I knew I was in for serious trouble when walking back to our cozy, ellipsoidal, tufted leather booth with a bite size bread squarely in my mouth – from the washing station – I ached to skirt a bee-line for seconds of the freshly brick oven baked flatbread pieces. Good thing I didn’t, because Chef David Kolotkin prepared CS, myself and my son, a feast of heavenly scope and perfection… it will take days to walk off and countless years to forget.
The place is the new Prime Grill (25 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019 – 212.692.9292) surrounded with neighbors on par like: Henri Bendel, Gucci, Abercrombie & Fitch, and the Consulate General of Argentina. The venue is elegant, Great Gatsby meets luxury cruise liner enormous, yet sedate and optimally planned to seat all dining scenarios in shades of warm beige to deep teal. Beyond the reception and a welcoming long marble appointed rectangular bar, accented by the most ‘fabulous darling’ huge black crystal chandeliers that made my Hungarian heart sing. There is seating for up to 350 persons; with intimate balcony seating for two or for large private parties. The layout is so well done, it flows unobtrusively at near full capacity with the soft low hum of a well tuned engine. Our meal was nothing short of spectacular! New distinct flavors from the charcuterie board that tasted totally traif; I’ll be adding ‘al chets‘ for the Pepperoni and the Spicy Beef Prosciutto Cotto this Yom Kippur, that served along with thinly sliced Salami, cured Bresaola, and Spicy Smoked Beef Coppa became nothing short of ‘blonde svelt shiksa, you can’t possibly be Jewish’ when condimented with Prime Grill‘s Whole Grain French Mustard & the toasted flatbread. I’ve skipped ahead, sorry, premature palate excitation…
Chef David said: “G-d will forgive me for introducing my people to the real tastes of the world.” We started our meal with three sushi appetizers, all superbly fresh, tasty, well sauced & beautifully served: Prime Grill Roll – with grilled yuzu-miso glazed black cod, cucumber, sesame-teriyaki sauce, topped with tuna & avocado; Fire Dragon Roll, consisting of spicy tuna wrapped in avocado; and a Spicy Tuna on crispy rice served with jalapeno aioli sauce, teriyaki & julienne tri-colored peppers – my personal sushi favorite, it’s that coalesced well blended harmony so reminiscent of Prime Ko‘s similarly named dish. Then it was all mouths on zest deck for a Merlin the Magician’s feast set for kings, queens, knights, and… can this round table get any larger? The Crackling Duck Salad leads the appetizer queue because it too had that artfully fused flavor that is so signature Chef David; duck confit and cracklings, arugula, frisee, tomato, red onion, poached egg and champagne vinaigrette. That champagne vinaigrette tied the flavors together in such a wonderful way – the duck confit was sublime, I do hope the dressing is included in Chef David‘s new cookbook – set to appear on September 15th and available at amazon.com. If not, we’ll try to squeeze Chef David for the recipe. It was a delightful marriage of flavors. Next came the Crispy Veal Sweetbreads – a light tempura based coating served with fennel puree, fennel fronds, enoki mushrooms, cipollini onions & pomegranate port sauce – a tad saliferous as is the tendency with sweetbreads, but lovely and light. The Classic Beef Tartar served over beef carpaccio with citrus-caper vinaigrette, sun dried tomatoes & pistachio baked crostini –was excellent. My intent was to sample lightly; who makes a meal of beef tartar? I couldn’t stop forking it – the fresh robust meat flavor vibrated with the citrusy capers and the pistachio crostini; oh my, I shamelessly kept eating. My son, a basic meat and potatoes kind of guy, recently has been expanding his palate; he couldn’t have been in better culinary hands as he explored Chef David’s taste odyssey taking him around the au couture comestible world in 80 minutes. Literally every single dish & accoutrement of the many consumed, possessed unique noble flavors artfully combined in what I’ll acronym as QTTP (Quality, Taste, Texture and august Presentation). CS tried a new Wood Grilled Veal Chop served with cipolline onions, peppers, vine ripened tomatoes, haricot vert, grilled radish, arugula with that marvelous whole grain mustard vinaigrette. The sliced Prime Grill Filet on garlic toast w/ crispy onions & horseradish sauce drew big yummms from my budding gourmand. Prime Grill‘s beef whether aged, cured, marinaded, reserve or Wagyu are all unrivaled and delectably supreme. Every sauce is well thought out – marrying components so brilliantly executed.
We all three salivated over the Prime Reserve Cut – I was at my happy zenith savoring my slices [cut with their fabulous steak knives], when CS insisted I taint perfection with some Béarnaise Sauce. Again, a shiksa moment of exotic buttery steakiness that was exquisite. We munched on brick oven Bresaola Flatbread seasoned with light bean puree and drizzled with truffle oil, as we reveled in entrees of Long Island Breast of Duck served with the most adorable quarter sized medallions ‘you can’t believe it’s made of quinoa’ pancakes – topped with a cranberry relish that was a lingua zoetic burst of flavor.
CS savored a Veal Chop with peach fritters, porcine mushrooms, infused whipped potatoes & apple brandy sauce; ahhh, King Arthur was reborn – smiling with Guineverian pleasure. Who did have room for dessert? None of us did, but gluttony prevailed after a short interludatory walk. The place was packed with that eclectic mix of clientele that gathers together over the shared commonality of a superlative dining experience. Three spanking new Escalades lined the near exterior with a bevy of well dressed chauffeurs in luxury cars in tow. I was totally out of time and place, enjoying every extravagant moment of gashmiut physicality, knowing I’d have to pay the price for my body stoops to conquer mind jaunt.
But Chef Felenciana‘s desserts were about to be served. I have adored this woman through her cakes and desserts ever since I first met her in person at Sòlo many years back, over a Tiramisu, what an extraordinary talent. I have kept up correspondence with her through the years via her pastries. The latest having been her Hazelnut Roche, of which I’ve had several deliveries through CS from the Prime Baker Butcher shop on 2nd ave. This night too, she did not disappoint. How amazing was the Bourbon and real Vanilla Bean non-dairy ice creams that tasted totally milk real, beside Whipped Cream drizzled with rich chocolate sauce, Chocolate Bread Pudding, Molten Chocolate Cake, and the exquisitely ethereal Tiramisu… nobody does it better! Felenciana – you are the Queen of Sweets. How can I go home again and cook for my family? Saving grace is Chef David himself, if you haven’t met him, he is an unpretentious, soft- spoken tender bubbale, who has every right to be proud of his monumental achievements on a personal and professional level. The Prime Grill Cookbook – Redefining the Kosher Experience, the Chef’s first published effort, co-authored with Joey Allaham - fourth generation butcher extraordinaire and CEO of The Prime Hospitality Group – will be on a shelf near you in September, or at amazon.com. Chef David has kindly chosen around 250 carefully explained recipes that will require some skill and time but not keep you in the kitchen for weeks trying to recreate the Prime Grill experience. I want to personally thank Chef David, our waiter Tony and all the superb servers, as well as the entire Prime Grill family for a delightful evening. A happy and healthy new year to you all! SYR