By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
More proof that the original is always better than the remake came via the now-omnipresent Floribbean standard: pistachio-crusted black grouper. The fillets were sparkling fresh, the nut crust crunchy and firm, and the smart adjoiners a fricassee of succulent rock shrimp, sweet bursts of mango and leek, and an ethereally delicious coconut rum sauce. Sauces are a Susser strength, whether it be the sumptuous vanilla beurre blanc lifting a rich Bahamian lobster and crab cake or classic reductions smoothly steeped in deep full flavors derived from professionally prepared stocks -- like the luxurious foie gras sauce draping roast garlic-painted filet mignon or the sacred pool of zinfandel-kissed demi-glace in which dijon-crusted lamb chops marry a portobello goat cheese strudel.
Mustard sauce, once a staple of restaurants everywhere, has gone the way of fondue in recent years, but when you taste how well it complements a big lush veal chop, you'll wonder why it ever disappeared. The juicy chop arrived propped upon a sublimely executed pine-nut risotto, a tangle of wild mushrooms completing the heartily rewarding repast.
Pastry Chef Jennifer Brown puts out a textbook crème brûlée and adds doodads like a chocolate-coconut truffle and buttery biscotti. Still, $11 seems steep for even as deft a version as this, especially since the nightly soufflé, for two people, costs $16 -- on one occasion, a roasted peach-and-Grand Marnier version sporting a voluminous golden cap that spouted steam as the waiter poured in a shot of crème anglaise.
The Kit Kat bar dessert is still as richly chocolatey, hazelnutty, and gimmicky as ever, lifted by an orange mint sauce and a mini scoop of potent espresso. I am aware that small scoops of ice cream are in vogue, but I want a portion big enough that I can't put the whole thing in my mouth at once and still be able to talk coherently (or at least as coherently as usual). As it turned out, it was more difficult to enunciate with the ball of ice cream tucked into my cheek than I had supposed, but I did manage to blurt out (of the blue) a short declaration to those at my table: "Four scoops!" Rather ambiguous, as no one was quite sure whether it meant I wanted three more scoops of ice cream, I thought the restaurant deserved four of whatever-goes-one-to-four, or I was a bit batty from too much wine. In fact, it was all of the above.