This venue is closed.
Ed Brown, Eighty One’s chef and owner, is an accomplished veteran of New York’s high-roller restaurant circuit, and he executes his ambitious “Modern American” menu with an impressive expense-account panache. The restaurant gets its cache of black truffles from Provence, and its Osetra caviar straight from the Caspian Sea. There are frog’s legs from Florida, expensive pumpkin oil from Austria, even curls of rare cinnamon bark stealthily imported from Iran. My first dish was an opulent, $28 composition of softly cooked Jones Farm leeks (listed on the menu under the chef’s “Tasting Collection”) topped with truffles and that most fetishized of boutique barnyard ingredients, the soft-boiled “farm egg.” When I asked my attentive and well-informed waitperson where Jones Farm was, she said that it’s an organic farm in Ohio. The leeks, along with some of the restaurant’s other vegetables, are grown with loving care there and flown to Brown’s kitchen in New York.
Despite this imposing carbon footprint, it is my duty to report that if you’re willing to pay $28 for a ration of exceptionally tasty leeks, you won’t be disappointed. Among the other Tasting Collection recipes I tried, I also enjoyed my tuna tartare ($21 for three little wheels of tuna garnished with different esoteric toppings), although the chef’s signature “warm smoked salmon” (an overly salty mélange made more salty still by the Osetra caviar) wasn’t worth its outlandish $39 sticker price. The smoked-cod chowder is a more sensible deal ($15, including a righteous chopping of Niman Ranch bacon), and so are the fresh baby calamari, tossed with garlic chips, smoked paprika, and parsley. The most accomplished of the appetizers, my tasters and I agreed, was the ravioli, stuffed with sweet scallops and a hint of foie gras. Devoted barnyard snobs will also enjoy the pleasingly vinegary Berkshire-pork belly, and the poached hen egg, which is served over segments of soft, milky sweetbreads and toasted brioche.Note
Aficionados consider the fresh-baked bread sticks at the bar to be among the best in town.Ideal Meal
Scallop–and–foie gras ravioli or poached hen egg, braised veal shank, caramelized Anjou-pear tart.
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