DBGB Kitchen & Bar ~ part deux

Fork, Knife & Spoon try to make every adventure a new adventure, but some adventures truly bear repeating. Such is the case with DBGB Kitchen & Bar, one of the fabulous restaurants in the empire that is Daniel Boulud. Fortunately for Fork and Spoon our dear friend Cheese Plane had never sampled the wonders that is DBGB and wondered if we would mind a repeat performance. Mind? Surely, you jest!

We made a 5:30 reservation and arrived to a full bar, full seating in the bar area, and an empty restaurant. We were shown to one of the banquets tucked against the wall. Very spacious and private, hidden away from and free from foot traffic passing by.  The earlier you arrive for dinner the better. As the night went on the restaurant became packed with people waiting for tables.

The advantage of this repeat adventure was that now we were cutlery three! The possibilities for ordering and trying new dishes was endless! But being at DBGB and not ordering the Iceberg & Blue salad is impossible. Again, months later than the last visit, we were served a huge horizontal cut of iceberg lettuce  slathered in blue cheese dressing with huge bits of blue cheese, crispy bacon, slices of celery, halves of cherry tomatoes, crispy shallots. We wonder how many slices the chef is able to get out of one head of iceberg lettuce, and what happens to the smaller bits that can’t be used for this wonderful salad. Truth be told, this slice is better and easy to eat than a wedge and all the glorious bits on top are really in every bite. The wonderful herbs on top, chervil, tarragon something else we couldn’t quite distinguish, just add more flavor to every perfect bit. You just can’t stop eating this and find yourself sad when it’s all eaten. But wait! We ordered so much more!

We also ordered the Pate Campagnard. Very generous slice of rich, delicious rustic pate. Flecks of herbs and potato peeking out through delicious bits of pork – a pate lovers dream. The pate is served with a delicate little salad of frisee and microgreens, Fork’s favorite pate accompaniment, cornichon and tiny pickled onions. A nice chunk of wheat bread and you are all set for a palate awakening treat! The pate is made onsite – one of the things that DBGB is known for, their pates and charcuterie.

Along with these two wonderful dishes we also ordered also Red Curry Mussels.  What arrived was a large white bowl piled high with mussels, although, honestly, you couldn’t see the mussels for the forest of herbs.  Really an unecessary amount of foliage, but once you bushwhacked your way through the basil and cilantro and other herbage, the dish was amazing. Plump, super fresh, not a sign of grit anywhere, mussels bathing in the most amazing broth. The broth was buttery and rich, sweet from coconut milk, and just as you gave way to this luscious sweet broth, the heat kicks you in the back of your throat and you can only say WOW! Even Spoon, who is not a fish fan, found this broth intoxicating.  We wanted more broth, more bread, and to sit greedily and make sure not a drop was left.

But there was so much more to come!

Cheese Plane ordered the sautéed Skate with cauliflower, risotto, pinenuts and in a saffron brown butter sauce. The dish was presented beautifully. Skate’s natural shape lends itself to a beautiful presentation. Cheese Plane was so looking forward to this dish, having read about online, knowing this was the perfect thing to be ordered. Sadly, the first bite left a mouthful of saltiness. We called over our amazing waiter, Andrew – more on him later – and Cheese Plane sadly explained that the skate was way too salty, quickly followed by this is the dish I want to eat, I just need it to be less salty. The dish disappeared and what seemed like moments later reappeared and was terrific. The cauliflower and risotto were a nice mild accompaniment to the brown butter sauce the skate was sautéed in. Skate is a very mild, moist fish that isn’t too popular but really should be. If you are out to dinner and have the opportunity to order this fish, please do, you will be very happy with your choice.

Fork and Spoon both ordered Steak Frites. A beautiful 10 oz. angus ribeye seasoned and grilled to perfect. One of the nice things about DBGB is rare means rare. Medium means medium. How is it possible that a restaurant has the nerve to say well, our medium is more like rare – doesn’t that mean it’s RARE!? But, Fork disgresses. Sitting on top of the steak was a round pat of compound butter that was just starting to melt when the steaks arrived at the table.  As it melted pink, black and green peppercorns spread across the top of the steak along with rich butter leaving you with a steak that skyrocketed in flavor. The fries were and are always amazing. Hand cut fries, crispy, still tender on the inside and with just the right amount of salt. Accompanying the steak frites was a small lollo rosso salad.  Lollo rosso is a leafy type of lettuce, it has a lot of crunch and a nutty flavor.

Oh, dessert! Dessert must be had, and these desserts were all must haves.

Fork ordered the Meyer Lemon Tart. The cutlery have a love/hate relationship with meyer lemons.  Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and a tangerine. It doesn’t have a totally tart flavor. It’s sort of a tangerine flavor with a lemon undertone. The tart is served with candied meyer lemon zest,  dots of a silky milk mousse and a scoop of pomegranate sorbet. The tart shell was buttery and crisp and lent itself perfectly to the layers of flavor from the filling. There appears to be two layers on top of the crust. Both layers are have the flavor of the meyer lemons. One layer is creamy with a light meyer lemon essence to it. The other layer is more of a meyer lemon curd. Milk mousse had us very curious and perhaps slightly apprehensive.  It has the texture of a thick mousse and really tastes like milk. While this is a foil against the tartness of the tart, if the curd or lemon custard were more tart, the milk mousse would have fit in better with it. The candied meyer lemon peel was interesting. Again, meyer lemons are not tart, but more on the sweet side, so the candied peel really had no pop to it. The scoop of pomegranate sorbet was amazing. Very tart while still being sweet. The scoop sat in a little pile of cookie crumbs to keep it sitting upright and to not slide around on the plate . And in keeping with the beautiful presentations of each and every morsel of food that comes out of the DBGB kitchen, there were beautiful little pomegranate seeds scattered over the plate.

Spoon ordered the Gateau Russe aux Chataignes. Perfect. That may the only description available or necessary.  It was rich and dense, while still being light, sweet but not overly so. The on each side of the base of this lovely dessert were two slices of a very moist gateau – very close to a genoise. Sandwiched between the gateau was a thick chestnut mousse. The flavor was amazing and could have stood alone, but there was more! Down the center of the top were amazing black currants in black currant sauce – tart, sweet and perfect with the dense richness of the chestnut mousse beneath it and sandwiched between the gateau. On either side of the black currant stripe was sweet chestnut paste that resembled angel hair pasta – perhaps it was put through a ricer or even a pasta machine. As if this beautiful dessert needed another detail to be completely perfect, right in the center of the black currant sauce was nestled a single candied chestnut enrobed in edible gold leaf. A little black currant coulis in pools on the plate around the gateau and you have entered into dessert perfection.  While taste is always paramount, the visual of everything placed before you is so appetizing that you can’t wait to dive into it.

What else could a Cheese Plane possibly order for dessert except an assortment of cheeses. The cheeses are presented on a small wooden cutting board and each piece of cheese is a generous slice for one person. There is an assortment of 5 cheeses and you can request either 3 or 5 cheeses. Cheese plane chose the Tilsiter, which is a raw cow cheese from the Vorarlburg area of Austria (Tilsiter is a semi-hard cheese with a delicate, almost fruity taste with a spicy undertone to it); a Cyrus Grove Humbolt Fog (Humbolt Fog is a creamy goat cheese with a slight tangy flavor. There is an interesting ribbon of vegetable ash through its center), which is a goat cheese from McKinleyville, CA; and a Brie de Meaux from Ile de France (Brie de Meaux has a slight sweetness to it that only a cheese of this caliber could possibly have).  Along with the cheese were 3 different types of bread, a raisin wheat bread, a light wheat bread and a dark wheat bread. By the way, if it has not been mentioned previously, the bread at DBGB is out of this world. Crusty, airy, delicious, unending, with soft butter that has salt sprinkled over the top. nuts bread. And just to add some extra crunch and delight to this dessert, there is a sprinkling of pistachios, walnuts, marcona almonds, and hazelnuts around the cheeseboard. Delightful!

Now, back to our waiter. Andrew. He was amazing. He was so knowledgable about the menu. He was able to answer each and every query without hesitation. Every need was met, above and beyond what you would expect. His knowledge of the DBGB wine list was outstanding. He was able to suggest different wines, and have an intelligent conversation about the taste and quality of each wine and the pairing we intended it for. Any wine that we were unsure of was brought over for a tasting.  There was no sense of impatience with how long we lingered at our table. Andrew, if you read this, thank you for making us feel welcome, special and catered to.

DBGB is located at 299 Broadway – on the Bowery between Houston and 1st Street. Reservations can be made through Open Table or through the restaurant itself 212.933.5300.
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