Solo Lunch at Tocqueville

I have my Mexico post all ready to go but I really want to use my photographers pics because they're awesome but I haven't gotten them all yet so I'll come back to that post. We flew back from Mexico Tuesday night and then spent Wednesday basically at home recovering. I thought I would be excited to get back into city mode but after an espresso at Eataly I just felt like coming home and doing nothing. I woke up on Thursday so incredibly tired and with some serious stomach pains so I called in sick. After going back to sleep for a few hours I woke up and surprisingly felt better. Maybe it was just the thought of work that was bringing me down. I had cancelled a fancy lunch the day before and decided to reschedule it. So right around 1:00 I walked down to Union Square for my reservation at Tocqueville.

I’ve always heard great things about this restaurant and walking inside I was immediately struck by the room. The high ceilings and small bright room was extremely calm and comforting. There were only three other tables filed, all with women, and I got a seat right in the middle. My very French and somewhat stiff waiter handed me the lunch menu that offered a $29 three course prix fix as well as a la carte. The prix fix looked splendid so I chose that but opted out of the wine pairings. Instead I ordered a glass of Riesling and took a much warmer approach to my stiff waiter after an extremely generous pour.

They started me out with a fragment piece of Olive Rosemary Bread and some butter. Unfortunately the smell would be the best part of this start since the butter was hard and the bread was so oily it actually dripped a bit when I bite in.

Luckily the amuse bouche of Potato Pancake, mushroom confit and crème fraiche made up for the bread. I’m not sure I’ve ever had mushroom confit before but I’m a big fan. Usually the mushroom is the support to a dish. Here the strong earthy flavor really was the star of the show and the salty pancake and sour crème fraiche were its accompaniments.

My first course was the Parmesan Cauliflower Flan with Braised Romaine Lettuce and Cesar Dressing. I started this on the leafy end and wasn’t too impressed. The romaine was too wilted and really weighed down by the dressing to a soupy mess. Then I cut into the other end and found it much more enjoyable. The creamy cauliflower flan needed a sturdy vessel and the romaine base provided that quite well. If this salad was braised and dressed slightly less it would be a fantastic dish.

For my entrée I had the Pan Roasted Cod with Cauliflower, Pistachio and Asparagus. When this plate was set down in front of me the smell of garlic pretty much slapped me in the face. I felt like I was back in college walking into my roommate’s very Italian parents’ house. I mean this was strong! The fish itself was cooked perfect but everything tasted a little too salty. As with the appetizer I think the entrée could have been seasoned less and come out being a much tastier dish.

Okay now before dessert something really weird happened that I must mention. My plate had been cleared and I had pulled my NY magazine back out and was busy reading an article on ESP. All of a sudden I realized it was insanely quiet in the restaurant. The three tables were still there but something seemed weird. Then I realized there was no background music. I started to wonder if the music had been off the whole time and I was just noticing or if it had stopped. Then I started thinking this place could really use a jazzy little slow tune like the Girl From Ipanema playing (one of my favs). Literally 2 seconds later that exact song comes on! No Lie. What’s even stranger is that during my wedding week they were playing music over the speakers at the pool and the same exact thing happened with this same exact song! I thought about it and voila it happened. WTF!! I apparently have the ability for the Girl from Ipanema to be played whenever and wherever I please. Sing me up for the X-Men I got a special power!!

Okay back to the dessert- Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse with crispy chocolate nougatine. The presentation of this dessert was beautiful and actually reminded me of something I had at Daniel. The flavor was nice as well although it was just a tad too bitter for me.

So overall Tocqueville was a bit of a miss. Everything I had seemed over seasoned and over dressed. Part of me wonders if my palate is a little messed up from Mexico and all the unseasoned grilled fish I ate there. I will definitely return to Tocqueville because although I didn’t love my meal, every dish was only slightly off for me and the service and atmosphere were exceptional. Now...I’d like to hear the Girl from Ipanema please...