NYC: Degustation for New Year’s Eve Dinner

Happy New Year! Hope you had a chance to ring in the New Year with the ones you love.

I can’t think of a single thing that I’ve eaten in 2014 that deserves to be on the first edition of Foodie Friday more than this amazing Seared Foie Gras and Cauliflower Ice Cream dessert at Degustation. It’s truly something special.

Degustation is a open-counter concept in East Village that serves a fusion of Iberian (Spanish), French and American cuisine. It’s been on the top of my list of places to try, so when we found out they offered a special tasting menu on New Year’s Eve, we had to score a reservation.

(Not partying for New Year’s Eve? I’m really starting to show my age right? Hehe.)

There was a mandatory 8-course tasting menu on New Year’s Eve ($120), but normally you can either choose to order a la carte, or their 7 course tasting menu ($80). The dinner started out a little bit rocky but really picked up after the second course for me.

East Coast Oyster with Hackleback Caviar

Cured Spanish Ham and Pimenton Butter on Foccaccia

The first two dishes, the oyster with caviar and the ham on foccaccia were both misses for me. A bit too much olive oil on the oyster and the caviar didn’t do much for the dish. Our group wished the pepper flavor for the pimenton butter was stronger, and the meat to bread ratio on the foccaccia was just a bit too much. But I think this is where our complaints about the dinner ends.

Burrata with Chives, Puffed Quinoa and Chinese Oregano

The burrata was served with puffed quinoa which really gave it that extra crunch. I personally loved the cheese with the herbs as it helped bring some brightness to the overall rich flavor of the cheese. Still not too sure what chinese oregano is, but I liked it!

Brussels Sprouts with Lobster, Cashews, Aged Apple Vinegar topped with Crushed Funyons

This next brussels sprouts dish was one of my favorites. I think this is normally served on their regular menu without the lobster, but I can’t imagine it without. Everything just worked together so well in the dish, including the crushed funyons. I will have to try this myself at home – topping off brussels sprouts with funyons!

Maine Diver Scallop with Thai Red Curry, Cracked Potatoes, Citron

The Thai Red Curry here really packed a punch, J who isn’t as into spicy foods as I am noted how hot the dish was, but I loved it that much more. The scallops were perfectly cooked and I especially enjoyed wiping up all the sauce with my fried potato.

Ricotta Agnolotti with Uni, Crisp Sage and a Riesling Froth

Who would have thought that the richness briney flavor of uni can help offset some of the creaminess of ricotta. I wish the agnolotti itself were in smaller bites, but I could have eaten 10 of these.

Beef with Celery Root Puree, Roasted Sunchokes and Chestnuts

I usually prefer the cook on my steak a bit more medium rare, so the beef was a bit chewy for me, which was unfortunate, but still delicious. Really wish I could figure out how to turn my celery root into that puree! My guess is that it involves a lot of butter.

Goat Butter

Not sure why we got our bread course pretty late, but this goat butter is exceptional. If it wasn’t so fatty, I would have wanted to eat the entire chunk of it. This was pretty late in the game though, so I limited my consumption of this awesome butter. Wish I had some right now…

Roasted Foie Gras with Cauliflower Ice Cream, Marcona Almonds and Nasturtium

Finally, the part that we’ve all been waiting for. The Roasted Foie Gras dessert! When I think of this dish, I just am wondering when I will go back to Degustation to order it. Luckily it is a part of the regular menu (though slightly pricey at $21 for the dish).

The feeling I got eating this dish was confused happiness. The seared hot fatty foie gras played off the cold and creamy ice cream beautifully. You don’t see meat on dessert everyday, but the foie gras really works since it’s so rich. The shaved almonds on the dish helped coat the ice cream so that it wasn’t always icy cold next to the hot foie gras. It was pure bliss at every bite.

Spanish Torrija made with Goat’s Milk Dulce de Leche and Sea Salt

The final dish of the night was this Spanish Torrija which had the texture of firm tofu, but chewier like a bread pudding. It was seared off to give it an extra crunch with some caramel sauce. It was good, but let’s be honest, I was still thinking about the previous dish. 😉
Degustation is definitely one of the lesser talked about restaurants in NYC, but after our dining experience here, it’s one that I will definitely tell more people about. Well, it did make it on this Business Insider’s list of “Top Food Critics Say These Are The 20 Best Restaurants In America” for a reason.

Besides the delicious innovative dishes here, the staff here was also great and welcoming. Jack, our sommelier helped solidify our overall positive experience. While helping us pick through their wine list, he recommended the Semillion-Sauvignon Blanc from Stratus 2009 that we really liked. It was a blend of whites that really left an impression with us – so much that we’re seeking it out and buying more bottles! I’ve never seen anyone work to decant a bottle of white as he did, but he explained that the younger wines are the ones who really needs decanting to open up some of the flavors.

He took his job seriously, but in a non-douchey way. He really made our experience as we chatted through the night. Edit: after some quick internet stalking from my friend Taurin, turns out Jack Lamb is the restauranteur who opened Degustation. Seriously, we just loved him and his crazy hair.
All in all, Chef Nicholas Licata and his team put out an amazing dinner for us for New Year’s Eve. Dining here really gave us even more appreciation for how hard chefs have to work (working through all holiday evenings while enjoying themselves for putting out great food…). The open kitchen concept made it even more enjoyable for a “foodie” evening out to celebrate.

Definitely put Degustation on a top list of places to enjoy with a small group of friends or on a date night for food lovers!

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