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Gaby Brasserie, Manhattan Digest
Credit to: Gaby Brasserie Francaise

When it comes to dining in New York City, you have your endless amounts of cultural food experiences that you can enjoy in any of the five boroughs.  However, for the ones who work around the midtown area, you are left with a ton of chain restaurants and your run of the mill local deli which doesn’t exactly leave you wanting more.  Gaby Brasserie in The Sofitel New York on West 45th Street has proven itself to change your mind on how you can find a unique and delicious spot right in the heart of Midtown.  This spot bodes a ton of convenience for me as I work directly across from it and walk past it on a daily basis yet never went inside to experience just how amazing this place is.  Luckily for me, I got the chance to do some tastings last week with a good friend of mine and suffice to say we were both blown away by the technique, flavor and overall presentation of each dish.

The food was prepared by Sylvain Harribey, the hotel’s award-winning executive chef and a recent winner of the Food Network’s Chopped (one of my personal favorite shows.  I gotta find the episode that he was on!)  His friendly demeanor in presenting each course definitely gave me a better sense of the restaurant as a whole, which had a warm and inviting feeling to it upon entrance.  The first course, or the “Amuse Bouche”  that was presented to us was a Butternut Squash Cappuccino.  I am normally not a fan of Butternut Squash Soup due to how sweet it is, yet this was presented in a great duality of sweet and savory for sure.  Great balance and an overall great start to the meal.  For our appetizer, I got to experience for the first time in my 27 years of existence Foie Gras, which is the liver of a duck or goose.  As odd as it sounds, I was apprehensive due to this being a new type of food that I have never experienced before, but just like the soup I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of each way the Foie Gras was presented to us.  The first one was a Foie Gras spring roll with Prosciutto, fig and mixed greens.  The second was a Sesame crusted foie gras au torchon served on Brioche.  The third option was Pan Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras over sweet potato mash with an Asian Vinaigrette.  All were delicious but I would have to say that the latter was my favorite due to the contrast of the mash with the Vinaigrette.

For our entree and sandwich courses (Because you really can’t have one without the other, right?) we were treated to two very different delicacies that were packed with flavor and punch in its own right. For the entree, we were presented with Oven Roasted Dijon Lamb Loin on a crushed white bean puree flavored with pumpkin seed oil, vegetable tian gratine (eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, roma tomato, Provencal herbs and Parmesan cheese).  As odd as it sounds, my favorite part of this dish happened to be the gratine due to the enormity in flavor that Chef Harribey prepared for each of the vegetables.  Don’t get me wrong, the Loin was off the chain, but sometimes the supporting roles play just as much importance as the main star.  For the Sandwich, it was what they like to call the “Franburger”– Served on a crispy baguette with melted brie cheese, lettuce, tomato and Provencale fries.  I am not one for brie really on anything with the exception of a Ritz cracker, however it tasted really well and balanced with the burger and baguette.  I am a big fan of french fries, and the sprinkling of Provencale on top of them really made it tasty and balanced with the burger.

We were then treated to an assortment of mini desserts including Caramel Cake and Creme Brulee to name a couple.  Overall this was an astonishing meal, and I can totally see how Chef Harriby not only won “Chopped” but also runs such a successful establishment with some of the most professional staff me and my friend have ever experienced.  Overall, a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book!

What’s even better is what they have planned for Valentine’s Day on Friday.  It is a Valentine’s Day menu so studded with aphrodisiacs it warrants a tongue-in-cheek “consume at your own risk.”   The seduction begins with an amuse bouche of East Coast oyster with shallot raspberry vinegar, followed by a choice of pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras with sweet potato purée and fig sauce or an assortment of smoked fishes served with mậche lettuce, avocado, citrus and vinaigrette. For their main dish, patrons can choose Filet de Boeuf – a pan-seared Angus beef tenderloin with almond, cauliflower and potato purée served with grilled asparagus and topped with green peppercorn sauce – or Sole Roulade with basil salmon mousse, fennel and vegetable gratin, and a sauce of saffron and fine herbs. Dessert is a delectable Saint Honoré of raspberry mousse with crème chiboust topped with Grand Marnier sauce.

Sounds insanely yummy!  For more information on The Gaby Brasserie, be sure to visit their website Definitely a place to check out for Valentine’s Day and beyond!