Photo: Lara Kastner / Alineabook.com
Renowned food writer M.F.K. Fisher once wrote, “First we eat, then we do everything else.” That might sound startlingly unromantic at first, but Fisher revered, as all gourmands do, the dual role that eating plays in our lives: physical necessity and opportunity for transcendence.When it comes to the art of the tasting menu, it’s all about elevating the everyday. Simple sustenance takes a backseat as a chef seizes the opportunity to display his or her artistry, versatility and imagination. (And with the number of courses often reaching double digits, basic hunger is rarely on most diners’ minds.)
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The beauty of tasting menus is how much they vary from restaurant to restaurant and chef to chef. At n/naka in Los Angeles, chef Niki Nakayama’s 13-course Modern Kaiseki riffs on the traditional Japanese kaisekihaute cuisine banquet, which strictly dictates the progression of the meal (it requires, for instance, an amuse-bouche of “something common and something unique”).
At the Catbird Seat, a new James Beard–nominated restaurant in Nashville, the menu changes nightly according to the whims of Erik Anderson (who cooked for a time at Noma in Copenhagen) and Josh Habiger (formerly of Alinea in Chicago). The two chefs team up to create a seven-course tasting menu as 32 guests look on, serving up dishes like arctic char with lardon and clover or spring ramp vichyssoise with violets. And at La Terraza del Casino de Madrid, the menu—crafted personally by Ferran Adrià, the creator of El Bulli—is tapas-style, offering perfect bites like pine-nut marshmallows and oysters with lychee gelée.
Whether found in Cape Town or Brooklyn, the unforgettable tasting menus on this list offer the opportunity to not just eat, but to eat sumptuously.
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This story was originally published by Departures.
There's no shortage of stellar food in Rome, but La
Pergola at the Rome Cavalieri hotel is the city's only restaurant to be honored with three Michelin stars. From the wine cellar (which contains 53,000 bottles) to the water list (choose from 29 options) to the setting (panoramic views of the city), everything about the restaurant is opulent--especially the food.
Choose the nine-course tasting menu, which consists of elevated takes on classic Roman dishes: tangerine risotto with scampi carpaccio; fish on a salt brick with lemon perfume and spicy foam; and pigeon with black salsifies, pine nuts and grappa sauce.
Nine courses, $275; Via Alberto Cadlolo 101; 39-06/3509-1; romecavalieri.com.
It's been five years since Restaurant Le Meurice, the fine dining fixture in one of Paris's most venerated luxury hotels, earned its third Michelin star. To celebrate, the restaurant is launching a new lunch menu that is an ode to classic French cuisine.
The four-course lunch includes dishes like crayfish aspic, and tuna mousse with olive oil and argan-oil tuile. Guests who can manage to look up from their stunningly sculptural dishes will find much to admire here--the dining room, which is Philippe Starck's reinterpretation of the Salon de la Paix at Château de Versailles, is as grand as the cuisine.
Four courses with wine pairings, $140; 228 Rue de Rivoli; 33-1/44-58-10-10; lemeurice.com
Few would expect to find New York's hottest tasting menu in a pizza restaurant--especially the kind where shakers of red-pepper flakes top the bare wooden tables. But Roberta's Pizza, nestled deep in the sparsely industrial neighbourhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, has become something of a foodie legend thanks to its private tasting menu.
The menu--which is offered to only 12 people a night on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 6P.M.--features 15 courses based on what chef Carlo Mirarchi feels like serving. Mirarchi has won raves for his dry-aged Normandy duck, Waygu beef and watercress sorbet. More recent creations include garganelli with goat and chickweed. 1
5 courses, from $180; 261 Moore St.; 718-417-1118; robertaspizza.com
El Bulli may be closed, but chef Ferran Adrià's cuisine lives on in Madrid, where he personally crafted the tasting menu at La Terraza, a one-Michelin-starred restaurant that sits atop the historical cultural institution Casino de Madrid.
Paco Roncero, La Terraza's chef de cuisine, oversees daily operations, but rumour has it that Adrià flies in regularly to check up on the tapas-style menu, which includes items like pine-nut marshmallows, oysters with lychee gelée and veal confit with celeriac.
$180 per person; Calle de Alcalá 15; 34-91/532-1275; casinodemadrid.es.
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