Dominique Ansel's U.P.

Mr. T and I were two of only eight lucky people to score opening night reservations for Dominique Ansel's dessert only tasting menu Unlimited Possibilities (aka U.P.).  The tiny space above Dominique Ansel Kitchen was transformed into a cozy candlelit space with jazz music playing overhead and table that descended from the ceiling for us to dine (check out his table descending video here).

The meal began with an array of fresh veggies, a little something raw to cleanse the palate for the desserts to come.

The eight course tasting menu was designed around the "first" of everything in life.  Dominique explained that he not only wanted to focus on the flavors but also recreate the emotions that went along with each of these experiences.  A week before dining each guest received an email asking to reply with his/her first word and course number one was designed around each response.

First Word- sweet pea, rice milk, gin, carrot cake, yogurt meringue

A soft mummer went round the room as guests began to dig into their dessert; not only was this visually stunning but the flavors were absolutely incredible.  Juniper and sweet pea seemed to leap off the plate studded with candied carrots and squares of quite possibly the world's best carrot cake. Here's a shot of Mr. T's first word both paired with a Yuzu Eucalyptus Sparkler.

First Kiss-  raspberry, roasted peanut water, cream soda pearls, fresh mint

The center was a play on cupids arrow with the bumpy outside edges of the bowl meant to depict the scratchy beard stubble on the face of many young men.  The very last morel inside the bowl was a mound of fresh mint panna cotta that left a slight tingle on my tongue much like a first kiss would. This was whimsically paired with a buttered popcorn Rum & Coke because so many first kisses happen in the dark of movie theaters.

First Time Living on Your Own-  sweet corn, crepes, smoked toffee, lemon zest, anise

This was easily my favorite dish of the night.  I loved the play on bacon and eggs and the brown butter crepes with smoked toffee were one of the best things I've ever tasted. If only my first college meals were like this!  Sangria was paired with this course because we all had to jazz up that cheap college wine with something.

First Heartbreak- bergamot, cocoa nibs, marshmallow, bitter almond, chocolate pain de genes

This dish requires multiple pictures because breakups are never easy.

Diners were instructed to light the love marker on the edge of the petals.

Mr. T's flower took off like wild fire quickly becoming a big mass of charred petals in under a minute.

This was very fitting as Mr. T's motto has always been to "sever all ties" when a relationship ends.  Mine slowly burned and fizzled out about halfway around which was also quite fitting as I have stayed quite friendly in all of my breakups. The rich chocolate shell and toasted marshmallow inside were incredible but the matches really made the dish.

This was paired with a Ceylon peoke Mezcal milk punch that was deliciously strong and spicy.

After the dishes were cleared Dominique brought out a tray of orchids filled with crisp sorbet as a palate cleanser...because we all deserve a flower after a breakup as Dominique said :)

First Job- coffee, malt, nougat, cardamom, praline feulletine

Ugh the first job... defined by immediate stress.

A graph depicting the allowances for Sleep, Taxes, Beer Money and Caffeine; each silo filled with a different flavor like Cardamon melt away or coffee ganache and paired with Chocolate Stout....because beer money is always most important.

First Fine Dining Experience- dark chocolate, black currant, red wine, brown butter, puff pastry, creme fraiche.

A play on one of the oldest fine dining dishes today the classic Beef Wellington; a dish I've never enjoyed until this very pastry.  This was paired with a glass of "East India Solera Reserva" sherry.

First Dance- strawberries, mascarpone, elderflower

The first dance didn't quite work out for me as my sugar base wasn't set so I twirled my strawberry skirt by hand while I sipped a glass of "Cuvee St. Anne" champagne.

The Next First-  cherry, sake lees, lychee

To end the meal a perfect cherry paired with sake made from spent rice.  To reuse what was good in the past and put it to even better use in the future.  

There were some more little surprises along the way but I'll leave those out for the next diners to enjoy.  The meal was incredible. There was so much thought and energy that went into each dish and Dominique's genuine excitement for his creations was amazing.  There was some nervous opening jitters for sure, drinks were sometimes taken before being finished and silverware wasn't always synced up but the team handled it beautifully.  I have no doubt this will be running like a well oiled machine in no time and I can't wait for my next visit.

U.P. is only open for service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for eight guests.  The menu is currently $75 a person with optional drink pairings at $35. Reservations for September go live tomorrow at noon on the U.P. website.

137 7th Avenue South @Charles Street
New York, NY 10014