As I walked up to the door of Delmonico’s I couldn’t help humming the opening theme to Wall-E.
“We’ll see the shows, at Delmonico’s, and we’ll close the town in a whirl!” Turns out, it’s no coincidence, Delmonico’s is the oldest fine dining restaurant in America and has been open since 1837, more than enough time to earn its honorific place in some song lyrics. But we’re not here for nostalgia, we’re here to be fed.
We started the meal with some fresh bread, Big Eye Tuna Tartare and Lobster Bisque. The tuna was fresh and flavorful with a light touch of wasabi and roe intermingled to add variety to the texture. The bread was quality, but somewhat plain in comparison to everything else that was to come. The star of the opening round was the Lobster Bisque for both its flavor and superb presentation. When my bowl arrived, there was no soup, but instead a substantial pile of lobster chucks stacked neat and tall in the center with a dab of caviar at the top. Then, the waiter serves the bisque from a carafe and, in one swift motion, submerses the lobster, leaving only the caviar peak to hint at the mountain below it. It’s like Hawaii, but delicious. The bisque was rich and creamy and the lobster pieces gave substance to the light lobster flavor.
This was followed by Roast Rack of Lamb and a house specialty, the Lobster Newberg. The lobster was visually stunning to say the least.
The tails were lightly butter and half pulled from their shells while the claws were tender and drizzled with a heavier sauce similar to the bisque served earlier. The sautéed side vegetables served in a small tart provided good variety in texture but could have been a stronger counterpoint for the entrée. The ensemble presented a great mix of light and strong flavors and beautifully provides another avenue to eat shellfish in front of clients with class.
While the Lobster Newberg was fine demonstration of Delmonico’s creativity and finesse, it was the simple technical mastery evidenced in the Roast Rack of Lamb that impressed me most.
Compared to the ostentation of the lobster, these three crossed chops seem almost unremarkable in their understated austerity. That is, until you realize, the extra cutlery they’ve brought you is a butter knife. The flavor is excellent, the lentils and peperonata sauce savory, and the paired vegetables a good balance. But it’s the physics defying tenderness of the meat that that will leave you marveling with every bite at the extraordinary mastery of aging and roasting that must have produced this meal.
We finished with the Baked Alaska, originally created to commemorate Steward’s purchase of our coldest state. A light sponge cake, topped with almond ice cream, and encase in a hardened meringue provided a light and not overly sweet send off to our meal.
Delmonico’s main dining room evokes the same kind of dignified 19th century allure that fits a historic steakhouse of its stature. A particularly pleasant feature is the plethora of big picture windows that give the interior a bright, inviting atmosphere in contrast to the borderline somber mood some steakhouses cast.
In all Delmonico’s presented a fantastic experience combining comfortable surroundings, attentive helpful service and above all, marvelous food. The next time you’re planning a professional meal, a 3rd date, or just feel like soaking up a little piece of New York history, Delmonico’s is sure bet.
Delmonico's56 Beaver St
New York, NY 10004