Written by Hulda Lawrence
We began our lunch with a Cosmopolitan for me and a Negroni for my companion. A basket of warm rolls was brought and soon after we had tastes of several appetizers. We enjoyed a delicious Veloute, a saffron infused butternut squash soup with Alaskan king crab and grilled pignolas. Sliced yellowfin tuna and green apple mille feuille with yuzu juice and kaffir lime ficelle and mackerel in a thin crust pissaladiere with mustard syrup, sweet onion and mild anchovy fondue are two other fine "Starters." Chef Tovar is complete in his descriptions and his food is top drawer.
Other appetizers include Carpaccio of grapefruit-marinated fluke; Foie Gras duck leg confit and black trumpet terrine, quince and ginger along with several salads; Heirloom of Baby Beets, fresh figs, heirloom tomatoes; and a Frisee of arugula, warm quail eggs and other delights. Appetizer prices are $11 to $18.
With our lunch we had glasses of Toasted Head Chardonnay '02 Russian River for my companion and Calera Pinot Hori '00 Central Coast for me. A large list of wines by the glass is available, with prices from $7 for a Cote du Rhone to $16 for Clos du Wal Cabernet'01, Napa Valley. Moet & Chandon Brut is $17.
Our server, Gary from Oklahoma, was most helpful and described dishes for us although there is considerable detail on the printed menu. Our entrees were Cumin Marinated Salmon Sirloin with spinach, fennel and cucumber salad with salmon roe and basil sauce; and a Tajine of Spiced Beef "Toro" with mango chutney and almonds lemongrass scented basmati rice. This was a splendid presentation and wonderful to eat.
Entrées not to be overlooked are Red Snapper grilled with garlic mashed potatoes, pea puree, clams and mussels; Rib Eye Steak with Riesling braised short ribs; Fusilli with Mediterranean vegetables and basil pesto; Bouillabaisse of Yellowtail Snapper, clams and lobster stew, salsify and baby leeks; slow roasted Monkfish; Duck Breast with pistachio stuffed baked fig; Roasted Chicken with Country Sausage; New Zealand roasted loin of Venison and Slow Roasted Pork. Entree prices are $16 to $36.
Salads and sandwiches include Poached Maine Lobster with Spring Vegetable Salad; Tuna Steak Nicoise; Grilled Chicken Breast with eggplant and tomato caviar; Butterflied Shrimps with red and green pepper salad; Hamburger with caramelized onion rings and Panini of Braised Lamb Shank Moussaka, pancetta and other tasty ingredients. Salads and sandwiches are $15 to $22.
With its emphasis on the Mediterranean area, there is a changing tour and the one available when we visited was Lebanon. The three courses, at a set price of $29 begins with Marinated Eggplant with Humus and flatbread or Parsley and Mint Couscous Salad or Lentil and Spinach Soup. Then comes Orange Baked Duck Leg with Israeli Couscous or Grilled Lamb Sandwich or Cod, tomato and chickpea stew. Desserts are Milk Pudding with Honey or Date Filled Pastries with walnut Ice Cream.
When our desserts arrived they were an extraordinary group of confections made by Pastry Chef Nancy Olson. We loved the Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Walnut Thyme Ice Cream, the Raspberry Chocolate Bread Pudding with Apricot Mascarpone Sherbet, and the White Chocolate Tropical Fruit Charlotte with Kiwi Sorbet. Other sweets are Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter Crunch and Caramel Swirl Ice Cream, Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Concord Grape Sorbet, "Hot Tamale" Poached Lady Apple with Granny Smith Apple Sorbet, and Plum Streusel with Plum Ginger Sherbet. For $10 a tasting platter of all sorbets and ice creams (Cranberry Pear, Honeydew Mint, Blueberry Ginger, Pumpkin Pie, Coffee Toffee and Grand Marnier Truffle) is available. Desserts are $8 to $10 with a selection of cheeses at $16.
If desserts are not your thing, there are a number of Icy Dessert Cocktails; Orange Crush, Pina Colada, Cape Codder with cranberries and vodka, Sake Slush, Blueberry Lemonade, Chocolate Covered Cherry, Kalamansi Cooler and Cinnamon Apple. You can have a tasting of all eight for $16.
Fancy pre-dinner cocktails include Djangito, lemongrass margarita with Capt Morgan and Grand Marnier, Creamsicle of Absolut Mandarin and Absolut Vanilla with Orange Juice, and Apple Twist with Smirnoff Green Apple Martini and Classic Bellini. These cocktails are $12 each.
In the evening there is a prix fixe consisting of three courses for $35.
Hours: Monday through Friday lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
At 17 East 32nd Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues is a fairly new Korean restaurant, Don's Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar (212) 683-2200. Created by Kyung Rim Choi, who has bakeries and restaurants in his portfolio, the emphasis here is on barbequing at the table on individual grills. A number of side dishes add to the flavors. The restaurant's name is taken from a guidebook to cooking BBQ pork, written back in 1613 by Dr. Huh Jun with recipes on how to cure what ails one.
At luncheon the other day, we entered this very modern layout with plenty of stainless steel and glass to achieve a high tech, industrial look. The tables are typically Korean, and it is not easy to navigate one's legs beneath them.
With the emphasis on wines, we began with glasses of Riefle Chassique Riesling 2001 from Alsace, France for my companion and Pepperwood Grove Merlot 2001 from Napa Valley, California for me. These are fine wines and there are also at least 50 reds and a large number of whites as well as different sakes, sparkling wines and pink wines from which to choose; it takes time to pick exactly the right one.
At each place, a serving plate is set along with chopsticks and a spatula-shaped utensil. On request, forks are brought.
We began our meal with Japchae of clear glass noodles, stir-fried with beef and mixed vegetables and Hae Mool Pajune scallion pancake with seafood. The pancake was accompanied by a tasty sauce.
As we perused the menu to decide what next to order for grilling, a parade of side dishes began to arrive. Mixed salad was brought and then small dishes of kimchi, cucumber salad, broccoli florets, mushroom salad and a fried beef pancake.
For our BBQ selections, we chose Yang Yeom Galbi, marinated boneless beef ribs of high quality beef; and Cabernet Three-layers Pork, aged in a special wine. Several sauces were accompaniments. Our waiter, Young, skillfully cooked both dishes and we especially enjoyed the beef.
Sauces and side dishes change daily, but each adds considerably to the whole experience. Other BBQ dishes include a Vegetarian Mushroom platter; BBQ Chicken; Grilled Beef Brisket; Marinated Shrimps; Beef Tongue; Beef Cube Roll Steak; Grilled Pork, Octopus and Vegetables in a sweet spicy sauce; combination seafood platter; and a combination of Sirloin, Short Rib and Outskirt. The grill entrees are $15 to $39 for the seafood combination.
There is a BBQ lunch of either Marinated Short Ribs, Beef Rib Eye or Chicken served with rice and soup for $10.
Appetizers include Vegetarian Spring Roll, Steak Tartar or steamed or fried dumplings filled with beef and vegetable. There are stews of bean curd with mixed seafood in spicy broth; bean paste stew with bean curd vegetables and pork; and kimchi stew with pork, tofu and scallion. $5 to $11.
Hot Stone Pot specialties include tuna with steamed rice; mixed seafood with steamed rice, tofu, mushrooms and vegetables with steamed rice. These hot stone pot dishes are $11.
At the conclusion of our lunch a glass of a cinnamon flavored drink was brought.
I have used English words rather than the Korean names so that diners can know the ingredients and methods of preparation of the dishes. It is a rather different experience, but it is very interesting to sample this cuisine.
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight daily
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.