Checking out the Macy’s Parade balloons the day before as they are being inflated
On Thanksgiving Day, we headed over to Daniel (a restaurant at which I’ve dined once before) for their special Thanksgiving meal.The Thanksgiving menu is available both in the main dining room and also in the “lounge”, which is their more casual area. Jackets are required for men in the main dining room whereas you can get away with a nice shirt or sweater in the lounge. The best kept secret is this: the dinner is exactly the same in both locations, but it costs less to dine in the lounge. The meal cost $145 in the lounge and $175 in the main dining room; $80 for kids 12 and under.We didn’t know this at first. In fact, Bryan was a bit disappointed we weren’t able to book the main dining room since it was sold out. We later asked our server what we were missing out on, and he told us “the menus are identical.”
Bryan turned at me and smiled, “that’s great!”.
The Thanksgiving menu consisted of three courses: an appetizer, entree, and dessert, with several options under each section. Overall, the menu had enough variety for all different types of diners. You could choose a very traditional meal (like Bryan, who of course opted for the Duo of Organic Heritage Red Bourbon Turkey), or opt for big eye tuna, black cod, or roasted rack of lamb. I went with the black cod, which I will describe in more detail below.
The meal began with a series of three canapés (or amuse bouche) – tiny little bites to whet the palate. All of these were delicious.
Shrimp poached in citrus
Beet & Granny Smith apple purée with chive oil
Red wine braised octopus served with horseradish cream, potato chip, beet sauce
Soon afterwards, another complimentary “bite” appeared – a tiny, warm Wild Mushroom Tart made with frantinette cheese and flavorful mushrooms. The bite had a beautifully intense and refined mushroom flavor. We loved it.
Finally, yet another bite – a Gorgonzola Panna Cotta served with a port reduction, endive, black pepper, pear, and walnut. Our first official appetizer hadn’t even shown up yet, and we had already enjoyed five different little bites. It was very, very fun.
After filling us up with so many amuses, they came by with a tray full of all different types of bread. You can choose as many as you would like to try. I typically get one or two just to try them. Sometimes Bryan and I get different types of bread so we can try each other’s. Once we figure out our favorites, we might get seconds on our favorites.
And then the first course! I started with the Chilled Plymouth Rock Oysters in Sea Water Gelle, which was phenomenal. The oysters were lightly poached and then served in a seaweed flavored gelee layered on top of a green leek cream on the bottom (called leek royale). This base was topped with dollops of uni (sea urchin), finger lime sea lettuce, Northern Lights Caviar (an American sturgeon caviar), fresh leeks, crispy (fried?) leeks, and a tapioca-seaweed cracker. The overall flavor was refined, with beautiful elements of the sea coming together to form one, cohesive flavor profile. I especially liked the textural differences between the crunchy leeks, seaweed gelee, and soft oysters.
Bryan started with the Jerusalem Artichoke Veloute, a soup poured tableside over an artfully arranged bowl full of black trumpet mushrooms, toasted hazelnuts, Saint Nectaire cheese, Tahoon cress, and lomo Iberico.
The soup itself was delicious – beautifully creamy with a pronounced umami from the lomo Iberico.
Oh, I forgot to mention that there are extras that you can add on to your tasting. On the Thanksgiving menu, one could order various types of caviar (e.g., Golden Ossetra, Siberian Sturgeon, or Northern Lights) at various not-so-cheap prices ($365, $245, $190 respectively). Since it was November, they were also doing a “Celebration of White Truffles from Alba” special. You could order a creamy risotto with parmesan or Abbaye de Tamie Agnolotti ($70 for a “tasting”, $130 as an appetizer, $210 as a main course).
We got one of each of the white truffle specials. Above Bryan is enjoying the agnolotti. Below is the risotto (ha ha, which you can’t really see since it’s all covered by truffles!).
Both were fantastic, though definitely at a pretty price. We had a much better value white truffle meal a few days later at another restaurant.
My entree was Pan Seared Black Cod “Goujonettes” (deep fried and breaded fish filet) served with flax seed, fall squash, roasted black radish, miso-chicken jus, and red mustard salad. Everything was executed perfectly and overall the dish was very enjoyable.
Of course, Bryan ordered the classic turkey dinner: Duo of Organic Heritage Red Bourbon Turkey, which came with giblet stuffing, cranberry chutney, leg stuffed turnips, Tuscan kale, wild mushroom, and pecan.
Gravy was poured tableside, and Bryan asked for a lot of it. He wanted them to pour it over everything – his turkey, his stuffing. Basically all over his plate.
The meat was beautifully tender and super flavorful. It was excellent.
The best part? Unlimited refills, just like real Thanksgiving! Even though Bryan was stuffed, he just couldn’t bring himself to say no to a second helping of turkey and stuffing. I mean, how often do you get free seconds at such a high-end restaurant?
I didn’t mind at all helping him to finish.
There are several choices for dessert, and we split two different ones.
I’m not sure who told them, but for some reason they knew that my birthday was the week before (?). Bryan was as surprised as I was, but they came by with a candle on our second chocolate and peanut butter themed dessert.
Bewildered but honored, I blew out the candle and made a wish. Both desserts were fantastic, by the way.
We finished with a beautiful and exquisite assortment of mignardises.
Thanksgiving dinner at Daniel is a lovely experience. I enjoyed the more relaxed, less formal atmosphere in the lounge. We sat in these couch-like chairs and just chilled for several hours while sipping on wine and slowly working our way through the meal. There was a family with elementary school-aged kids sitting near us, and they seemed quite comfortable in the lounge area as well.
The service was excellent. Not once did I feel like I was sitting in a “lesser” space or wish I could be in the main dining room. The food was great and I really enjoyed the overall experience. If there’s one thing that Daniel has mastered, it’s excellent service.
If you’re in New York and don’t plan on spending the holidays baking a turkey at home or visiting your family, consider heading over to Daniel for a relaxed, stress-free, and truly exquisite dinner.
* Daniel lost a star in the 2014 Michelin guide, which published after we dined at this meal.