Saturday, December 16, 2006


Once a year, my friend C and I celebrate with a meal where anything goes. Without regard for budget, portions, etc., we order (not to say that we're too strict otherwise, but for this night it's explicit that there are none). This year we chose Etat-Unis on 81st (between 2nd and 3rd). (And if you haven't been, you should definitely go).

C was in charge of the wine. The interesting thing about the wine list was that it had a ton of what I consider 'expense account' wines ($300+). But it also had a bunch on the double digits (and low $100s). So we weren't really tempted to stretch on the wine (yeah, no holds barred, but we aren't entirely irrational). We went for a nice pinot - it ended up being a bit weak for me, but nice (of course, I don't remember what it was, which maybe shows something).

I don't want to lead anyone to believe that I'm entirely predictable, but I don't think that anyone should be embarassed to state that looking at this menu,

my assumed order would be the fois gras (I love fois gras!) and the lamb (not just lamb, which is always great, but olive and spinach as sides). In fact, choosing any other combination for me would be entirely irrational. And yet...

As I looked at the menu, I was intrigued by the Dungeness crab souffle

and it was so perfect. It was the right combination of crab and lightness. And it was surrounded by what may be the most incredibly rich reduction that I may have ever tasted. I, of course, insisted that C try some. And I kept eating more and more sinking into the sinful softness.

For my second course, I couldn't get my mind off of the veal. It was 'lucious'

The lamb, while it looked delicious, was apparently only 'grilled'. That doesn't quite stack up to 'lucious'. I even asked the waiter about the veal/lamb difference. He said that the lamb was 'dynamite'. But at the end of the day, there are two issues: 1. I only had his word for the 'dynamite', the 'lucious' was right there, in black and white, 2. 'lucious' is just a better word - try saying it out loud, right now, it just rolls off your tongue, and pulls you back in - 'lucious'...

And so, despite the fact that any rational person would have chosen the lamb for me, I went with the veal. And ... it was lucious. The veal literally melted in my mouth. And egg noodles are never bad. It ended up looking like a light beef stew, but in my mouth - it was ambrosia. I want to go back and have it again. Now. Tonight.

And still, we had desert (remember, indulgence). There wasn't even a pause on this one. The chocolate souffle is a must no matter where and at Etat Unis, the date pudding is a mandatory. And so, we had both. I love chocolate souffles, and this one is good. And yet, the date pudding is probably better. It's so hard to choose between two things so close to perfection. Luckily, we didn't have to! We paired the chocolate souffle with a Rocha 10yr port and the date pudding with a 1990 Domaine de Rancy Rivesaltes Ambre.

A perfect meal for our night of indulgence.


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