The John Dory for Dinner

24 Feb

On Saturday night, my dad and I ventured into Chelsea to eat at The John Dory, April Bloomfield’s new seafood restaurant. As it turned out, it is located right behind the Chelsea Market (one of my havens), and is between Craftsteak and Del Posto; across from Morimoto. Talk about a block on restaurant ‘roids.

Unfortunately, we arrived fifteen minutes earlier than dinner service, but I thought we could wait at the bar, which opens at five. Apparently not, however, because upon entrance, a stony hostess turned us back into the cold. No matter; we ventured through the Italian section of Chelsea Market before returning at the right time.

Still, the staff was attentive for the whole of the meal, even if our waiter was strangely awkward and a tad arrogant.

Our meal was very enjoyable, and because we couldn’t get a reservation, we sat at the Oyster Bar, which has the full menu. Because I was so taken with the appetizer menu, I didn’t even order a main, instead going with three apps.

While my dad began with the chilled lobster tail and lemon aioli, I had the uni with blood orange. While both were presented nicely, my uni seemed less intense than it should have. It was a clean flavor, although the orange was subtle, but the ocean’s brininess was lacking a bit. My dad’s lobster was good, but it was a task for him to crack it from its half shell without spraying the chef in front of us or our neighboring diners. Luckily, even though this course did not wow me, I wasn’t entirely disappointed by it.

Next, my dad ordered the whole roasted sea bream with a rosemary-anchovy butter, and I had both the oyster pan roast with sea urchin butter toast and the seared monkfish liver with capers, lemon, and parsely. I thought that my dad’s dish was technically well executed—it had to be, as the fish is served unadorned. Still, the lack of accompaniments allowed the fish to shine. My dishes were ethereal, and they actually complimented each other well.

The oyster pan roast turned out to be a a rich and subtly spicy cream soup with four plump, tender oysters within. It came with a thin baguette toast with subtly briny slices of sea urchin butter atop. I enjoyed spooning out the juicy, cream-soaked oysters out of the soup and eating them on the toast. The whole dish was well balanced and kept the origen of its components-the sea-in mind.

On a lighter note (just kidding), my seared monkfish liver was equally phenomenal. The lemon supreme and capers packed a punch that cut the unctuousness of the liver. The hard sear gave the liver a nice crust, and having been a monkfish liver virgin myself, I was impressed with its likeness to foie gras in texture combined with its oceanic taste. A new offal experience is always a welcome one for me.

As an aside, I should mention that the bread was also good, which was a selection of whole grain baguette, raisin pumpernickel, and parkerhouse rolls. I tried the baguette and pumpernickel, both of which were very good.

When it came time to choose a dessert, neither my father nor i could rise to the occasion; we were both very full of the delights already consumed. Nevertheless, we were bid goodnight with some mignardise—a chocolate hazelnut truffle and a smokey passionfruit caramel.

I foresee a return to The John Dory; its offerings are a bit more intriguing than many seafood restaurants. In addition, although I enjoyed watching the cooking going on at the Oyster Bar, I would enjoy sitting at a table with a bit more elbow room the next time I go. I applaud chef Bloomfield for her creative venture, as it seems to be rendering success.

Oyster Pan Roastoyster pan roast

Monkfish livermonkfish liver

Sea Urchin with  Blood Orangeuni with blood orange

Arctic Char pate with Parsnip chipsarctic char pate with parsnip chips

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