Utterly Delicious Daniel

Daniel is one of those restaurants I always dreamed of going to. Nestled on the Upper East Side with its three star rating from Michelin and four stars from the New York Times, it’s easy to see why anyone would want to go. So imagine my excitement when Mr. T tells me out of nowhere on Wednesday that he made us reservations for Friday night! We’ve both been a little stressed out lately with tons of work and just life in general so he thought we needed a little treat. This is my kind of treat for sure!

Friday we met up after work and got all gussied up at home. I love the fact Daniel still requires a jacket for men. It makes the experience so much more special for some reason. After a warm greeting at the door we were seated at a wonderful table overlooking the sunken main dining room. I loved being able to see all of the action going on below and the beautiful artwork throughout the restaurant.

Upon opening the wine list I was surprised and excited to see many wonderful selections in a reasonable price range. We decided to start off with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and then the amuse bouche arrived.

Today’s amuse was a trio of beets. On the right was a yellow beet with a spicy horseradish sauce, the middle was beet soup with a prosciutto wrapped breadstick and on the end was…something else. I can’t really remember because I was in love with the beet soup. It was thick, almost like the beets had simply been pureed with a little bit of cream. Just lovely- a wonderful way to start the meal.

After our palates were enticed the bread basket was brought around with 5 different kinds of bread. My choices for the day were a garlic asiago focaccia and a black olive roll.

Look at the inside of the focaccia- whole pieces of roasted garlic! No skimping on the bread basket here that’s for sure. For appetizers I ordered the Hazelnut and Chorizo Crusted Maine Sea Scallops with stewed gnocchi, corn fricassee and nasturtium salad.

Oh my god I truly do not think I can even begin to convey how delicious this dish was. I took one bite and my eyes started to roll back into my head. The scallops were enormous first of all and had a wonderful salty spicy coating from the nuts and chorizo that was cooled down by the velvety corn fricassee underneath. I honestly think this is the best scallop dish I have ever had in my life.

I was so in love with my dish I almost didn’t try Mr. T’s but I’m so happy I did. He ordered a special that night- a Duo of Frogs Legs Provencal style. The legs were done two ways- one fried like a tiny drumstick on the bone and one grilled with some oil, olives, tomatoes and a ton of other veggies. This dish was also amazing. I seriously didn’t think anything could taste better than my scallops but the frog legs were right up there. Again the blend of ingredients were so varied but they just worked. The meat from the frog was incredibly tender, melty almost, like foie gras but instead of a creamy rich texture the taste was vibrant and light. On the side was some kind of berries that basically ended up being cooked risotto style.

After our appetizers I was already so happy. They both truly blew me away. I couldn’t wait for the main course! Mr. T ordered the Duo of Beef Black Angus Short Ribs with Young Spinach, Mozzarella-Bresalo Salad, Wagyu Tenderloin, Stuffed Tomato with Basil, Black Garlic Pommes Dauphine, Sauce Choron.

This was a $16 supplement to the regular menu, and while I’m not sure it garnered that much extra it was certainly a fabulous dish. The Short Rib was simply delectable with rich smoky layers of fatty beef and the Wagyu Tenderloin was a perfectly moist specimen of meat with big bold flavors from the black garlic and basil.

My entrée of the night was the Black Sea Bass with Syrah Sauce leek potato parmentier roasted and tempura celery. Ses Bass is a fairly mild fish but has a thick firm texture more like a steak. The syrah sauce was wonderful and I've never had a sea bass where it was cooked so well that it was firm outside yet insanely juicy inside.

The side items I really did not enjoy at all. I’ll be honest I had no idea what a parmentier was before this. Look it up on Wikipedia if you want but the basic description they gave there likens it to a French man’s Sheppard’s pie. I don’t like Sheppard’s pie- never have never will- there’s really no rhyme or reason why. I like all of the ingredients just not mashed together. Luckily that didn’t even matter because I was stuffed from the scallops and what was about to come next was just down right naughty.

For dessert (after much contemplation and a gentle nudging from the waiter) I chose the Gianduja Sable with Nyangbo Chocolate puffed rice and hazelnut ice cream. It really doesn’t get much better than this let me tell you. First of all it looks like it just came out of a museum rather than a kitchen- talk about presentation. Then the taste. It was a chocolate nut fantasy come true. I can’t even begin to describe how the decadent chocolate cake played off the textures of the cold creamy ice cream and crunchy puffs of rice. It was gone in about 2 minutes flat- no lie.

Mr. T ordered the signature Daniel dessert Warm Guanaja Chocolate Coulant with liquid caramel, fleur de sel and milk sorbet. I had my doubts about this dish. I’ve easily had hundreds of warm molten chocolate cakes in my life- how could this be any different.

Shame on me for even questioning Daniel. The liquid caramel center literally silked it’s way out of the wickedly rich chocolate cake and had just a touch of fleur de sel to bring my salty sweet taste buds to a standing salute. I don't like to call desserts luxurious but it truly was.

We were both beyond full at this point but then came more! First a tray of petite fours with an awesome mini macaroon. Then a pot of Madeline’s accompanied our espressos to the table.

Only to be followed by a tray of chocolates for the end. This was absolutely ridiculous and I loved each and every second of it.

Onto the last aspect of our meal the service. It was beyond superb. Every dish we ordered was actually a recommendation from our fabulous waiter who really took the time to learn about our likes and dislikes as far as flavors and textures go. It was also one of the least intrusive staff I’ve seen at this caliber of establishment. My water glass was always filled, wine poured, table cleaned, etc. but I never felt like anyone was watching me or that it was overly excessive.

I would seriously rank Daniel in my top five list of all time right now. It was so impeccable I feel like the luckiest girl in the world for having a chance to experience it.



I tried Daniel last weekend for the first time too -- I did the sea bass too and scallops too; I was so happy with my first course that I was actually okay in being somewhat disappointed by my second course. I did the fig dessert though - fantastic!