Saturday, February 23, 2008


Remember how I had a dream that we missed our Ardour reservation and all they could offer us was a cheese sandwich?

When we turned up last night, we found our reservation had been cancelled.

Oh, it all turned out okay; I think my look of horror must have been enough to convince them it was a terrible mistake, and they were lovely and apologetic. But still--spooky, no?

And remember how I'd expressed concern that the
website's bad design was a reflection on the restaurant itself?

Completely unfounded. Every detail was perfect.

Let's start with the room, all high silver ceilings and tall wine cabinets, the whole thing enshrouded in frosted glass walls engraved with leaves and vines--warmth and light, with just a hint of sleek cool. The chairs have wooden platforms that slide out from under the seat. Why? So your purse has a little place to rest, of course--no dumping it at your feet in this place!

The service was friendly, unpretentious, accessible; the wine list included unexpected selections from Spain and Greece; the food ...

Oh, the food ...

I started with the foie gras and tapioca ravioli with a truffle foam; the pasta was like melty-in-the-mouth soft pillows stuffed with dark, complex pâté.

The Boy went for sweetbreads, served with a single, perfectly poached, strangely molded egg:

Extra points for providing an insanely light brioche to mop up the yolk.

Thence to the entrees: for The Boy, duck breast with roasted shallots and a creamy, buttery polenta:

Note to self: start roasting shallots at home. Immediately.

I went for the pork, mainly because the dish included boudin noir, at which they had me:

To the left of the three thick slices of moist pork: a baked lady-apple. To the right: a square of pork belly, with sweet fat that dissolves on the tongue. Above: the most insanely delicious boudin noir I've ever tasted. Not too peppery, though still with a deep bloodiness, but most remarkable was the texture: light, airy, as though whipped until fluffy.

We decided to skip the cheese course, lovely though it sounded, and go straight to dessert. It was a tough decision, but we settled on the pear clafoutis with honey-lavender ice-cream. It was an unusual take on the
traditional fruit-and-batter pudding:

Here, actually, was the only thing that didn't quite work; the ice-cream had a strange, almost musty flavor. Maybe honey wasn't the best addition (lavender on its own would have been nicer).

The chocolates and meringue cookies were complementary; they were also lovingly made (the former intense and complex; the latter light and decadent at the same time).

So my fears about missed meals and dismissive detailing were unfounded by a long shot. We'd go back in a heartbeat, though I suspect tables will quickly become harder to come by; we were lucky to snag a 5:30 slot on a Friday.

On our way out, the maitre d' apologized for the cancellation mix-up again, and we chatted briefly about how Adour has been doing in its first month. He mentioned that it's an attempt to broaden the Ducasse brand to a younger, hipper clientele, which explains the coolness of the room (as well as the bar with iPhone-like menus embedded in the counter and the just-louder-than-necessary techno-jazz-lounge Muzak).

It will be interesting to see how Adour does on that front; our fellow diners were mostly moneyed-casual and older than us. And most definitely unlikely to end the evening as we did: at a hipster bar on the Lower East Side, cheering on my friend J's band
Rotary Club and staying on for the next act, Gram Rabbit, a grunge-electronic-disco act fronted by a singer who channeled Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks and Siouxsie Sioux.

What a way to end the night.

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