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Gilty Pleasure

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For dessert, Liebrandt’s pastry chef, Oscar Palacios, produces glassy domes of chestnut ice cream encircled with rings of chocolate. The house chocolate tart is flavored with tangerines and patterned on top with ribbons of white chocolate. It comes with a parfait made with ancho chili, which mixes with the chocolate in a spicy, unexpected, and generally excellent way. In a town inundated with bizarre chocolate creations, it’s one of the best things I’ve tasted.

Given treats like this, Gilt should be bustling with all sorts of fine-dining swells by now, but curiously, it’s not. Maybe that’s because there’s so much about the place, starting with the name, that seems faintly precious and stagy. Or maybe it’s that the new décor feels temporary and slapdash, as if the tenants were worried they might be evicted at any time. In the end, however, Liebrandt’s unique talents prevail. Catch the show while you can, before this virtuoso chef heads for the hills again.

GILT
Address:455 Madison Ave., at 50th St.; 212-891-8100
Hours: Lunch, Monday to Friday, noon to 2 p.m. Dinner, Monday to Saturday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Prices: Three-course prix fixe, $92. Ten-course tasting menu, $135.
Ideal meal: Foie gras, Pekin duck, chocolate-chili tart.
Note: The bread basket at Gilt is one of the best in town. It contains chestnut-flour rolls stuffed with candied chestnuts, among other delicious things.

Scratchpad: The pricing and the atmosphere are a little outlandish, but Liebrandt is clearly an elite chef. If his menu were larger and more varied, we’d be tempted to give him a fourth star.


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