amen, ame

Amen for Ame at the St. Regis, which redeemed my gastronomic gallivanting on this trip – and just as I was headed for the red eye back home, too.  Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani are the celebrated pair behind Napa Valley’s Terra restaurant and their first foray into the big city is informal and impressive.  A seasonal showcase of locally sourced ingredients (including an array of crudo, tartare, sashimi and carpaccio) the chefs describe their menu as “personal cuisine,”  a reflection of artfully blended flavors of southern France and northern Italy filtered through a Japanese culinary sensibility.  If that sounds pretentious, worry not; it’s passionate.  The crudo of the day was simply prepared with EVOO, lemon, sea salt and a sprinkle of watermelon radish, allowing the clean taste and texture of snapper to shine.  I’ve never eaten velvet but as the broiled sake-marinated Alaskan black cod with shrimp dumplings melted in my mouth I started wondering about how that lush, deep pile might taste in shiso broth.  Ame’s Chocolate “Energy Bar” made for a very clean, clever end to a quick visit: a Snickers-sized slab of nuts and crunchy bits, double-dipped in chocolate.  Leaving for the airport, I promised myself time to linger over the chef’s five-course tasting menu … next time.

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