“Care to start with a drink at the bar?” the host asked when we arrived for our 7:30 reservation at Picholine in New York City.
His easy-going yet formal manner matched the soothing lavender walls and elegant chandeliers.
He followed us with our drinks on a tray when we were ready to be seated. On my way, a fellow patron whispered, Beautiful dress, and I thanked her—self-mockingly thinking to myself, Vintage Express.
Our waiter, who reminded me of a refined older man you might find working at an upscale men’s clothing store, pulled out the table so we could comfortably take our seats. He presented us with our menus, and Jeff laughed when he opened his: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOSEY” was printed at the top of each page. After we’d chosen our prix fixe three courses, our waiter took them.
“It’s weird to ask if I can take the menu pages home for my scrap book, right?” I half-jokingly asked Jeff.
And, not a moment later, our waiter reappeared with them sealed in an envelope.
“Looking for these?” he asked.
White gazpacho with smoked paprika shrimp, ricotta gnocchi, grilled dourade with eggplant blini and romesco, blanquette of heritage pork with mustard spaetzle and root vegetable glace… A “maître fromager,” essentially a sommelier specifically for cheese, even wheeled out a cart to help us select our six-item cheese course. When he served them, he presented us with a print-out of our choices with detailed descriptions, in order of their lay-out on the ringed wooden platter: Coupale goat cheese, red Lacaune sheep’s milk cheese, Spenwood, Le Moulis, Hoch Ybrig, and a butterscotch-tasting gouda from Holland.
When I cautiously tip-toed my way down the stairs to the ladies’ room, each staff member in my path all but dove out of the way, subtly announcing Guest! to the next one so he’d do the same.
And then there was dessert. I should have known to eat less of my entrées! We ordered the liquid chocolate tart only to be surprised with a dark chocolate mousse cake that again wished me happy birthday on a white chocolate medallion, in addition to a row of handcrafted chocolate candies. Heaven.
Extravagant? Absolutely. Overindulgent? Quite possibly. Unforgettable? Without question. I’m one of the lucky few who’ve experienced Picholine… with a menu with my name on it as proof—and I’m well aware of how lucky I am.
35 West 64th Street, New York, NY
Photo courtesy PicholineNYC.com. (We occupied that cozy, round-tabled first booth on the right.)