels too small.  It's a great start of what I hope to be a very long lasting home for Chef Ho... and I'm not calling the restaurant a French F*cking Bistro, because I want to go back a LOT.

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