“It looks like a Dr. Seuss village of vegetables!” That was how our dining companion reacted to the first of the seven courses featured in our “Menu Decouverte” at Chef de Cuisine Kirk Westaway’s elegant restaurant perched on the 70th floor. And what an apt description it was. The course was called “forgotten vegetables” and featured miniature museum-quality displays of glistening greens, raw reds and wondrous puffy white foam buttons—we were definitely not in Kansas anymore. The tastes were equally Seuss-like, delivering beet when our mouths were expecting tomato, and surprising touches with big garden flavors from even the tiniest tufts, cubes and pyramids. The flash-grilled tuna belly arrived dusted with aromatic charcoal powder and sat atop a pinky-sized potato stuffed with an aubergine mash. In typical fashion, Chiang (who famously plates everything himself) also added a few tiny toro jelly cubes to the plate. Although it sounds like a mouthful, our first, erm, mouthful (in which we combined all the elements) was wonderful—a blissful blend of land and sea. Probably the biggest wow of the night (aside from the pop rocks—we’ll explain later) was the “pre-sale” lamb. This refers to lamb that has been fed on salty marsh grasses near Mont St. Michel in northern France. The slice served was tender, succulent and delicately meaty. Of course there were twists, and one came in the form of a wild rice carbonara—puffed rice sprinkled over a creamy, bacon-infused ricotta. Along with the liquefied sweet peas on the plate, it was a novel take on the classic peas, bacon and cheese pasta dish. But you’re not paying attention any more are you? You’re thinking about the pop rocks. OK, but first the pre-dessert: A thin flute of grapefruit sorbet topped with campari foam—the perfect splash of puckery citrus to get the mouth ready for dessert which, by the way, was an improbably dense disc of chocolate ganache topped by a dollop of milk sorbet (oh, what cream can become!). OK, and now for the pop rocks. They were orange-flavored and arrived embedded in a wafer of dark chocolate along with three other petit fours including a frozen white chocolate lollipop with an earl-grey-infused strawberry center. It was a fittingly fun end to a meal infused with art, whimsy and clear mastery of textures, portions and flavors. The fab food even upstaged the stunning skyline view. Service was spot on, too.
Since this review was written, Andre Chiang has left JAAN