While staying at the Delamar Hotel, we dined at the modern and fashionable l’escale Restaurant located within the hotel at the northern end. As you enter l’escale (French for “port of call”) you feel you have just miraculously appeared in an excellent restaurant in Cote d’Azur (French Riviera) on the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. The decor and ambiance of l’escale is characteristic of fine restaurants seen in Southern France. The floors consist of attractive two-hundred-year-old stone terra cotta tiles from Provence. An impressively large working, wood burning, fireplace; imported from a castle in the south of France adorns one wall of the dining room, providing a beautiful focal point. If you visit l’escale during the warm months be sure to sit outside on the patio seating along the hotel’s dock to enjoy your dining while taking in the immaculate views of Greenwich Harbor.
Executive Chef Kieffer originally designed the inventive Mediterranean infused Provençal menu for l’escale showcasing the use of the highest-quality seafood and shellfish, seasonal vegetables, regional herbs and spices. Chef Kieffer is still the Executive chef of l’escale, but has brought on Chef de Cuisine, Chef Miguel Mercado, to handle the daily operation.
Recently arrived Chef de Cuisine Miguel had only been there for a few weeks when we visited l’escale. As we lounged on the Louis XVI fashioned chairs sipping out cocktails in the lounge of the restaurant we had the opportunity to chat with Chef Miguel. We learned that he is a classical French trained chef that is now incorporating modern culinary techniques into his cooking. He is starting to put his own personality into the cuisine served at l’escale. The music that was playing in the background was what one would hear in the clubs of Paris, adding to ambiance of being in France.
Before dinner we were invited into the kitchen and watch Chef Miguel cook a very special dish for us. Take a look and see what he made.
The cocktails we enjoyed were: How to Marry a Millionaire and Gold Finger. All of cocktails are named after well known movies. The How to Marry a Millionaire was a well balanced blend of vodka, Elderflower liquor, lime, mixed berries, and lychee ball. Whereas the Gold Finger was Pyrat rum, orange bitters, lime, and a touch of cinnamon.
Soon visiting our table was David, Director of Operations for l’escale, introducing himself and offering a tasting of wines paired to each course offered to use my Chef Miguel. As we were awaiting the start of our culinary journey, we sampled the bread.
Our dinner started off with a shooter of Brandied Lobster Bisque. This tasty bisque consisted of lobster-apple soffritto, tarragon, and topped with a touch of lemon crème fraiche.
Every night there are a few specials on the menu, this evening we sampled both of them. The first was Slow Cooked Egg and Asparagus Salad with “Gilberti Farm’s” arugula and micro greens, shaved Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. The yummy, running yolk of the egg supplied a velvety and rich taste to the fresh and crisp thin shaved asparagus. A hint of pepper was delivered by the arugula. The earthy taste of the Parmesan cheese balanced out the salad. A tad bit of sea salt would have elevated the dish to a higher level.
The other menu special we savored was Truffled Caseificio Del Rose Buratta Agnolotti with beurre rouge. The filling in this form of ravioli was rich and delicate with simple but complex array of flavors. The beurre rouge added that buttery flavor that married well with the truffle and cheeses. The earthy and creaminess of this dish was paired with the floral of the sparkling champagne Perrier Jouet Grand Brut from France
We were given a glimpse of the beautifully prepared Mediterranean sea bass before we tasted the Branzino Bouillabaisse. It was accompanied by rock shrimp, mussels, saffron potato, rouille, and sea beans. Although with bouillabaisse in the name it lacked a stew / soup broth. The fish was mild and cooked properly. Each ingredients added its flavor to this rich and multiple flavored dish that was paired nicely with the citrus and mineral taste of the 2012 Fournier Les Belles Vignes Sancerre from Loire, France.
From the beef cuisine we were given the Dry Aged prime Augus Filet Mignon. It was accompanied by baby winter vegetables, red watercress, and served with three steak sauces: L’Escale steak sauce, bearnaise, and green peppercorn. The sparkle of finishing salt on top of the medium rare filet mignon brought out more of the flavor of the filet. Each one of the steak sauces offered a different taste that enhanced the filet without overpowering it. The watercress added a nice level of “peppery” flavor. The “beefinees” of the filet paired pleasantly with the cheery and spice tones of the 2009 Pinot Noir, Chauvenot-Chopin, from the Cotes De Nuits-Villages region of France.
Whenever I see duck on the menu, I have to try it, so I asked if we could and we were served Crispy Crescent Duck “Magret”. The crispy duck came with whipped parsnips, braised kale, duck confit, and an orange glaze. The duck breast was prepared just as it should have been – medium rare with crispy skin. The parsnips and kale combined well with the hearty duck where the orange glaze added a slightly sweet citrus. The duck was paired with 2011 Charles Krug, 1861, Peter Mondavi Family, Napa Valley, California.
For dessert we had a trio of sweets: Black and White Chocolate Soufflé, Warm Honey Crisp Apple Tart, and Paris Breast Pastry Cream. The soufflé was topped with a rich and creamy coffee ice cream. Setting atop the tart was a scoop of calvados-raisin ice cream. Sandwiched between the light and flaky pastry were raspberries and whipped cream. Each of the dessert had just enough sweetness to inform you that they were desserts. The desserts was paired with a medium bodied 2009 Malbec, Clos de Los Siete from Mendoza, Argentina
The evening finished with a delicious and creamy dessert wine from France: 2010 Sauternes-La Fleur D’or. If you have never been to l’escale you must visit soon.