cesar

Getting one of the coveted nine seats for an intimate dinner hosted by chef César Ramirez at the Brooklyn Fare means knowing the right person. To bypass the wait list — which is 100 people deep — it helps to have a dear friend with great connections to get us a seat at the last minute. This was one legendary meal and I had no idea what I was up against. Here’s how it all went down…

Wednesday, September 30, 2009: 6:11 PM
I appear as a frenzied blur whizzing out of work and hopping on the C-train headed to the Brooklyn Fare. Normally the place is a gourmet market, but tonight the kitchen will host a private dinner. I’m utterly famished and feel as though passengers can hear the rumble of my starving stomach over the sounds of the subway. I was fortunate to get a sneak peek of the menu for tonight over email and it sounds incredible beyond words.

6:54 PM
Made it to Brooklyn and now must find wine. Since the meal is BYOB, I seek out Donna Da Vine (355 Atlantic Avenue) to pick up a bottle. Not knowing exactly how food will be prepared, the knowledgeable staff recommends I play it safe and purchase a bottle of white wine since the lightness will complement a wide assortment of flavors. I practically throw them my credit card and zip out the door. Dinner starts in minutes, can’t be late!

table

7:01 PM

I’ve finally arrived at the Brooklyn Fare (albeit out of breath) and I’m immediately escorted to my seat, which happens to be in the kitchen. A large, stainless steel prepping counter has been transformed into an intimate table setting for nine lucky diners. Executive chef Césear Ramirez and sous chef Juan Leon are busy at work cooking and preparing the evening’s meal. Pots are steaming, the oven is blazing and the kitchen is starting to fill with aromas of delicacies to come. Tapping my foot, I’m impatiently waiting for the last remaining dining companion to arrive before we can start.

butternutsoup

7:28 PM
César has informed us he’ll be starting off the evening with a series of amuse-bouches which are single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres created to amuse the mouth and wake up the palate. These differ from appetizers since they are served according to the chef’s selection and not listed on the menu. First item up is a shot glass full of warm butternut squash and tangerine soup with truffle air. I quickly down the hearty purée in a series of gluttonous gulps.

macaroon

7:32 PM
I’m in awe and can’t believe what has just been placed before me: Two carefully stacked delicate, parmesan savory macaroons. I’ve only been familiar with sweet versions, but these are so incredible!

codball

7:34 PM
Next up, a deep-fried cod croquette sitting atop homemade tartar sauce.

crabball

7:39 PM
Moving on, it’s crab time. The delicate meat is wrapped in kataifi, a popular Middle Eastern pastry made with a special form of shredded phyllo dough which gives the dish a spindly sea-like appearance. The crab is served with a simple cucumber and dill sauce.

oysters

7:41 PM
Feels like I’m eating an eyeball and coincidentally looks like one too. I guess oysters do have an odd resemblance to a human body part especially when accompanied with green gelée and an ominous looking oyster sheet.

froiegras

8:00 PM
I’m loving how César is constantly changing up the presentation of dishes. Now I’m served a spoon holding a deep-fried breaded ball filled with foie gras. One bite sends the warm fatty liver oozing out and dripping down our fingers.

truffles

8:05 PM
I’m absolutely mesmerized as I watch Juan diligently shave an entire French truffle! Resting at the bottom of the cup is cod cream which is created by slow-poaching cod, then whipping it into a light, fluffy cream. César stacks each cup with shavings. I’ve never eaten this amount of truffle in one sitting before and it’s so decadent, I feel like the luckiest person around.

hiramasa

8:15 PM
Seven amuse-bouches later, my palate is finally warm and the main course is starting. First up, Hiramasa: Thin slices of rare tuna served with raw scallions and crispy fried scallions and topped with micro greens. My friend informs me there may be some sort of a ponzu vinaigrette poured over the tuna. The flavors are intense and there’s an identifiable hint of sesame oil.

crab

8:34 PM
This next dish is breathtaking in presentation. Soft crab rolled in wilted bibb lettuce served with caviar, an avocado purée and a delicate dusting of porcini powder over fresh mushrooms. Take a look for yourself, absolutely stunning!

langoustine

8:46 PM
This dish is definitely more experimental. Foie gras and langoustine wrapped in romanesco floating in an acidic, bubbly sea comprised of langoustine juice, porcinis and romanesco.

scallop

9:07 PM
Golden delight! A plump, seared scallop with sweet bread nestled in a bed of celery root purée and a sauce of veal demi-glace with a sweetness of vanilla bean.

johndory

9:26 PM
Just when I thought I had seen it all, I can barely speak. I’ve just been served César’s version of a fish chowder. John Dory fish with black trumpet mushrooms, razor clams, large Greek beans, squid and sautéed cod cheeks. The entire seafood meledy is smothered in buttery goodness.

porcelet

9:47 PM
Simple and abstract, yet complex in flavor. This dish has a generous serving of porcelet pig with apple cake, green onions, chanterelle mushrooms and a cheese sauce. The apple cake is comprised of numerous thin, delicate layers of apple and scorched with a flame to produce a caramelized crème brûlée crispy topping.

italianplum

10:10 PM
It’s finally dessert time and I’m busting at the seams. César ends the meal with a bang and it’s a tender Italian plum cooked with cinnamon and a bay leaf for the past 24 hours. It’s served with a generous scoop of fresh ricotta and a drizzle of 25-year-old balsamic. On the side is an airy plum marshmallow and a moschata gelée.

Almost three hours later my meal has finally come to an end. Count them, fourteen dishes arrived throughout the night. FOURTEEN!! Dinners are available from Tuesday to Saturday at 7 PM and the cost used to be $70 but has recently been increased to $95 per person. Guess that’s what happens when you use ingredients like truffles and foie gras. Call today, put you name on the list and since César rarely repeats dishes, be sure to share your experience.

Brooklyn Fare / 200 Schermerhorn Street
718 243 0050 / Hours: Mon- Sat: 7am-9pm; Sun: 7am-6pm *Dinner: Tues-Sat: 7pm (call to reserve)

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