Zagat Presents: An Evening on the Seine at Comme Ca
There is a sense of gentility about Comme Ca that envelops you from the moment you walk in the heavy steel doors. Although it only opened its door in 2007, it has the feel of an old standard. The atmosphere encourages civility without discouraging a good time. Everyone from the general manager to servers are cheerful and friendly, and we even had a lovely conversation with the people at the next table.
We were dining at Comme Ca by invitation last week to enjoy Zagat Presents "An Evening on the Seine". It was one of the first special events at David Myers’ French Brasserie since Executive Chef Dong Choi came on board, but it will not be the last. The restaurant is planning on offering special prix fixe menus on a regular basis.
Although the menu items were not unheard of on a typical French menu, they were leaning towards the more adventurous palate. Skate, squab and foie gras are not for everybody, and they are not always for every cook. Luckily for us Comme Ca can execute this kind of menu with one hand tied behind its back.
We started with an all-organic salad salade de legume with charred eggplant vinaigrette and raw sheep's milk pecorino with heirloom tomatoes. There was a surprise tucked beneath the leaves that I was secretly hoping were heirloom beets. They turned out to be purple potatoes, a fun surprise. The tomatoes were bright and flavorful, exploding in our mouths and heralding an early Spring. One of the potatoes was slightly overcooked due to a size difference, but otherwise they were spot-on. The salad was paired with an organic Australian albarino with a greeness and higher acid content to pair with the lettuce.
The second course was Skate Grenobloise from the Atlantic with haricot verte and almonds, golden raisins and capers, paired with a Reisling out of Southeastern Australian. The wine's residual sugars appealed to the skate texturally and to the saltiness of the capers. The first time I tried skate was at Lupa in NYC. It shredded apart like boiled chicken and I decided I did not like skate. But I was in it all the way; never stop trying things. Once again I was proven wrong. Comme Ca made me love skate. The edges were crispy and the interior flaked apart, yielding easily to the fork. The lemon-caper sauce was a perfect match with just enough acidity and fat to make your mouth water. The skate is on the permanent menu. so we will be able to enjoy it again and again.
The third course was composed of a roasted squab breast with chestnut foie gras agnolotti, bing cherries and squab jus. Quail is a favorite, so I assumed the squab would be similar. The rare breast was not so much like squab, and not even like the dark meat of other game birds. It has the intense, sinister taste of variety meats like liver. The little drumstick of a wing was deeply laquered like Chinese duck and absolutely delectable. Cherries were a good choice, and I found myself on a treasure hunt for the anglotti. I could have eaten an entire dish of the tiny packets of chestnit and foie gras. Both the pasta and the filling melted in your mouth.
We finished with chocolate banana nut bread with caramelized banana milk and chicory ice cream for a little taste of French New Orleans We were having such a lovely time we ordered two more cocktails and watched them close up until there was nothing left to do but depart regretfully into the night.