Last month, I was invited to a special event with a handful of New York food bloggers at Fives at The Peninsula New York. We gathered in the modern and sleek space and marveled at the view of Fifth Avenue, peering down at the crowds of people hustling along, some on their way home from the office and others popping in and out of the stores in the neighborhood. But, of course, people-watching wasn't the main reason for us getting together. We were there to celebrate the restaurant's new Executive Chef, Anuwat Nu Morakotjantachote ("Chef Nu") and the premiere of their seasonal spring menu.
Before long, the champagne was opened and trays filled with delicious bites were paraded past us at a staggering rate. The first appetizer I tried was the Shrimp Spring Roll with Fresh Ginger, presented in a small glass with a spoonful of a sweet and tangy dipping sauce on the bottom. I was in awe of the simple genius of the presentation. Serving the spring rolls this way prevented us from having to hover over a large bowl of dipping sauce, and we were left to double- or triple-dip to our hearts' content.
I also tried a Deviled Quail Egg with Lobster. Oh-so-creamy and delicately decadent. I could have eaten the entire platter of those deviled eggs! I just wish I had moved a little faster so I could have also tried the deviled eggs with chives and the deviled eggs with bacon. The price I pay for insisting on taking ten thousand photos of this little guy.
As we began moving to our designated table, a server asked me if I wanted to try a Foie Gras Napoleon. I couldn't very well turn down foie gras, so I gratefully placed a Napoleon on my napkin and nibbled as I walked. Layers of flaky pastry and whipped foie gras? Delicious! I enjoyed so many appetizers that I began to wonder whether I'd be able to make it through our tasting dinner.
While the wine was being poured, Chef Nu came out and talked a little about the amuse-bouche he prepared for us. A gelee of sorts, this smooth, chilled bite packed the intense flavor of carrot and fresh ginger.
Our generous Appetizer Course consisted for four different dishes. The Chilled Asparagus Soup, made with crab and baby spring asparagus was refreshing and light on the palate. The epitome of spring in a bowl elevated in elegance by the bits of crab. This was one of my favorites of the night.
Next, a simple salad of Fava Beans with Pecorino and Prosciutto tossed with fresh mint and crispy homemade croutons. I loved how the saltiness of the prosciutto paired with the fava beans.
Rounding out the trio of appetizers presented all on the same plate was the Tea-Smoked Cod with Sake Cucumber Spaghetti and Tomato and Ginger Relish. The cod was moist and showcased the unmistakable scent and flavor of black tea. While those flavors were fascinating, I was most intrigued by the strands of cucumber spaghetti that were laced with sake. So, so good.
Those three dishes were plenty for the first course; however, Chef Nu planned on spoiling us. As our plates were cleared, bowls of the Hand-Rolled Cavatelli with Cockles, House-Picked Ginger, and Lardon appeared. I mentioned above that the Chilled Asparagus Soup was one of my favorites of the night. Well, this pasta dish was another. The chunks of lardon and the buttery sauce made me want to savor every single bite. I think I was the last one to finish, but I don't care. Delaying the rest of the meal was worth it.
For the Fish Course, we enjoyed two types of fish. First? Poached Halibut with Caponata and Baby Artichoke Chips which was moist and perfectly cooked, flaking with the gentlest nudge by my fork. The tangy brininess from the caponata was luscious, and I couldn't help but brush each bite through the balsamic reduction dotted around the fish. And the crispy texture of the artichoke chips helped balance out the entire dish.
On the other side of the plate was our second fish dish, the Roasted Wild Monkfish with Spring Vegetables and Romesco Sauce. I discovered my love of Romesco sauce during my dinner at New York Central at the Grand Hyatt. The relatively complex flavors of the sauce, prepared here with fennel, played well with the dense texture and the subtle sweetness of the fish. As I'm not a huge fan of monkfish, I only had a few bites... But I made sure to leave no trace of the sauce behind!
I was filling up. I knew I was going to have to buckle down. I had to really concentrate in order to psyche myself up for the Meat Course. With a grand ta-da, the chef presented us with his Herb Salt-Crusted Grass-Fed Veal Loin with Grape and Morel Mushroom Ragout. The salt was infused with fresh herbs and then combined in a 1:1:1 ratio with egg whites and flour to create the crust. Chef Nu warned us that leaving a salt crust on meat for too long will result in meat that is too salty and assured us that this salt crust was only left on the veal for 30 minutes in order to impart the maximum amount of balanced flavor.
Oh, the flavor! You could really taste the fresh rosemary and thyme and the sweetness of the ragout was fantastic. The only thing that kept me from truly enjoying the dish was the texture of the veal. I actually found it a little too tough for my liking.
My favorite of the two meat dishes with the Spring Grass-Fed Lamb Chops with peas three ways -- pea mash, pea tendrils, and pea vierge. What a treat to have so many flavors of spring on one plate! Chef Nu told us that the lamb is local, sourced from farms in upstate New York. It was so tender that I secretly wished I had reason to eat/cook lamb more often.
For dessert, we enjoyed a Valrhona Soft Chocolate Sponge with Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream. The presentation confused me a little bit, since I wasn't really sure why the chocolate sponge was laid out on the plate in a squiggle shape, but I got over it. The flavor of the chocolate, paired with the salty caramel popcorn ice cream, made me completely forget about the odd presentation. Unfortunately, I was so full from the previous courses that I could only manage a few bites.
While Fives is closed on Sunday and Monday, the dinner menu is available at the Bar at Fives, which is just across the way from the main restaurant. On the weekends, you can dine on a three-course brunch for $45, which includes champagne. I'm going to have to look into that soon!
Fives at The Peninsula New York
700 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10019
(212) 956-2888 | Online Reservations | Map
Taste As You Go Disclaimer: I was provided with the opportunity to dine at this restaurant at no cost. I do not accept monetary compensation for writing about my experiences. All opinions expressed are my own.
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