14 January 2008


Carlton Hotel
90 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016


What continually impresses us about dining in Manhattan is going to a place that we know about but have not previously dined at for one reason or another, and then being blown away with the place on out first visit. These "why on earth have we not dinned here earlier?" shocks are always a pleasant surprise.

As we live in Midtown, we have frequently dined and enjoyed the cuisine of Geoffrey Zakarian's Town restaurant inside the Chambers Hotel. But we made our first visit to the sister restaurant Country at the Carlton Hotel in Gramercy only recently, and we were wowed.

First the elegance of the hotel, the bustling casual Cafe at Country on the lower level and then the refined elegance of Country on the second level. The David Rockwell designed space exudes refinement and a sophisticated elegance of dining at a fine house in England, France or perhaps dining in an earlier day in New York City.

Professional staff at every position provides the fine dining experience one expects at such an establishment. The Michelin one star is well deserved and an additional star (or two) is warranted.

The menu is composed of fixed price choices. In mid-winter it was a black truffle tasting menu and the ever changing Prix Fixed four course daily menus. We chose the four course menu and found we had ample options such that we selected different dishes for each course. Additionally the chef provided demi-tastings throughout the meal resulting in two eight course meals.

The ingredients and preparations were outstanding, providing bridges between classic French, Modern French and Contemporary American cuisines. The kitchen appears equally talented in the preparation of both meats and seafood. Of the eight selected course only one was less than outstanding, and upon notice of my lack of interest is a strangely soupy cod dish, the head waiter offered to immediately replace the course, and the resulting dish of veal confit and veal sweetbreads was a top notch dish.

The wine list was extensive with both European and New World wines. Given we had selected more seafood than red meats; we went with a 2004 Rully white burgundy that was excellent and reasonably priced. Wine service was knowledgeable, prompt, and overall excellent.

While one expects outstanding dining at well known places such as Daniel, Jean-George, Four Seasons, etc, it is a pleasant surprise to find equally outstanding food, wine, service and ambiance at a relatively under-promoted place such as Country. We are already planning our return.

Country - Highly recommended

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