Recette is a First Class Private Dining Experience in East Harlem
When I stepped out of the quiet 110th Street 6 train subway station, it seemed unlikely that I would find a Michelin-quality private dining experience less than a block away. But just past the nondescript facade of the Food Choice supermarket was the dimly lit Savoy Bakery. It looked closed, but the address was right. I peeked through the partially drawn curtains and saw an elegant eight-person table setting in a cozy brick walled interior, along with a bright kitchen and, most importantly, other humans.
It's not a restaurant, but it's not not a restaurant. I wasn't sure what to expect when my friend invited me to a tasting at Recette, which labels itself as "private dining." By "private," Recette means they can bring dinner into your home or the venue of your choosing, but their default dining room is Savoy Bakery during the after-hours.
During your meal—a five, seven, or ten-course tasting menu ($135-$210)—the owner of Savoy Bakery and maitre d' of Recette Brian Ghaw describes the dishes created by executive chef Jesse Schenker (previously of the Beard House and Gordon Ramsay at the London) and pastry chef Christina Lee (previously of Per Se and Falai). Unless your friends are chefs in some of New York City's best restaurants and will recreate a special meal for you at home, Recette brings the rare experience of eating quality food, outside of a stuffy environment, with just a handful of other people. And after your meal is over you can discuss the food with the friendly Recette team.
I didn't realize until I was on the train home that the meal was about three hours long. A lost sense of time is always a good sign of an enjoyable dining experience. Here are some of my favorite dishes from the five-course meal (which came to a total of 12 dishes with the amuse bouches and mignardises).
Maine lobster ravioli with roasted chanterelles, buffalo mozzarella, garden tarragon, and shellfish voloute. One piece of ravioli is all you need when it's huge and packed with fresh lobster meat.
"Sous vide" pork tenderloin with lamb bacon, Parmesan custard, cararmelized onion "consomme," and cranberry chutney. You'd be crazy not to like a nugget of tender pork swelled with its own meat juices. I also loved the smooth, light Parmesan custard.
Braised short rib with herb spaetzel, baby spring vegetables, Sicilian pistachio, and sauce "périgordine." The rich muscle fibers came apart like butter. Just the way I like it.
Salted caramel apple with Grand marnier gastrique, Earl Grey milk jam, and almond jello. Although the layered pastry looked like the centerpiece, my favorite part of the dessert was the milk jam, a.k.a. caramel. I attempted to scrape up every last bit with my fork.
The moist spicy brownie bite (not the official name, just the one I came up with) looked deceptively like a chunk of plain chocolate cake until, a few seconds after I ate it, it left a tingling burning sensation in my throat. Not painful—just refreshing.